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Dystopian Reality – a Climate Change Future

A Climate Change Future

Predicting the future is a no-win scenario. There are so many variables that virtually anything is possible. Futurism inevitably becomes a matter of balancing likely outcomes from current trends, known factors and easily predictable future developments. Any attempt to predict the future will result in either one possible future or a range of possible futures. The one certain thing is that almost all the visions of the future must be wrong, because only one can be right.

This article offers one possible timeline for the next few decades, sketching environmental, socioeconomic, technological and military developments. This article considers the future between now and 2050 – well within the lifetimes of many reading this blog today. Consider it a thought experiment, designed to encourage consideration and discussion.

This timeline deliberately eschews disruptive events such as global pandemics, nuclear terrorism, asteroid impacts or the eruption of Yellowstone. These developments are possible, even (in the case of pandemic infections) likely, but placing them into a timeline would be entirely arbitrary, and the future may well unfold without them. Similarly, no deus ex machinae are included: there is no recourse to world-saving geoengineering or biotechnology developments. Altogether, what follows is a not unreasonable extrapolation of what the near future might hold for us, our children and our grandchildren.

These developments are all sourced in current literature and scientific research and linked directly to supporting evidence and analysis. These are processes that are happening now, and unless human civilisations immediately and radically change course, will continue to their inevitable end. An understanding of these likelihoods is necessary before we can honestly address the challenges of climate change, as the Paris agreements of 2015 recede into our past.

2016 – 2025

In the third world, civil unrest that arose in the early years of the 21st century continues unabated. Over the decades, the US and allies expend profligate effort to viciously subdue Islamic insurgencies in Syria and Iran, but new conflicts spring up more quickly than they can be put down. By 2025 the American people are thoroughly tired of continuing wars and American deaths and the US scales back its involvement, followed by its allies. The Middle East and large parts of the South-East Pacific dissolve into squabbles and conflict, swelling the ranks of refugees from tens of thousands into the low millions. The spark for all of these conflicts is increasing food scarcity and lack of drinkable water.

In Europe, the continued and growing influx of migrants contributes to the rise of right-wing political movements and a tightening of borders. In a desperate attempt to preserve the EU as member countries squabble over refugee policy and relative responsibilities, the Common European Asylum System border protection policy is progressively tightened and, slowly, refugee resettlement efforts give way to the establishment of giant refugee camps in barely habitable areas. The misery in these camps puts Australia’s Nauru to shame.

In Asia, China is pushing strongly for hegemony in the Pacific and the Arctic and Antarctic. Small chains of islands in the Pacific are claimed by China and forcibly pacified despite opposition. The territorial claims include oil fields and China doesn’t take long to start enforcing its ownership there. Other nations suffer as a result as they lose energy sources, but can’t challenge China. China is taken to international courts for a variety of cases, but while the legal proceedings drag on for years, China doesn’t hesitate to consolidate its hold, building artificial islands and industrial city-complexes as bases for its military forces. At the same time, enormous resources are poured into renewable energy generation. China begins to take a lead in solar and wind technology but does not share this technology easily. Large parts of China are becoming desertified at a rapid rate, with internal displacement of millions of Chinese into more fertile areas. Chinese cities, already congested, become ever more crowded and poor. China responds by commencing construction on new urban centres, completely powered by renewable energy, each built as industrial or research hubs.

Drilling for oil by US companies commences in the Arctic. However, China and Russia are also exploring here and not inclined to respect national borders and national territorial claims. This instability leads inevitably to clashes of forces, first between commercial enterprises (and, occasionally, environmental campaigners) and, later, military forces as all sides start patrolling the area with their own navies to protect the operations of their drillers. The distinction between US government and commercial entities begins to blur, to match the situation with both China and Russia. Meanwhile, the effects of climate change continue to accelerate. Tornadoes and freak storms batter coastal cities such as New Orleans, while unprecedented bushfires rage across large parts of the continental US and destroy many consecutive seasons of crops. Food prices, already increasing rapidly, escalate further.

