Scorched Earth

 •  Filed under Science, Climate Change, Posts

A sobering read about the future of the planet and what climate change effects could result in in a hundred years time.

Heat is just one of a number of problems we face in the future.

Even if we meet the Paris goals of two degrees warming, cities like Karachi and Kolkata will become close to uninhabitable, annually encountering deadly heat waves like those that crippled them in 2015. At four degrees, the deadly European heat wave of 2003, which killed as many as 2,000 people a day, will be a normal summer. At six, according to an assessment focused only on effects within the U.S. from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, summer labor of any kind would become impossible in the lower Mississippi Valley, and everybody in the country east of the Rockies would be under more heat stress than anyone, anywhere, in the world today.

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

And the problem of pollution doesn't get any better

Then there are the more familiar forms of pollution. In 2013, melting Arctic ice remodeled Asian weather patterns, depriving industrial China of the natural ventilation systems it had come to depend on, which blanketed much of the country’s north in an unbreathable smog. Literally unbreathable. A metric called the Air Quality Index categorizes the risks and tops out at the 301-to-500 range, warning of “serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly” and, for all others, “serious risk of respiratory effects”; at that level, “everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion.”

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

And finally there's the problem of the rising oceans.

Barring a radical reduction of emissions, we will see at least four feet of sea-level rise and possibly ten by the end of the century. A third of the world’s major cities are on the coast, not to mention its power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice-paddy empires, and even those above ten feet will flood much more easily, and much more regularly, if the water gets that high. At least 600 million people live within ten meters of sea level today.

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

I've read about the recent attempts by scientists to create devices that trap and process carbon dioxide emissions but everything so far as been on a smaller scale. Reading this article on the NY mag website, I immediatley thought of the Aliens movie and the massive terraforming plant that features in that movie. Nevermind terraforming other planets, perhaps we'll have to terraform our own planet first in order to survive.