I’ve been having a chat with Tim over at MothIncarnate, one of my personal favorites blogs and a sites that deserves wider readership.
In discussion him I mused about the “shape of things to come“.
What will the world be like in 2030, or 2050 or two hundred years from now should average temperatures rise by 2-4 degrees?
Here’s my speculations cut and pasted from Tim’s blog and only slightly cleaned up:
The debate over the reality of AGW will collapse as we begin to experience more and more extreme weather events. It will move on to how we should respond to climate change.
We’ve got 2+ degree locked in by 2030 (ish). That’s not that far away.
Personally I see things panning out this way:
- while we will see a spate of trading schemes and taxes on CO2e come into force around the globe it won’t be sufficient to really slow down emissions. We will stay on a “business as usual” emission path for longer than we really should (IPCC AR4 SRES A1FI)
- by that point enough CO2 will “locked” into the atmosphere to cause at least 2-4 degrees of warming
- within the decade most people will experience a “Oh shit!” moment when the reality of AGW will hit home. Much hand wringing over “We should have acted earlier!” and blame thrown around
- investment in alternative energy (even nuclear) will be a growth area, but again not enough to pull down emission levels in the next ten years. This will speed up investment after the collective “Oh shit!” moment
- mitigation will then be a case of quickly reducing emissions before it gets worse, a further “Oh shit, we better do this quick and NOW!!!!” moment in most advanced economies
- chuck in peal oil to really spice things up and the collapse of marine stocks as well…
- this will cause economic and social disruption of varying degrees: for some mild, for others catastrophic. Expect globalisation to go into reverse, it will be about power blocs
- because of the disruptive nature of AGW, we will see local communities and states bear the brunt of mitigation efforts. Political power will be much more devolved due to the need respond quickly to local events, rather than wait for large cumbersome national governments to respond. Think New Orleans after Katrina but replicated many times. People will question the necessity of governments that “keep failing them” and seek to take control of resources and politics at the local level
- the worlds poorest will really get the raw end of the stick… famine, plagues more common. So much so future generations will be deeply ashamed for “not seeing this coming”. And rightly so…
- advanced economies will fare somewhat better, but take a battering. They have deeper pockets, but mitigation will be a an ongoing drain on national wealth
- economic and demographic growth will slow and perhaps decline so that by mid-century demographers and economists will be deeply concerned over “negative trends”
- after a century or so our civilisation come out the other side, chastened, bruised and maybe wiser.
Our response over the next century will be ad hoc, piece meal and more reactive. There will be no grand Utopian technology silver bullets to “fix the climate problem”. Just adaptation and mitigation.
Call me alarmist, or call me a pessimist… but the science looks like a 4 degree world mid-century is the most likely outcome.
I don’t think we’ll see our extinction, after all H.Sapiens is a very adaptable species. But it will be a “brave new world” in every sense of the word.
So – what do other people think?
We keep talking about climate change… but how do you think it will impact you, your community and region of the world?
Our you concerned, hopeful or deeply pessimistic? How to envision the future?
We know what the science says, but how do you think it will pan out? I’m keen to hear from readers.
I’m opening up comments here to all for weekend discussions – let rip.