A chilling article from the New York Times details how, and when the tenets of climate change will effect life for Humans.
Author David Wallace Wells paints a picture of climate change that threatens not only the lives of future generations, but so to within the “lifetime of a teenager today”. He describes key milestones in which civilization may face in the wake of climate change. Doomsday, heat death, the end of food, climate plagues, unbreathable air, perpetual war, permanent economic collapse, and poisoned oceans are all stops along the journey to human extinction according to the author.
In the phase of heat death Wells takes a scientific approach to understanding the problem where he notes that “at 11 or 12 degrees of warming, more than half the world’s population, as distributed today, would die of direct heat”. He doesn’t believe that we’ll get there in this century, but points out that we do have models that illustrate us getting to that point, someday.
The End of Food
The ‘end of food’ is depicted as a dire situation where the planet has “50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them”. The author aptly points out that we’ve actually begun this phase of horrific famine, where in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen famine is predicted to kill up 20 million this year alone.
Climate plagues details the possibility that our polar ice caps contains stores of virus’s from recent pasts, specifically small pox, and the bubonic plague. In May, the BBC reported this very phenomenon, where they found dormant diseases hiding in the Earth’s permafrost. It’s possible that these diseases would not survive being thawed out. However there is recorded instances of this happening. Just last year a boy was killed and 20 others were infected with anthrax upon discovering a reindeer carcass (hidden by permafrost) that was killed by the bacteria 75 years earlier.
Unbreathable air speaks to a point in which our air hits 1,000 ppm by 2100. At these levels, ‘compared to the air we breathe now, human cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.’ Recently, we just surpassed a dreaded 400 ppm level that scientists fear indicate a tipping point for our ecosystem.
Perpetual War and Permanent Economic Collapse
Perpetual war and permanent economic collapse go hand in hand with one an other. An endless fight over resources leading to a global destabilization is a real possibility in this apocalyptic world view.
In poisoned oceans Wells talks about the ocean as a “killer”. His research shows that we may see “four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century.” This is a threat to all costal cities, and towns, power plants, ports, fisheries, and all other costal activities. Ocean acidification becomes a problem as the ocean currently absorbs two thirds of the carbon we produce, which has caused an extreme stress on marine wildlife as evidenced by phenomena such as coral bleaching.
Lastly the author argues that we’re blind to seeing the warnings that are right in front of our face because of our historical conditioning on story telling. He compares the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the attack at 9/11 as arguments for his example. Questions like “where where you when the Berlin Wall fell” or, “Where where you on 9/11″ imply a longevity of success, one we’re able to answer as we’ve solved the problem. He challenges readers to answer similar questions to understand how this line of conditioning will not solve our problems ‘Where were you at 400 ppm?’ or ‘Where were you when the Larsen B ice shelf broke up?” It’s possible we’ll never be able to answer these questions unless we do something about it before it happens.
If you have time to read the full article, we strongly encourage you to do so.
Get our Tips and Tricks to your Inbox