In Australia, the narrow election victory of a Labor government in 2016 gives brief hope to many climate observers, but these hopes fade as it becomes clear that the new government, whilst not as outspokenly climate hostile as the Abbott/Turnbull regime it replaced, is still constrained by the narrative created by it and by the general attitudes of a climate-skeptical populace. Policy adjustments to reduce reliance on coal and oil and to increase renewables are slow and tentative, and by 2025 Australia is still heavily coal dependent and still exporting large volumes of coal and LNG. However, as predicted in the early parts of the decade, the demand for coal has decreased markedly as target markets accelerate their move towards renewables as well as their own domestic sources. Accordingly, the export price of coal and gas has fallen significantly, putting increasing pressure on Australia’s economy.

The economic downturn causes problems for Labor. The 2024 election sees a return to power of conservatives, but after eight years in the wilderness this new breed of liberals are far truer to the description and bring a raft of climate policies to the table, painting Labor as being “the friend of Big Coal”. By 2025, deep government “transition” subsidies to existing fossil fuel companies are on offer, but this disrupts the burgeoning renewable energy market which has until now been dominated by new entrants and innovators. 2024 sees the start of a process where most renewable energy companies and entrepeneurs will be bought up by BP, Shell, Exxon and others. By 2024, the first generation of university leavers, beneficiaries of Labor’s education investments, are graduating and entering the workforce.

It is likely that the first off-Earth colony will be established on Mars. Manned exploration of near-earth asteroids is either planned or commenced.

2025 – 2050

Rising sea levels, declining rainfall and frequent heatwaves are combining to turn vast swathes of South Asia uninhabitable. Asian and African countries are slowly but surely depopulating, both through climate refugee immigration and through deaths to disease, dehydration and starvation. Climate refugees are now an unstoppable tide numbering in the millions, swamping Europe as they arrive daily by the thousands. The EU is attempting to enforce borders with paramilitary forces but the refugees are too desperate and borders too expansive to be successfully patrolled.

Europe is now populated by two subgroups: Citizens and non-Citizens. Two parallel economies now exist. The grey economy is populated by and largely serves illegal immigrants. Not being covered by social support or healthcare from European governments, immigrant populations look after their own needs as much as possible, but are treated as second-class citizens. Crime, while still low on a per-capita basis, has exploded and public areas are now constantly patrolled by heavily armed police forces.

Populations already strongly influenced by hard-right governing parties, the first pogroms of the 21st century commence in some European countries.

In Asia, territorial wars are breaking out. Some are short skirmishes but the whole region is a simmering pot of conflicts. North Korea annexes South; without the US being willing to come to the aid of the South, the North has military superiority. However, within a few years the unified Korea is on the verge of collapse as, rather than benefiting from the economy and technology of the South, the whole of Korea starts to devolve towards its conquerors. By 2050, Korea attempts military expansion elsewhere but fails in its attempt at imperialism, and Korea collapses into a failed state. Japan is now fully self-sufficient, imports no oil and is falling behind economically; however, powered almost entirely by nuclear, the populace is relatively content. Rising sea levels are a concern for Japanese policymakers and resources are poured into levies and protection efforts. China is aggressively advancing its space exploration program and has a permanent settlement on Mars (and one on the Moon). It is starting to mine asteroids for rare minerals and metals.

China’s investment is starting to pay off, with thousands of high-level scientists and engineers living in custom-built technology cities, many completely enclosed in atmospheric domes: technology developed for their Mars colonies is now adapted for use on Earth. Inland desertification is continuing and food production is the country’s biggest ongoing concern. Coal is completely phased out for energy generation. At the same time, laws are passed banning export of fossil fuels. China begins construction of enormous enclosed farms for fish and crops, and continues an aggressive program of purchasing arable land in Australia and other locations. These efforts are now meeting with resistance as other governments see the signs but global courts and national economic systems are slow to react.

