January 15, 2018
454 Global Warming Effects [15 Jan 2018]
Last week I showed that global warming is more serious than mainstream news has led us to believe, and that it may even be taking us into another major extinction event. Three July 2017 New York magazine articles by David Wallace-Wells describe how an increase in global CO2 and temperature will affect life on Earth over the next few centuries.
The most obvious effect is that the Earth will get hotter. A large portion of the tropics including most of Australia will become uninhabitable and people in temperate areas such as the USA and Europe will suffer significant heat stress. Wallace-Wells predicts “the deadly European heat wave of 2003 which killed as many as 2,000 people a day will [at 4 oC warmer] be a normal summer.” Kidney failure from heat stress is already killing El Salvador sugar cane workers that were unaffected only a few decades ago.
Food production will be greatly affected. The ideal grain growing climate of the American and Canadian prairies will move north into the rocky Canadian Shield. Severe drought will limit or prevent food production over much of the currently inhabited world. Much of the best arable land along the coasts will be under water or damaged by salinity from groundwater contamination and storm surges.
Tropical diseases such as malaria will spread poleward from the tropics.
As the atmosphere warms, ozone levels rise adding to air pollution. Oxygen will be depleted as forests die off from drought and wildfires. The Amazon produces 20% of Earth’s oxygen and has already experienced two “100 year” droughts since 2000. At some point the air will become unbreathable.
Damage from extreme weather events like hurricanes, tornadoes and wild fires will increase. We are already seeing stronger and more frequent hurricanes.
The ocean is predicted to rise between 4 and 10 feet by the end of the century, displacing at least 600 million people. The oceans absorb about a third of the carbon from the air causing the water to become acidic and oxygen-depleted, killing coral reefs, fish and other marine life.
Armed conflict will undoubtedly increase. Migration out of flooded and drought-stricken areas will dwarf the 65 million currently displaced by war and genocide. Conflicts over dwindling land, water and food is inevitable.
Economic recession will follow from the loss of agricultural production, loss of flooded infrastructure, destruction from storms and fires, increased war and crime, shorter lifespans, and increased mortality. Economists predict a greater than 50% chance that global GDP will drop 20% by 2100 and a 12% chance it will drop 50%.
Our grandchildren will grow up in a much different world than we did.
Sources for further reading:
New York magazine articles from July 2017
The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells
The Models are Too Conservative - interview with Peter Douglas Ward
The Worst Case Scenario - interview with Wallace Smith Broecker (the man who coined the term "Global Warming")
NASA Climate Data
The Sixth Extinction - An Unnatural History - Elizabeth Kolbert
The Flooded Earth - Peter Douglas Ward