The Science Of The Future
A couple of papers for the science minded. I’ve written a summary of these effects below each science paper.
An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress
Despite the uncertainty in future climate-change impacts, it is often assumed that humans would be able to adapt to any possible warming. Here we argue that heat stress imposes a robust upper limit to such adaptation. Peak heat stress, quantified by the wet-bulb temperature TW, is surprisingly similar across diverse climates today. TW never exceeds 31 °C. Any exceedence of 35 °C for extended periods should induce hyperthermia in humans and other mammals, as dissipation of metabolic heat becomes impossible. While this never happens now, it would begin to occur with global-mean warming of about 7 °C, calling the habitability of some regions into question. With 11–12 °C warming, such regions would spread to encompass the majority of the human population as currently distributed. Eventual warmings of 12 °C are possible from fossil fuel burning. One implication is that recent estimates of the costs of unmitigated climate change are too low unless the range of possible warming can somehow be narrowed. Heat stress also may help explain trends in the mammalian fossil record.
There are a LOT of assumptions when it comes to what humans can “do” or how we might react to a warming world. I’ve found many of them to be simply wrong. Carbon credits, carbon capture, sequestering, and infrastructure resiliency are the most common in error. Many of the wishful technologies imagined simply do not exist. Any estimations, projections or imagined responses by humankind on such vapor-technology should not be seriously considered, but they are. At the heart of many of the climate projection reports are silly-minded adaption and mitigation strategies that rely upon these invisible technologies. In other words – they are simply making it all up, claiming we’ll solve the crisis through new inventions that must be brought up to a global scale.
This is beyond dangerous, it’s quite stupid to make such claims. But policymakers are pretty stupid themselves and will do anything to look good to their constituents. So they’ll grasp at these flimsy straws and pretend that we’re going to solve the climate crisis with these imagined, invisible, non-existent solutions. If any other industry or business took this type of approach, they’d be bankrupt tomorrow, because their stockholders would scream bloody murder and dump their worthless stock.
You, my dear readers, and everyone else on this planet that doesn’t get elucidated from this blog, are the stockholders. And you are being grossly lied to, but it’s even worse then that. You’re being set up for failure, and I do not mean financial failure, “you’ve lost your retirement” kind of thing. I mean total, absolutely, irrevocable, life-ending failure. You’re going to die.
You’re going to die because the world’s leaders, policy makers and corporations have been lying to you since before you were born. They’ve known about the devastating effects of burning fossil fuels and changing the chemical composition of the atmosphere for a very long time, but they’ve refused to do anything about it. And of course, they still are, beyond paying minimal lip-service to the entire topic. So this is why we still have the same business-as-usual model at work in the world today, very little has been changed, nearly nothing has been done to prevent global catastrophic failure.
Very few sites, authors, blogs or books will tell you like it really is. You have to really search them out, wiping away all the false hopium and useless dross that gets dribbled all around the vanilla ice-cream future most websites will pretend to convey. Not here. I’m only interested in dealing with reality, not fiction, or even science-fiction.
Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia
The risk associated with any climate change impact reflects intensity of natural hazard and level of human vulnerability. Previous work has shown that a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C can be considered an upper limit on human survivability. On the basis of an ensemble of high-resolution climate change simulations, we project that extremes of wet-bulb temperature in South Asia are likely to approach and, in a few locations, exceed this critical threshold by the late 21st century under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas emissions. The most intense hazard from extreme future heat waves is concentrated around densely populated agricultural regions of the Ganges and Indus river basins. Climate change, without mitigation, presents a serious and unique risk in South Asia, a region inhabited by about one-fifth of the global human population, due to an unprecedented combination of severe natural hazard and acute vulnerability.
The enormous human crisis in South Asia is already unfolding, as it is in every other heat-stressed region on the globe. This is what lies behind the massive immigration and refugee crisis taking place throughout equatorial regions, pushing up north into Europe and America. Millions of people are leaving drought-stricken lands, further exacerbated by violence, starvation and economic collapse within these affected regions – and we are a long way yet from the anticipated global temperatures to come.