The global oil crisis plunges America into a deep depression, as the price of oil extraction climbs to make fossil fuels uneconomic. Attempts are made to leverage renewable and distributed power generation, but the process has been too slow and costs are extreme: the transition was not accomplished while energy was cheap. The US reduces its military spending to focus on a new insular approach – gone is the “muscular diplomacy” doctrine, as the government simply can’t afford to continue it and still put the resources into decarbonising the economy. Strong legislation is drafted to recraft the economy, putting caps on corporate and individual profits and ensuring a greater proportion goes to government revenue. Rebates and exceptions are drafted if individuals put significant resources into approved renewable energy projects. Belatedly the US starts subsidising renewable energy generation programs, but the oil crisis puts a significant brake on these efforts. Exacerbating the concerns for America, many of its cities are slowly becoming too hot for habitation. Americans still live in New York and Washington, but the hotter climate is having a measurable impact on productivity.

By 2030, China has banned the use of coal for energy generation, closing one of Australia’s major export markets entirely. India is advanced in its push to renewable energy and domestic coal sources, and the majority of Australia’s export coal has no buyer. The price of coal-fired energy in Australia plummets, putting downwards pressure on renewable energy research and take-up; nonetheless, major coal miners go out of business. The Australian economy is in terminal decline with high levels of unemployment nationwide and continual government deficits. New political microparties are in the ascendancy as both Labor and the Liberals suffer from public dissatisfaction, but the microparties do not have the strength or discipline to govern for the country’s future; governance devolves into a multitude of partisan interests, populist policies and pork barrelling. Australia has a brief advantage from an influx of technology students, but with few high-tech companies to employ new graduates and a new conservative government reluctant to fund placements and subsidies, many are forced to seek work overseas.

Some parts of Australia are becoming difficult to live in: the vaunted “New North” program is stalling due to high levels of heat stress, regular flooding and low productivity due to high wet-bulb readings. Towards the end of this period, the collapse in farmland, the continued sale to China and others of food-producing territory, and lowering aquifers and water levels are major concerns. Food prices are increasing. Meat, in particular, is becoming too expensive to eat regularly, and most Australians’ diets now include less meat overall. The 2040s see the last of the baby boomers retiring. Government revenue is insufficient to pay for comfortable social security for many, and the ranks of the elderly poor are swelling. Healthcare is also overstretched and death rates among both the young and the elderly are rising.

Beyond 2050

The world after 2050 may appear, to our 2016 eyes, as a dystopia, but this is no fantasy. There are no happy endings in store. The seeds which are planted over the next thirty years – both good and bad – will direct the fate of humanity as the state of the planet Earth continues to deteriorate.

By the 2050s, the Amazon rainforest is in irreversible decline. Deforestation by humans, combined with wildfires exacerbated by climate change, have had an irreversible effect. The eventual death of the rainforest is now a certainty, and as the forest itself plays a major role in regulating the planet’s climate, its loss is one further accelerant to climate change.

The most immediate outcome is the emergence of major human diseases. As climate change pushes humans and remote insect and mammalian species into direct contact and conflict, new animal-to-human diseases emerge with alarming regularity. Fortunately, most of these diseases are suppressed before they become airborne and cut a swathe through remaining human populations, but each new disease emergency has the potential to kill millions.

International flight has been curtailed: a combination of oil shortage and punishing carbon restrictions means that jet fuel is too expensive. There’s nowhere to go, in any case: people now want to escape tropical locations with their daytime temperatures in the 40s, rather than travelling there for holidays. The Great Barrier Reef has been dead for decades, and the annual vacation overseas is now, except for the very wealthy, an indulgence of the past.

By the second half of the 21st century, death from starvation is one of the major killers of humans. Large swathes of Asia, Africa and central Europe are becoming quickly depopulated. Deserts are spreading across the United States midwest, and it is likely that at some point in the century, one or more States may secede from the union. By 2100, it seems likely that the United States will be united no longer.

Disunity in the former European Union is no less severe. Pressures over resources and land, particularly water, lead to armed conflicts. The European wars of this era are localised and in many cases informal, but they are wars nonetheless. Some smaller countries are either annexed by their neighbours, or left without sufficient water resources to feed their own peoples. Other European countries are dealing with their own civil wars or popular uprisings, ostensibly on grounds of race or nationality, but triggered by food and water shortages caused by climate change.

