Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The coffee machine is running hot in Guardian Climate HQ.
The heat is on over the climate crisis. Only radical measures will work
Sun 19 May 2019 01.00 AEST
Drowned cities; stagnant seas; intolerable heatwaves; entire nations uninhabitable… and more than 11 billion humans. A four-degree-warmer world is the stuff of nightmares and yet that’s where we’re heading in just decades.
The good news is that humans won’t become extinct – the species can survive with just a few hundred individuals; the bad news is, we risk great loss of life and perhaps the end of our civilisations. Many of the places where people live and grow food will no longer be suitable for either. Higher sea levels will make today’s low-lying islands and many coastal regions, where nearly half the global population live, uninhabitable, generating an estimated 2 billion refugees by 2100. Bangladesh alone will lose one-third of its land area, including its main breadbasket.
Rockström doesn’t like our chances. “It’s difficult to see how we could accommodate a billion people or even half of that,” he says. “There will be a rich minority of people who survive with modern lifestyles, no doubt, but it will be a turbulent, conflict-ridden world.”
Others are more sanguine. “I don’t think that humans as a species or even industrial civilisation is seriously threatened,” says Ken Caldeira, climatologist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in California. “People live in Houston, Miami and Atlanta because they live in air conditioning through the hot summers. If people are rich enough to air-condition their lives, they can watch whatever is the successor to Game of Thrones on TV, as the natural world decays around them,” he says. But he points out that while richer people risk a loss to their quality of life, the poorer risk their actual lives.
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/may/18/climate-crisis-heat-is-on-global-heating-four-degrees-2100-change-way-we-live
Good old Ken Caldeira.
I must say this climate communique is a little more garbled than the Guardian’s usual efforts, but I think we get the idea – if we don’t mend our wicked ways we might need to spend more time indoors basking in air conditioned comfort while the house robot weeds the garden. Or something like that.