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Climate competitiveness 2: When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green

By Joe Romm on March 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

"Climate competitiveness 2: When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green"


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In Why the United States REQUIRES a strong climate bill to remain competitive, Part 1, I reprised the thesis first documented by Harvard’s Michael Porter — strong, leading edge, pro-innovation regulations promote national competitiveness. As President Obama said yesterday:

We can let the jobs of tomorrow be created abroad, or we can create those jobs right here in America and lay the foundation for our lasting prosperity.

It is Obama’s final point — “lasting prosperity” — that is the focus of this post. Obama is hinting at a point I tried to make explicit with last week in my interview with NYT‘s Tom Friedman and subsequent post (see “Is the global economy a Ponzi scheme“):

“We created a way of raising standards of living that we can’t possibly pass on to our children,” said Joe Romm.

To perpetuate the high returns the rich countries in particular have been achieving in recent decades, we have been taking an ever greater fraction of nonrenewable energy resources (especially hydrocarbons) and natural capital (fresh water, arable land, forests, fisheries), and, the most important nonrenewable natural capital of all — a livable climate.

In short, we have failed to designed a system capable of lasting prosperity. Quite the reverse.

Like all Ponzi schemes, the system must collapse. When it does, the only jobs left standing will be those that are “green” — which can be defined as those jobs that do not plunder nonrenewable energy resources and natural capital and/or do not to destroy a livable climate.

Strong climate legislation and a strong clean energy bill are not the only measures needed to avert the collapse, but they are an essential first start. Absent such action, the collapse is inevitable.

When will be collapse begin and what will it look like? I expect most opinion makers and the majority of the public to get desperate about reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the 2020s. But desperation is not collapse. I have tended to think that the inflection point is around 2030.

Now it just so happens that the UK government’s chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out something very close to the collapse scenario in his speech yesterday to the government’s Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster. He warned that by 2030, “A ‘perfect storm’ of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions,” as the UK’s Guardian put it.

You can see a five-minute BBC interview with Beddington here. The speech is now online, so I will excerpt it at length (sorry I don’t have the graphs):

… last year is the lowest level of reserves that we have had as a proportion of our consumption in years, since 1970 and actually since records were taken of this sort.That means that we’ve got somewhere like reserves of around 14% of our consumption, that implies, give or take, 38 or 39 days of food reserves if we don’t grow any more.

As you can see, it’s the lowest level that we’ve actually had. Is that a problem? Well the answer is yes it is going to be a problem. We saw the food spike last year; prices going up by something in the order of 300%, rice went up by 400%, we saw food riots, we saw major issues for the poorest in the world, in the sense that the organisations like the World Food Programme did not have sufficient money to buy food on the open market and actually use it to feed the poorest of the poor.

So this is a major problem. You can see the catastrophic decline in those reserves, over the last five years or so, indicates that we actually have a problem; we’re not growing enough food, we’re not able to put stuff into the reserves….

So, what are the drivers? I am going to go through them now very briefly.

First of all, population growth. World population grows by six million every month — greater than the size of the UK population every year. Between now and… I am going to focus on the year 2030 and the reason I am going to focus on 2030 is that I feel that some of the climate change discussions focusing on 2100 don’t actually grip…. I am going to look at 2030 because that’s when a whole series of events come together.

By 2030, looking at population terms, you are looking at the global population increasing from a little over six billion at the moment to about eight billion. What is actually happening to that extra population?

First of all, there is a second trend which is to do with population, which is urbanisation. Now as you can see (*refers to slideshow*) the crossover, for the first time in 2009, the urban population exceeded the rural population. And by 2030 again, looking at this graph, you can see that round about by 2030, the urban population is going to be substantially greater than the rural population: major issues for land use, major issues for providing that large urban population with food, with water and with energy. But the population will be distributed very differently to anything we’ve seen before. So, urbanisation is the second trend.

Now, the other trend which is actually good and which I spoke about last year and which is still there, is that, despite global recession, significant proportions of the developing world are actually moving out of what would be abject poverty and we are seeing a creation of what you might think of as middle class, particularly in India and China. Now that lifting from poverty is part of the Millennium Development Goals, we wish to see the world out of poverty, but as the world moves out of poverty, consumption patterns change.