By the late 21st century, capitalism as we know it will have been largely replaced by a kind of socialism. The loss of the oil economy has the effect of making individual prosperity much more difficult, as a large proportion of energy generation comes from state-owned solar and wind farms that dwarf those run by private concerns. Continued and growing pressure from an ever-expanding base of unemployed citizens requires an ever-increasing investment into social security. Governmental caps and curbs on individual profit gradually metamorphise into a socialist structure, and the most prosperous in society receive an increasing proportion of their windfall gains in non-monetary forms.

By the time 2100 arrives, it is likely that our planet will be harsh and unforgiving, covered in billowing deserts and rising oceans. Sea levels will continue to rise, unstoppably, for the next three hundred years at least, and by the time this process is over they will be a minimum of six metres higher than now. This will entirely cover the vast majority of current human cities, but sheer physics constrain how quickly this can happen, and human civilisation will have either collapsed or entirely changed by then.

If humans survive in this new world, most likely they will exist in artificial environments. These self-contained cities will utilise much of the renewable energy they gather for cooling, for water purification, and for agriculture. We are building a future where we will need to be terraforming our own planet in order to continue to live there.

Near-term future

The 20th century saw immense changes in human technology, civilisation and society. The development of mankind is an accelerating trajectory, and the first decades of this century have showed that we’re not slowing down. However, the effects of climate change place severe constraints on the direction of our species for the immediate future.

The one thing that can surely be said of the next hundred years is that the world in 2100 will be mostly unrecognisable to what we know today. The predictions made in this article are strongly supported by current trends and analysis, but may easily prove to be conservative. What we do know is that we will see this future coming to pass.

Humans aren’t great at planning for the long term: anything outside of our own lifetime is so remote that we don’t generally bear it in mind when making decisions. However, we are capable of making long-term plans for our own future – we consider our retirement needs, the schooling of our children, our investments into property. So consider this: those taking out a new mortgage now will see this future shaping around them. People are buying houses now that will be underwater before the mortgage is fully paid. Or, to put it another way:

This future is nine elections away.


24 comments

  1. keerti

    As always there will be poeple who come up with novell ways to deal with scarcity…the hippies of Nimbin may become the entreprenuers of the future as they expand their cash crop farming ventures to aid and increase the black economy. This will not only increase the availability of the drug, but also feed the needs of those last baby boomers with some available dollars who wish to stave of the pain of cancer without feeding the companies benefitted from the present governments recent change to the laws on medical marijuansa.. In an economy which is rushing headlong to the bottom , as australia’s is, the rise of gangs with various kinds of leaderships will almost certainly arise. Some of these will be benevolent dictatorships and because of support might be expected to take over areas of australia.With the combination of poor economy, rising costs of food and a diet based on wheat the life expectancy of australians will decrease along with the population which will gradualy become apart of Asia, though not in the way that present economists may desire. At some point the chinese having invaded most of the country by stealth may see no further need for white/anglo/australians and …Long before this it will be understood finally that humans have long been misplaced in the biology of species. It will be acknowledged that they are a special kind of virus! Viruses invade a place where food is plentifull, gorge themselves on it until they drown in their own shit. The trees and what remains of the animal kingdom will take over and humans will have been a brief experiment that failed.

  2. maxpowerof1

    Virus are a strand of RNA, neither living nor dead. They infiltrate an existing cell membrane and utilise the mitochondria of that cell for their own chemical requirements.

    Like the shitty memes that infect society they replicate all together and at the same time.

  3. ImagiNation

    keerti
    oon after 1973, the hippies realised it costs a lot of money to have nothing so they all became stockbrokers and helped cause the global economic crisis.

  4. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    The reality is that most species will be unable to evolve fast enough to deal with the climatic changes, and as such will simply die out. It is already happening at such a significant rate that we have caused a new epoch.

    With the loss of fresh water and food production, civil unrest and breakdown could quickly become massive. The US, with its significant propensity for firearms will quickly resemble a scene from World War Z or any other such zombie film, as long-pig becomes a primary protein source. China will encourage its overflow of citizens onto boats to colonise countries like Australia, and will in the short-term be successful through sheer weight of numbers. However, the lack of food and water will soon result in societal breakdown, as the complexities of modern civilisations will not be sustainable.

