Guest “Really?!?” by David Middleton
Did you know that “?!?” is an interrobang? Neither did I until I started writing this post.
What Comes After the Coming Climate Anarchy?
BY PARAG KHANNA
AUGUST 15, 2022 7:55 AM EDT
Khanna is the founder of FutureMap and author of the new book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us.
In 2021, global carbon dioxide emissions reached 36.3 billion tons, the highest volume ever recorded. This year, the number of international refugees will cross 30 million, also the highest figure ever. As sea levels and temperatures rise and geopolitical tensions flare, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that humanity is veering towards systemic breakdown. The superpowers will be no salvation: Locked in a “new Cold War,’ the U.S. careens between populism and incompetence, while China remains locked down at home and alienates many nations abroad.
We’re not very good at predicting the next five days, let alone five years.
Today it’s fashionable to speak of civilizational collapse. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) states that just a 1.5 degree Celsius rise will prove devastating to the world’s food systems by 2025.
2025 is just three years away. Let’s go to the data.
Daily food supply per capita
The article actually gets worse
Meanwhile, the most recent IPCC report warns that we must reverse emissions by 2025 or face an irreversible accelerating breakdown in critical ecosystems, and that even if the Paris agreement goals are implemented, a 2.4 degree Celsius rise is all but inevitable. In other words, the “worst case” RCP 8.5 scenario used in many climate models is actually a baseline.
RCP8.5 is a close to physically impossible as the human imagination can get. Atmospheric CO2 will probably double relative to the assumed preindustrial level around the end of this century.
Climate sensitivities derived from the closest thing to direct actual observational measurements (instrumental) yield climate sensitivities ranging from innocuous to mildly concerning. It’s also important to note that equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) is not the key parameter. The transient climate response (TCR) is what matters. It is the warming that occurs concurrent with the rise in atmospheric CO2 and it’s generally only about 1/2 to 2/3 of the ECS. So a 2 °C ECS would probably equate to a 1.0 to 1.3 °C rise in temperature as the atmospheric CO2 concentration doubles. The remainder of the ECS warming theoretically occurs over the subsequent 500 years, or so, as Trenberth’s missing heat returns from the depths of the oceans. Anywhere from 0.5 to 0.8 °C of the predicted TCR-induced warming has already occurred… Assuming arguendo that the 2.0 °C ECS estimate is reasonable, “business as usual” will lead to only an additional 0.5 °C or less of warming by 2100.
Let’s assume that we are indeed hurtling towards the worst-case scenario by 2050: Hundreds of millions of people perish in heatwaves and forest fires, earthquakes and tsunamis, droughts and floods, state failures and protracted wars.
Then he channels Thanos
But even in the most plausibly dire scenarios, billions of people will survive.
So where will the young survivors of today’s storms gather over the next 20-30 years? Which technologies will be the platforms of our future societies and economies? What new model of civilization awaits us?
He closes out with bits of plotlines from just about every post-apocalyptic science fiction movie ever made. I wish I had time to ridicule every paragraph in the article.
Dr. Parag Khanna and his PhD in international relations has earned a Billy Madison Lifetime Achievement award.
Max Roser and Hannah Ritchie (2013) – “Food Supply”. Published online at OurWorldInData.org. Retrieved from: ‘https://ourworldindata.org/food-supply’ [Online Resource]