Thursday, August 03, 2017

Doom and Gloom

For the poor, a warming planet is beginning to look apocalyptic with the droughts, floods, fires, and pestilence that accompany climate change. 

Achieving the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement that is intended to limit the scope of global warming is hard to imagine. All indications are that we are seeing increases in average temperatures, more frequent and more intense severe weather events, changing weather patterns and a sea-level rise around the globe. This threatens each and every single one of us but many are particularly vulnerable. The situation is even worse than you think.  Much of the planet will likely become inhospitable and close to uninhabitable. There are media stories each day that show the extent and effect of global warming. The harm and destruction are horrifying. Experts give us only slim odds of achieving the Paris two degree goal, the threshold of ecological catastrophe. 

 The conclusion to make is that no plausible capitalist programme of emissions reductions can prevent environmental disaster.  For every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent. Which means that if the planet is five degrees warmer at the end of the century, we may have as many as 50 percent more people to feed and 50 percent less grain to give them.  By 2080, without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in a permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American dust bowl ever was. As for the American prairies, it would be even worse than in the 1930s. In fact, worse than any droughts over the last thousand years  The same will be true in much of the Middle East, Australia, Africa, and South America; as well as the breadbasket regions of China. None of these places, which today supply much of the world’s food, will be reliable sources of any. 

Theoretically, of course, a warmer climate will make it easier to grow crops in what is now presently tundra but you can’t easily move arable farming north and fertility is limited by the quality of the soil. It takes many centuries for the planet to produce fruitful fields.

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