    There is a chance that aboriginals, able to live in the most inhospitable of climates, may survive long enough for the climate to resettle, leaving the last 200 years as a short, and strange chapter, in their ongoing oral tradition.

    Unfortunately, I think that too much damage has already been done. For the sake of my kids, I truly hope not, but even if we make far reaching changes in a very short time, I’m not hopeful. Like the yeast in a bottle of beer, we will have polluted ourselves to death in our own effluence. I wonder if the taxonomists will need to change our species name to something different than “wise man” before we wipe ourselves out?

  5. SGB

    Oh dear!

  6. Miriam English

    Of course, you know I will disagree with much of this. 🙂

    We have seen solar power adopted by families more quickly than mobile phones were and adoption continues to accelerate. Bangladesh is installing solar panels faster than any other country on the planet. We are in the middle of a revolution, but we’re like the fish who doesn’t notice the water. The rapid pace of change remains largely invisible to us.

    Wind power is already cheaper than subsidised coal! All around the world coal is collapsing right now. Solar power is, I’m pretty sure, already cheaper than unsubsidised coal and is getting cheaper daily. The end of oil is on the horizon, having already passed peak consumption — there’s no future for oil but down. It will continue to be used for centuries, but for making medicines, plastics, and other things; the time for burning it is finally almost over.

    China is already a world leader in renewable energy. It doesn’t look like it will keep it greedily to itself as it shares the technology eagerly with others. I have a friend who grew up in Africa and goes back to spend part of each year there. She always comes back to Australia with stories of how their technology is leapfrogging ours, assisted by the Chinese.

    I’m glad to see your acknowledgement of deserts colonised by sealed, self-contained, moisture-cycling cities. This is already beginning in a small way. I expect it will gather pace in the near future. I don’t think they will be the giant dome cities of science fiction, but will more likely resemble vast tracts of greenhouses, as this is how they are currently being built.

    Chinese stuff is often not well built at the moment, but most readers may be too young to remember that this was also the case with goods manufactured in Japan years ago. People used to sneer at it as “Jap crap”. Now the equipment Japan produces is the best in the world. This is noticeably trending in China too and I think we can expect the Chinese badge to soon be sought out rather than denigrated.

    The things that bother me most are sea rise and disease.

    Sea rise.
    I think this is inevitable. The accelerating melting of ice on Greenland and other Arctic icebound land masses, along with the accelerating movement of ice off Antarctica guarantee this will happen much, much faster than most people think. It will displace massive populations. The majority of humanity lives in areas that will soon be flooded. Will technology come to the rescue? Perhaps. We may see a kind of maintenance of the drowned areas so that many cities might become Venices.

    Disease.
    As climate changes and disease vectors change with them we will see many tropical diseases spread into temperate regions and new diseases spring up in the tropics. The current conservatives’ love of abandoning the poor by cutting health services could wreak havoc here. The most worrying aspect is that the uncertainty from the new diseases could cause an explosion in the birthrate, setting off a new round of out-of-control population growth. Very worrying indeed.

    I agree that democratic socialism is likely to have a rebirth very soon. Extremist capitalism seems to be dying as people have to put up with the fallout from it. Their anger mounts and patience grows thin. We will see controlled capitalism, which will be much safer and able to deliver benefits without most of the disadvantages. The danger is that this needs to be accompanied by increases in transparency to reduce corruption. If we manage this we could see an undreamed of phase of benefit. This could mitigate and even reverse many of the climate, population, and resource crises much earlier than would seem likely considering our current corrupt, opaque government and business systems.

    One of the most interesting and exciting changes is the development of carbon-based materials to replace metals, ceramics, and other things. Not only can this give us improved substances that have new and superior physical characteristics, but will almost certainly require that we supply the demand from carbon pulled out of the atmosphere. The possibility of reversing climate change using the same consumer-based forces that caused it in the first place is fascinating. We already know it is a very powerful way of producing change.

    Lastly, carbon materials give us the hope of building space elevators, making cheap, easy access to space possible and all the resources available there.

  7. Jack Russell

    Science fiction novelists have been writing about these scenarios for a VERY long time…in quite intricate and fullsome detail.

