Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Your Earth in 2080

A picture of the exact future of 2080 is still uncertain. One thing it is generally agreed upon is that the average temperature will be about two degrees warmer around the world.

One of the first major alterations will be the frequency of extreme weather.  Everything from cyclones in Southeast Asia to more killer tornadoes and storms in the U.S. South and Midwest.  Yeah, we here in states like Illinois, Indiana, and Kansas know all about what warm, humid air tends to bring in the spring and the summer.  There's also going to be a toll taken on agriculture worldwide.  Crops that humans depend upon heavily, such as wheat and rice, will fail more often than not.  Scientists are working on future varieties of these staples that can survive in higher heat, but that kind of breakthrough is going to take time. Withered crops will mean higher food prices and fewer supplies.  This could lead to civil unrest, especially in lesser developed regions where food is already a scarcity.  

Health issues are also a concern.  Heatstroke of the kind seen by hundreds of victims in recent heatwaves across France and Russia are harbingers of what we can expect.  There are those who believe that infectious disease will be more widespread.  The thinking behind this is that with warmer temperatures and wetter conditions from rain and from the rise in sea level that tropical diseases will become more prevalent.  While a rise in sea level does tend to follow a rise in temperatures in most models, it is still uncertain just how high the water will go and how soon.  Of course if it does rise, we'll have coastline populations displaced and seeking higher elevations.  This means refugees and more disease.

Frequently, those older than my current age will say to me, "You weren't around during the late 1960s.  Those were scary times, too.  We got through those, we'll get through this."
They are correct in pointing out that I was not in existence during the late 1960s.  They are likewise spot-on when they say those are scary times.  Young people had a half-decent chance of getting drafted to fight in a hopeless war whether they wanted to or not, civic unrest threatened major cities, and if you were African American...well, let's just say you had it pretty rough.
But I'm sorry.  It's different now.  The stakes are much higher.  I'm not trying to sound pulpy, but the future of the world does rest on decisions we make right now regarding agenda items such as the environment and finance.  Does our leadership get that?  Or are they too concerned that they'll lose too much of their money due to pesky environmental regulations designed to better the world?  Want to help the environment?  You must be anti-business.  You are therefore a communist...just like The Muppets.  Or at least that's what Fox News says.    (Sorry, folks. Next post won't be political.  Promise.)

Bruce Sterling is right.  Like him, I'll live long enough to see climate change deniers living in refugee camps.

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