Ring The Bell: This Is Our Future
By John James
07 November, 2014
When the IPCC promises that mean world temperature will rise by between 3.7 and 4.8 degrees by the end of the century if we go on as we are, what would this actually mean to our daily reality? We are told the likely outcome in very general scientifically correct sentences, but what do these words mean in actual events we would have to live with?
Lets move just halfway there, to more than 2 degrees, which was the temperature in the Pliocene just three million years ago. That is a temperature we should reach around the middle of the century, well within the lifetime of most of us.
In the Pliocene there were no glaciers and trees covered the Arctic. At this temperature trees would be emitting carbon back into the air and thus making it even hotter. And the soil too, in every part of the world, would be returning its carbon - most dramatically in the great forested tropic lands of the Amazon and Congo. At this temperature most of the crops we rely on, wheat, rice and pasture, will be less productive just as we will be needing more and more from them.
By then there will be, or would have been if it were not so hot, 9 billion of us on the planet.
Greenland and the Antarctic will have begun to collapse and the sea level will be rising. In the Pliocene the seas were 25 metres higher than they are today, that is nearly 80 feet! Almost every great city will have become uninhabitable and the people in them struggling onto higher ground. While the oceans that could feed us becomes acidic and stagnant.
What does this mean for us humans, for our families and friends? Horrible starvation, war and plague. People threatened and weakened are less able to tend the fields. Panic violence is everywhere as we all struggle to get something to eat. And in the rush who cares about preserving canals and granaries and warehouses when all you want is a crust, a snatch of water, a few moments sleep. Senseless madness in a horrible fight for survival will weaken the very structure need to make survival possible.
Low lying areas in Bangladesh and China will have been flooded early. Where Florida is rich and its people will elbow anyone out of the way to relocate and find food, China and India will be another story. How will they cope as the hordes storm inland? Both are nuclear, so how will each deal with the millions moving relentlessly to higher and hopefully still fertile ground? Wars over food and land and water will turn the cities into morgues. Where there is no refuge in a world awash with weapons don’t expect mercy or compassion.
How will the Australians deal with the tide of boat people when more than a million of their own have been displaced along the coast? Intense and devastating super-cyclones springing out of the warming sea will carry the destruction far inland. What the catastrophic fires have not destroyed the floods will wash away leaving our fertile land a dried-out desert.
Choking on dust and deluged by water how will Australia and the Argentine, the breadbaskets of the world, be able to feed the billions? And if they did how would they transport it when all the docks and cranes are under water, and the highways and coastal railways below the sea?
Where would we find a government able to raise taxes or even borrow to rebuild the broken bridges, the flooded schools and hospitals. Life would be brutal and dangerous. None would find exception, not even the rich. With no possibility of international aid, refugees will force their way into any remaining habitable enclaves and fight desperately for food and drinkable water.
This is the world that will be emerging quite soon if we don’t stop polluting the planet. Gaia doesn’t care if we all die. She has seen it all many times before. And each time the final thrust of annihilation has come from bursts of methane, released from the depths by the gaining heat, just as we are seeing the process beginning in the Arctic today.
We are on the road to watching our earth become a dead and desolate rock in space. The only winners would be fungi that flourish on the death of all around them. We will be watching this horror unfold as grief and catastrophe combine to disintegrate our lives.
And all this is promised us because we cannot raise the intelligence to change the way we live. Though it would cost little and take away even less, we wont even try. Fuck the human species for being unwilling to protect the only home we have.
John James is an Australian architect, builder, farmer, therapist and medieval historian with a passion for the truth. He founded the www.planetextinction.com site eight years ago and issues a regular newsletter. He has lectured and corresponded around the world on environmental issues since the 70s. He has a solar house, grows most of his food and is learning to be self-sufficient – a much harder task than people let on.
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