  8. Phil

    Good on you ozfenric – well thought out and a damned good read with so much to think about. It was not that long ago that electric lighting, airplanes, rockets, nuclear medicine, nuclear power, computers, batteries, rare earths, oil, immunisation et al existed – so what is to come is really a case of the utterly unknown and thus largely unimaginable today.

    The pace of change seems exponential. My hope for humanity is my hope for my offspring – my children and grandchildren who will live, I hope, in these coming times.

    As a grandparent, I find myself routinely thinking of most useful skill options to suggest for my grandchildren – what skills will best serve them long after I have gone but which they should start investigating today. I keep coming back to the fundamental survival skills of negotiation, community building, horticulture and agriculture, tool making and craft working in wood, iron and steel – and one very important other – music, since to make music is to sooth the soul and has proven a survival skill in the past as it will in the future – but maybe not electric guitar!!!

  9. Jack Russell

    I agree with you Phil. Skills that need human hands for the jobs that will always be needed by those who don’t or can’t do them themselves. I have grandchildren myself which means I am old enough to place high value on DIY and the specialsed and/or general knowledge that enables that. It pains me to see the loss of practical skills in our younger generations.

  10. Jason

    Miriam I hope we will remove carbon from the air but I think humans will more likely realise how stupid we were to waste all that stored carbon by burning it when we realise what we can use it for in much more useful ways that don’t destroy the planet. Oil is so amazing in all it contains it’s crazy we just burn it. That’s my hope anyway.

    Think carbon fibre, amazing polymers, nano particles etc.

  11. Miriam English

    Jason, you have no idea how good it feels to hear someone else say that. Oil is truly an amazing resource. It is criminal that we just burn the stuff and wreck the climate with it. Our descendants will be so pissed that we wasted it so extravagantly and disastrously.

    We burn it to push heavy machines of more than a ton of metal and glass around so that a single occupant can go from A to B, with 99% of the energy wasted in just overcoming inertia and friction and being dissipated as waste heat. This, when we can instead build some of the most wondrous materials out of it.

    We make plastic that lasts for hundreds or even thousands of years, but then discard it as “disposable” plastic bags or packaging so that the longevity of the plastic becomes a problem instead of a valued feature.

    We build cars out of metal that rusts in a few years, and we build homes out of wood that animals and fungi love to eat (it is basically sugar), and we turn our noses up at plastic, an extraordinary material that would let us build homes that could outlast the castles of yore and vehicles that could be lighter, more efficient, and safer.

    Thankfully people are slowly starting to wake up.

  12. Keith

    Biodiversity is a major issue; already there are major concerns about how the bee population is declining.
    Coral reefs have already died or are being impacted on by bleaching. Coral reefs support a huge assortment of creatures.
    The shell fish industry has been impacted on off the West Coast of the US and concerns are being expressed about warming waters and disease in relation to Australian fish farms.
    We are already in a position of climate change, pollution and overfishing having a major impact on various marine species.

    Glaciers provide water resources for communities living below them. Generally glaciers in the Himalayas and Andes are in decline.
    During the drought in California many wells became dry and wells had to be drilled deeper. In some cases the impact of aquifers losing a substantial loss of water caused slumping of land.

    Thousands of people died in 2015 from heat stroke in a number of countries including India, Pakistan, Cyprus, Middle East and Japan.

    Some of the largest storms ever experienced have occurred this Century.

    Predictions are already being made that 2016 will be the warmest year ever recorded; some believe even if there is now a slight cooling that the large temperature jumps at the beginning of the year will have an impact on the final outcome. It is more than the impact of El Nino. El Nino is an overlay of a climate already warming.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger has stated it is futile to argue whether man or natural variation have caused the climate to change; regardless, we need to be doing things to adapt and mitigate against what is happening.

    The article almost has a sense of science fiction about it; but, we are already experiencing a taster of the future.

  13. diannaart

    Humans aren’t great at planning for the long term: anything outside of our own lifetime is so remote that we don’t generally bear it in mind when making decisions.

    We are simply precocious primates. We have the ability to plan long term, but a part of us is still in the caves living day to day.