Future temperature in southwest Asia projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability
A human body may be able to adapt to extremes of dry-bulb temperature (commonly referred to as simply temperature) through perspiration and associated evaporative cooling provided that the wet-bulb temperature (a combined measure of temperature and humidity or degree of ‘mugginess’) remains below a threshold of 35 °C. (ref. 1). This threshold defines a limit of survivability for a fit human under well-ventilated outdoor conditions and is lower for most people. We project using an ensemble of high-resolution regional climate model simulations that extremes of wet-bulb temperature in the region around the Arabian Gulf are likely to approach and exceed this critical threshold under the business-as-usual scenario of future greenhouse gas concentrations. Our results expose a specific regional hotspot where climate change, in the absence of significant mitigation, is likely to severely impact human habitability in the future.
Science speak generally requires the authors to use phrases like “likely to severely impact human habitability in the future”. This is much kinder then simply stating the facts of what this means. People in these affected regions at these temperature thresholds or higher will die if they stay in place. The 35 °C threshold has long been understood as the tolerable limit for human survival.
But this doesn’t actually represent and even bigger problem of plant (crop) survival. At just 4 °C increase over current temperatures, crops will be failing all over the world. While much of the world has been focused on humans, infrastructure, habitability and temperatures, a smaller portion (much smaller) has been thinking about how in the world will we feed everyone?
Rising temperatures means water scarcity, soil salinization, falling pollination, crop failures, market volatility, increased competition and rising prices.
For the top four maize-exporting countries, which account for 87% of global maize exports, the probability that they have simultaneous production losses greater than 10% in any given year is presently virtually zero, but it increases to 7% under 2 °C warming and 86% under 4 °C warming.
Future warming increases probability of globally synchronized maize production shocks
Competition and crop failures has already driven up food prices dramatically. We’ve all experienced it, but I have perhaps more then most. I’ve seen food storage of real food products double, then triple, then quadruple in price in the last 20 years. Global exports and imports presently cushion some of these food shocks, but rising sea levels will eventually mean that this also ends.
Massive crop failures will occur before 4 °C as plant-respiration rates are exceeded (and drought / deluge goes nuts throughout the world). This seems to be one of the most overlooked facts of all. It’s absolutely possible that starvation will encompass vast swaths of the globe before we think about how infrastructure fails on a wide scale due to the rising temperatures.
Don’t forget the other critical issue that is seems to be overlooked too – 95% of American sea ports will be totally unusable due to sea level rise by then, so this mean many other sea ports around the world will also be unusable. Global shipping will shut down and/or be greatly diminished affecting both economies and availability in a huge way. The economic effects alone will have catastrophic consequences on the global market and trade of essential and non-essential goods.
So then, whatever little food is still being produced in plant-tolerable temperatures (elsewhere), will be hotly contested (pun intended), limited in supply (highly affected by temperatures and pollination variations due to rising temps) and extremely difficult to transport (and insanely expensive). Wealthy countries individuals will eat, but what about everyone else?
This is the future world that is unfolding. It’s not fantasy or fiction, it’s reality.
Much of my country (America) remains almost completely oblivious to this unfolding disaster, despite the increasingly strident warnings coming from climate scientist and researchers. They’ve got the time and the money to screw around with their lives, but little to no interests in making any plans for their future or their children.
I’m a new grandpa, and I’m absolutely, positively TERRIFIED for my grandson and the future he’s facing. You should be too – but most of you are not. Screen addictions and social media have captured the minds of billions of people and every single one of these people are walking straight towards disaster. While I know we can’t prevent what is going to happen, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to slow it down or make preparations before it happens. However, virtually all of the discussions, planning and coordination that I’ve seen published, none of it includes the facts that I’ve shared above.
How is this possible? In part, because of the incredible science disconnect policy makers have today. Arctic News states it clearly:
Despite irrefutable evidence for global warming, such fabrications are still quoted by pro-coal lobbies and compliant politicians, including:
- Denial of basic laws of physics, i.e. the blackbody radiation laws of Plank, Stefan-Boltzmann and Kirchhoff
- Denial of direct observations and measurements in nature, in particular the sharp rises of temperatures, ice melt rates, sea level rise and extreme weather events.
