Thursday, June 06, 2019

Climate Change: An existential threat

How bad is the threat of climate change? Existential risk to civilisation bad:

A new climate report co-authored by a former fossil fuel executive has painted a bleak outlook for the future of human civilisation - including nuclear war.

Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach, published by Australian thinktank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, suggests climate warnings from the likes of the UN are downplaying the sheer chaos that could erupt by 2050 as the world warms.

If emissions don't start to fall until 2030 - behind the goal set by the 2015 Paris Agreement - the authors say the world could warm 3C by 2050 "due to the activation of a number of carbon-cycle feedbacks". This could result in sea levels rising 0.5m by 2050, 3m by 2100 as ice sheets and permafrost melt, and up to 25m in the longer-term.

"Thirty-five percent of the global land area, and 55 percent of the global population, are subject to more than 20 days a year of lethal heat conditions, beyond the threshold of human survivability," by 2050, the report says."

And what this means is famine, war, and death on a massive scale. Some countries will simply cease to exist. Others, facing starvation or water shortages or just not enough space, will go to war to secure those resources. And the pressure from that could push us into nuclear war. But even if we manage to keep the lid on that particular horror, the loss of farmland and the uninhabitability of major population areas is likely to mean a major population crash, and that's really not going to be pleasant.

As for 25m of sea-level rise, Floodmap shows us what that means for New Zealand: practically every major city will be underwater. Palmerston North will be a beach town. Hamilton, Rotorua, Taupo and Queenstown will be OK, and that's where we'll all have to live. I guess it'll be getting crowded then.

If we don't want this to happen, we need to act like this is an actual crisis, and reduce our emissions as quickly as possible. As for the foot-draggers who want to delay action so they can make a bit more money by destroying the world, we should treat them like they're trying to kill us. Because that is, in fact, what they're doing.