I am going to deal with some of those in a little while, but in particular, we are going to see an increase in the demand for food. Looking at the demand for food, you are going to see major changes but particularly in the demand for livestock — meat and dairy. Now, this is not the West that is doing this. This is largely coming from the developing world as they move from very, very simple diets based on very simple agricultural products to more complex agricultural products, including livestock. [These are] perfectly reasonable and legitimate aims for countries moving out of abject poverty.

Quite clearly, there are issues to the individual, within the UK, about to what extent one eats high production diets, for example like large steaks. Someone gave me an indication that a steak meal has used as much carbon as actually driving a large Range Rover from London to Birmingham, so the next time you’re sitting down to your steak and chips, ponder that!

By 2030, the demand for food is going to be increased by about 50%. Can we do it? One of the questions. There is a major food security issue by 2030. We’ve got to somehow produce 50% more by that time.

The second issue I want to focus on is the availability of fresh water. If you’re looking at this slightly complicated graph, we are looking at the top left for the moment, which is showing that the fresh water available per head of the world population is around 25% of what it was in 1960. To give you some idea of this; there are enormous potential shortages in certain parts of the world… China has something like 23% of the world’s population and 11% of the world’s water.

Looking at the right-hand side of the graph, you can see that the massive use of water is in agriculture and particularly in developing world agriculture. Something of the order of 70% of that. One in three people are already facing water shortages and the total world demand for water is predicted to increase by 30% by 2030.

So, we’ve got food — expectation of demand increase of 50% by 2030, we’ve got water — expectation of demand increase of 30% by 2030. And in terms of what it looks like, we have real issues of global water security.

If you look at the graph, the red figures are where there is genuine water stress (this is a prediction of stress in 2025, a little before 2030), so we’re seeing it. Look at some of the places you would expect it, I have mentioned China and also parts of India, but look at parts of southern Europe where by 2025 we are looking at serious issues of water stress….

So, water is really enormously important. I am going to get onto the climate change interactions with it a little bit later but water is the one area that I feel is seriously threatening. It is so important because a shortage of water obviously interacts with a shortage of food, there are real potentials for driving significant international problems — what do you do if you have no water and you have no food? You migrate. So one can have a reasonable expectation that international migration will occur as these shortages come in.

Now, the third one I want to focus on is energy and, driven by the population increase that I talked about, the urbanisation I talked about and indeed the movement out of poverty, the expectation is that primary energy demand is going to increase. This graph shows that last year, for the first time, the demand of the rest of the world exceeded the demand of energy of the OECD. The shading of green is the rest of the non-OECD and the orange shading is China and India, so you can see the enormous effect that’s actually having and you can see the way in which energy demand is actually increasing and going to hit something of the order of a 50% increase, again by 2030.

Now, if that were not enough… those are three things that are coming together. What will the world be like when that happens? But we also have, of course, the issue of climate change. Now, this is a very familiar slide to you all but we are shooting for a target of two degrees centigrade, a perfectly sensible target. There is enormous uncertainty in the climate change models about that particular target. It is perfectly reasonable to say ‘shouldn’t we be shooting for one degrees centigrade or, oddly enough, it is perfectly reasonable to say ‘shouldn’t we be shooting for three degrees centigrade’, the only information we have is really enormously uncertain in terms of the climate change model.

Shooting for two seems a perfectly sensible and legitimate objective but there are enormous problems. You are talking about serious problems in tropical glaciers — the Chinese government has recognised this and has actually announced about 10 days ago that it is going to build 59 new reservoirs to take the glacial melt in the Xinjiang province. 59 reservoirs. It is actually contemplating putting many of them underground. This is a recognition that water, which has hitherto been stored in glaciers, is going to be very scarce. We have to think about water in a major way.

But the climate change agenda is there and we have to think about it, but this is looking to me like it is getting worse….

I was at a conference yesterday on Arctic ice at the Royal Society. There was a paper presented there by Wang and Overland which indicated that by 2030, they were predicting, the Arctic was likely to be ice-free in the summer. This would have the most enormous impact on the climate change system, big, big serious issues there.

The other area that really worries me in terms of climate change and the potential for positive feedbacks and also for interactions with food is ocean acidification….

