Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Climate change: Uninhabitable

Last year we saw the first suggestion that climate change might make parts of our planet uninhabitable, with a combination of humidity and temperature making some places unsurvivable for more than a few hours. And today, we learn that one of the places where this is most likely to happen is the North China Plain:

The deadliest place on the planet for extreme future heatwaves will be the north China plain, one of the most densely populated regions in the world and the most important food-producing area in the huge nation.

New scientific research shows that humid heatwaves that kill even healthy people within hours will strike the area repeatedly towards the end of the century thanks to climate change, unless there are heavy cuts in carbon emissions.


The research, published in the journal Nature Communications, found fatal WBTs [Wet Bulb Temperatures] of 35C would strike the north China plain repeatedly between 2070 and 2100, unless carbon emissions are cut. Shanghai, for example, would exceed the fatal threshold about five times and the “extreme danger” WBTs would occur hundreds of times. Even if significant carbon cuts are made, the “extreme danger” WBT would be exceeded many times.

Or, to put it another way: climate change is going to cause death on an unimaginable scale, and a significant disruption to China's food supply, with all the flow-on effects that entails. And all of this by the end of the century.

China is already taking climate change seriously, and the threat to food will cause them to take it even more seriously, because they understand the link between food security and regime stability. Hopefully they'll do enough, and convince other large polluters to do enough too. Otherwise, the consequences will be dire.