What happens to us when the Earth
is 2 degrees Warmer?
The fact that CO2 and methane concentrations have passed the threshold of 400ppm is of the most enormous significance. It means we have entered a new era - the era of dangerous climate change.
We have reached the point where our children
can no longer be promised a safe climate.
The most urgent outcomes of a 2°C rise, which is now at the low end of what is expected, and without even considering the devastation of triggering even one of the climate tipping points, would be:
- Most coastal cities such as London, Rome and New York would become uninhabitable for many. Metros would be flooded, sewage and stormwater flows would be overwhelmed, and most cable infrastructure would be affected. More drastically, most docks would be underwater so that food and oil could not be landed, even if it could be loaded onto the ships in the first place.
- Enormous areas of the most productive agricultural land would be underwater. One thinks immediately of Bangladesh and the North Sea farms in Holland and Anglesea. In addition frequent floods, droughts and storms would cause sever losses every year. The reduction in food production would be so severe that half the world's population would be hungry or starving.
- The alteration in the cold water flow that drives the great deep-sea currents of the world would have a profound impact on the Gulf Stream, with completely unpredictable results. The eastern US and Europe may become hotter or colder or more storm-ridden. No matter which, the outcome spells serious changes for some of the most advanced cultures on earth.
- Decreased availability and quality of fresh water bring hardship to between 1.2bn and 3bn people in almost every country. The Red Cross has said that it does not expect international aid to be able to keep up with the impact of climate change.
- Suburbia would break down, for shopping and income are dependent on the motor car and the truck – to get to shops and offices and to transport food to centralised shopping malls.
- Transportation will be limited as deliveries of oil become more difficult. Paved roads will go unrepaired and potholed and blocked by abandoned cars.
- Repair of existing plant and machinery will become increasingly difficult as spare parts are used up and the industrial infrastructure declines. Those who can remember how they lived in the Depression years of the 1930s will be the experts.
- The bankruptcy of the insurance industry would diminish replacement of industry and houses from fire and extreme events.
- Lastly, and most significantly for a world that is now awash in guns, people, in their millions, will be on the move for survival. This would lead to economic and political instability, both nationally and internationally, and even to wars as refugees seek new homes and countries clash over scarce water and food supplies. The industrial countries would be under immense pressure from huge numbers of refugees
This is the future that we are bequeathing our children and ourselves if any of us are younger than eighty. This is happening in our times, to our families and loved ones, and is no longer a distant scenario. It is here.
Those who live in the country will be better prepared than those who live in the city. A city is a place that consumes a great deal and produces little, at least in terms of essentials. A city without incoming food or water collapses rapidly, whereas a small community closely tied to the natural environment can more easily adjust to technological and economic change.
It could spell extinction for most of us, and for the planet we love,
and, of course it will be enormously worse when temperatures go above 2°C.
We have very little time to act now. Governments must stop talking and start spending. We already have the technology to solve most of these problems and still meet our growing need for energy. We even have the money! We have to get government to act.To the top