- Denial of the global warming origin of extreme weather events, i.e. the closely monitored rise in storms, hurricanes, fires and droughts in several parts of the world.
- Denial of the bulk of the peer-reviewed literature summed up in the IPCC reports.
- Denial of conclusions of the world’s premier climate research organizations (NASA, NOAA, NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Centre), Hadley-Met, Tindale, Potsdam, WMO (World Meteorological Organization), CSIRO, BOM and other organizations).
In view of the rapidly growing direct evidence from the increase in extreme weather events, the common tactic has changed from outright denial to a minimization of the significance and consequences of the shift in state of the climate.
The Science of the Future never imagined a world where almost everyone would bury their heads into the sand and pretend that their own survival could be broadly ignored. Yet it has happened. This doesn’t mean science was wrong, it means human fallibility and failures have triumphed once again. This phenomenon is actually well known. I’ve made a few necessary changes to reflect the real facts:
The problem is that the human risk perception system is based more on emotion and instincts than on reason and rationality, and that bodes poorly for dealing with the immensely complex threat we all face from living unsustainably on Planet Earth. 6 billion 7.7 billion of us – due to reach 9 billion within 40 years 20 years – are taking too much stuff from and dumping too much waste into a finite biological system. We are already starting to experience the consequences – from climate change and deforestation to loss of clean water, and fish from the ocean, we’re even running low on basic non-renewable resources – yet we’re counting on a risk perception system to save us that’s better designed to protect us from snakes and the dark than global abstractions laced with technological complexity and unknowns.
We know that we don’t face complex risks properly. This is now being fully expressed within our political systems and economic activity. We exhibit “Optimism Bias”.
Though climate change is apparently already underway, the harms we hear about lie beyond the horizon of time, and we tend to see what lies beyond the horizon through rose-colored glasses. Which is not great news for the complex long term perils of our unsustainable ways.
We know that there is virtually nothing “rose-colored” about the future of climate change. Not a single thing if we’re being honest. But we’re still unable to effectively grasp the risks we’re all facing despite knowing full well that “something bad” is going to happen.
The personal perception of just how bad things might be is also called confirmation bias, “the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories“. So we’re filtering what we believe in accordance to our existing beliefs and theories. This is why we cannot make any headway – our existing “beliefs” are preventing progress and necessary change in the face of an existential threat. We do not even perceive climate change as an existential threat because our confirmation bias prevents us from accepting that fact despite the known evidence. That prevention of belief, and therefore action and change, is rooted in our false belief systems.
I’ve written about this too many to count before. There is a plague of stupid in America (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (and many more). Yet my efforts here go almost entirely unnoticed or rejected. But that’s what anyone should reasonably expect when dealing with a stupid plague. Yet I’d still like to save some of humanity from an increasingly bleak and ugly future. I know that it is not possible to save everyone, but letting our species go extinct goes against everything that I believe in myself, my own “confirmation bias”. The Earth may have other plans for our species. Staying stupid and being stupid and insisting on stupid may mean that there really is no place for our species on this planet. A species that kills itself has no rights to exist. But we are not all like that. In fact, a minority (and very vocal) of the world’s population is actually like that.
The rest are generally silent and complicit. That needs to stop. Either we stand up for ourselves and our future and our kids and our grandchildren or accept our own failures to act when we had the chance. The future we may have imagined isn’t real. There is nothing rosy-colored about any of it. Science has spoken and it portrays a increasingly dangerous, suffering, hellish world that came about because we didn’t do anything about it. When our politicians voted against our future interests and that of our own children, we stayed home. We signed online petitions. We bitched about it on Facebook. But we sat on our asses and did nothing else.
Years ago, decades – I took the strong position that I would not be one of “those people” that satisfied their political action with empty words and actions. I didn’t bother writing any books or engaging in any street protests or attending any marches. These actions almost never work or accomplish anything. But I did change my life, drastically. I believed the science and their conclusions and it was relatively easy for me to grasp where this was going long ago. Decades later, it’s all still proving to be true.