  14. Douglas Evans

    Very interesting Ozfenric. From what I remember of my reading of the relevant material you are pretty much on the money. Perhaps understating the likelihood of major conflict generated by climate change. In particular (to my way of thinking) the likelihood of major conflict as China moves to take control of the dwindling water flows from Asia’s major rivers all of which rise in Tibet and are essential to the livelihood of many millions in South and South East Asia. China is already moving to dam these rivers for both hydro-electricity generation and food production. It will control the flows downstream. As the monsoon fails, these shrinking (because they are glacier fed) rivers will be increasingly dominant as the source of water for food production. Responding to its own climatic pressures China will be forced to steadily reduce downstream flows. The result will be first mass food shortage, then hunger, then starvation throughout South and South-east Asia. At some point in this progression, war to protect the lives of the massive populations of the nations of the region will become unavoidable. Just how that will play out is anybody’s guess. What is certain is that, even if we manage to stay out of this disaster, our grandchildren will live to see the world they are born into, greatly transformed and hugely degraded. The possibilities of technological innovation (which so entrance Miriam English) may well ameliorate the details of this descent into chaos but I cannot see that they will allow ‘us’ (the bigger ‘us’) to avoid the coming storm.

  15. philgorman2014

    The dystopian possibilities are endless but this article and its contributors have certainly mapped the probabilities. There is one more certainty that needs to be factored in; the inevitability of hugely increased seismic activity with major and widespread earthquake and volcanic activity.

    The distribution of mass over the Earth’s crust is being radically changed by glacial melting. The loss of continental mass will be matched by the increased but unevenly distributed mass and volume of the oceans. The result will destabilisation of the crustal plates with increased crustal continental “bounce” and uplift.

    When added to increasing temperatures, rising oceans and weather extremes the widespread damage to human infrastructures, economies and communities will exceed the capacity for repair by most countries. Failed states will become the global norm.

  16. abbottania

    “People are buying houses now that will be underwater before the mortgage is fully paid. Or, to put it another way:

    This future is nine elections away.”

    Succinctly put.

  17. Douglas Evans

    @philgorman2014
    Good point. The likelihood of increased seismic activity as a function of ice melt/global warming has been widely discussed but is frequently overlooked. Perhaps this is connected to the difficulty of saying anything about where and when beyond the fairly useless ‘somewhere’, ‘probably more frequently’ and ‘probably with greater intensity’.

  18. win jeavons

    Did somebody say ” let them eat cake”? I believe revolutions and wars will feature largely in this future . Consider Syria . In crisis times people can become savage and brutal. A selfish materialist society is the worst prepared for a future in which we need to share and co-operate if we are to survive as more than wild animals ( many of which DO co-operate ).

  19. Jason

    @win absolutely especially fresh water wars and food wars. Not many know that the Syrian uprising was related to mass crop failures due to climate change. Seems taboo for mainstream media to even try to link anything to climate these days. Disgusting situation thankfully the majority of people do care about the climate we just need policies like labor and greens to get in power to actually make change happen. We know where the LNP stand.

  20. philgorman2014

    I think the world’s leaders are no longer able to discern right from wrong. In their wilful ignorance they have done too little too late to avert many of the dire scenarios outlined here. At least one region of India has already run out of water for drinking.

    I weep for my grandchildren.

    I impotently rage at the corporate and political machinations responsible for bringing this to pass and prose just can’t express it.

    The gaudy Philistines,
    The self-serving sociopaths,
    The power hungry psychopaths,
    The money grubbing plutocrats.

    The bankers,
    The wankers,
    The stupid, greedy bastards!
    The lying, conniving, corrupt, and utterly despicable political arseholes.

    The hypocrytes,
    The prating priests,
    The snake oil salesmen,
    The religious con artists.
    “Get rich quick with Jesus!”

    Such a parcel of rogues and knaves as was never seen before.
    The heartless amoral bastards.

    Such a ship of fools,
    They have sunk us all,
    And little children die,
    While they sup in style.

    A curse upon all their houses!
    Damn, damn, DAMN them all!
    Damn them to the hell of their own creation!

  21. Pingback: Dystopian Reality – a Climate Change Future | Random Pariah

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