Most of us act like this is all “somebody else’s problem” and they could not be MORE WRONG. It’s our common problem whether we like it or not. It’s our future that will happen to US and to our children. It’s now deeply encoded into the very fabric of our civilization and immutable now because too few did too little and accomplished almost nothing. They tried, and they engaged, and they struggled, but they were widely ignored, unsupported, ridiculed and reviled. That’s OUR FAULT TOO. We should have thrown away our stupid smart phones and cancelled our social media accounts and got down in the trenches and HELPED THEM when it counted. It might have made a difference back then.
Now, this country is saddled with a stupid, ignorant, arrogant, intensely narcissistic bigot who is actively trying to destroy the future of this nation and that of the world. Many are still championing their own destruction and their setting up this nation for a catastrophic collapse. Trump has appointed lobbyist, industry executives and big oil figures to head up environment, science, technology and education appointments. He’s actively undermined every environmental protection he can, reverting this entire country backwards towards more destruction, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and toxic wastes. His climate denial position is well known, but it’s not facts he’s endorsing, just ignorance, confirmation bias and rampant stupidity (which too many citizens continue to express and endorse).
They don’t grasp the consequences of these actions. If they did, they would be truly terrified, but many of them remain dead asleep, lulled into a totally false sense of security that the future will be similar to the past. Nobody, and I mean nobody, with real knowledge believes that.
The future will not be rose-colored. It will be hellish, hot, increasingly impacted by devastating storms and extreme weather events. It will also be our fault that this happened. Humankind has pushed the Earth far beyond sustainable limits and deep into massive energy imbalance. All of the activity that continues to contribute to these Earth changes needs to STOP. Business-as-usual is the recipe that guarantees our extinction. Many people are employed in these activities, rapidly depleting the Earth as quickly as possible. Their not innocent. Their culpable, just like everyone else is, including me.
I attempted to build a life-support system that would sustain me and my family, but learned just how difficult this really is. I’m surrounded by an entire civilization that massively overwhelms anything that I could do to effect meaningful change. In effect, the whole world has resigned itself into accepting disaster. How many of my readers are content with that? If disaster is now inevitable and even essential (a point I’ve raised before) does that mean you’re all ready to die (horribly)? I think not. I think that this self-defeatism is at the heart of some people’s ideas about the future, and I continue as always, to totally disagree with it.
Humans have always tried and struggled to survive. That has never changed. That will never change. This is why I totally reject the “inevitability of collapse” because despite the inevitability, we will still – each one of us – try to survive (no matter what we may claim now). Yet many people remain too indifferent, too lazy, too preoccupied to try now when it counts the most. Nor will they help those who are trying. They want to “postpone” any effort, for them and everyone else, for as long as possible. That’s not only suicide, it’s biocide. The deliberate and intentional refusal to save and preserve life. If you want to know just how many of these kinds of people are thinking and acting this way, just look around. It’s almost everybody. Almost everybody is working against the future by depleting and destroying the present. We don’t like to think of it this way, but those are the real facts.
The science-based projections don’t allow for anything like the present to survive into the future. I’m still working on the Life Project, bit by bit (I have a lot going on here), I fully expect that something like this will be developed in the declining human future. Most of the other ideas I’ve seen assume civilization can somehow be retrofitted into some kind of stability, but I doubt this very much. Saving the civilization that created the problems we’re now experiencing doesn’t make much sense, it’s just another way of saying business as usual with same associated destruction, depletion, pollution and indifference as before. We need something entirely different, based on an entirely new model for existence.
The world isn’t ready for this and in all likelihood, never will be. Thus, the emphasis on a ‘private effort’. There’s too much brainwashing, indoctrination and adherence to outdated concepts and ideas to withstand public presentation and involvement. Optimism bias and confirmation bias and many other human faults present some of the difficult obstacles to overcome. But so does everything else. In the meanwhile, I’m trying to present awareness and ideas to get people motivated to act. Accepting the inevitability of the future doesn’t mean to do nothing. It means to act responsibly, decisively and take action, irregardless of the projections of outcome.