As I say, it’s as acid today as it has been for 25 million years. When this occurred some 25 million years ago, this level of acidification in the ocean, you had major problems with it, problems of extinctions of large numbers of species in the ocean community. The areas which are going to be hit most severely by this are the coral reefs of the world and that is already starting to show. Coral reefs provide significant protein supplies to about a billion people. So it is not just that you can’t go snorkelling and see lots of pretty fish, it is that there are a billion people dependent on coral reefs for a very substantial portion of their high protein diet.

So, this is cheerful stuff, isn’t it? What I have said, which I guess is why I have been talking to the media a bit, is I have coined the point that we have got to deal with increased demand for energy, increased demand for food, increased demand for water, and we’ve got to do that while mitigating and adapting to climate change. And we have but 21 years to do it….

I will leave you with some key questions. Can nine billion people be fed? Can we cope with the demands in the future on water? Can we provide enough energy? Can we do it, all that, while mitigating and adapting to climate change? And can we do all that in 21 years time? That’s when these things are going to start hitting in a really big way. We need to act now. We need investment in science and technology, and all the other ways of treating very seriously these major problems. 2030 is not very far away.

Some of this can be avoid or minimized if we act now. Some of it can’t. But if we don’t act strongly now, then by 2030 we will be in the midst of this “perfect storm” of catastrophes — and everyone in the world will know we face much, much worse probably for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.

That is the inflection point, “Planetary Purgatory” — and you’ll want to make sure you and your children have a sustainable job by then. What that might be will be the subject of any later post.

Climate science stars Holdren and Lubchenco confirmed — 7 to 9 months faster than Bush’s team

Newt Gingrichs voodoo cap-and-trade economics

31 Responses to Climate competitiveness 2: When the global Ponzi scheme collapses (circa 2030), the only jobs left will be green

  1. charlie says:

    I with we are taking the $400 billion in stimulus tax cuts and investing it in destroying non-North American oil. Not from a climate perspective, but from a financial perspective. Every dollar we ship out to South America, Africa and the Middle East disappears, and is being invested in their economies. (only partly true of South America). Canada and Mexico are more or less integrated into the dollar economy, so I’m not counting them.

    It is about 8 million barrels a day, or $400 million dollars a day draining from out economy. That is what — about 1.5 trillion a year? Replace that money in the US and we are well on our way to recovery.

    We take $500 billion in stimulus, cut out the oil, and that money will circulate back into our economy. Don’t want a gas tax? Then pay me NOT to drive. $500 billion is about $1500 per American. Offer me that to cut my driving to less than 2000 miles a year, and I’ll take it.

  2. Harrier says:

    See, all of this is why I tend to think we’re not going to reach the ‘business as usual’ worst case scenario. That trajectory of emissions implies that the society that allows those emissions is going to stay in place. It’s not. Events will force it to change, or will blow it apart. And those events seem like they’ll happen much sooner than 2100 or even 2050.

  3. charlie says:

    joe, sorry, not thread hijacking here, I just wish the comments had an edit feature.

    Germany (and now the UK) are looking for clunkers-for-cash schemes. $3000 credit for an old wreck. It is OK for car companies but obviously a lot of the money will go to foreign sources.

    Again, offer me $1500 cash (or a $3000 tax credit), NOT to drive this year. That money will be invested back into the economy. OK, I MIGHT buy a new TV with that and they money will go to China/Japan/Korea. But most of the money will be recycled or used to pay down debt.

  4. JeffFa says:

    A general question about population projections: do they take into account an estimate for the negative feedback associated with the population increase itself (e.g. food shortages leading to starvation or, at the very least, decreased fertility or population decreases due to wars over arable land, water, etc.)?

  5. DB says:

    “It is about 8 million barrels a day, or $400 million dollars a day draining from out economy. That is what — about 1.5 trillion a year? Replace that money in the US and we are well on our way to recovery.”

    I believe it works out to $0.15 trillion.

  6. DB says:

    “You are talking about serious problems in tropical glaciers — the Chinese government has recognised this and has actually announced about 10 days ago that it is going to build 59 new reservoirs to take the glacial melt in the Xinjiang province. 59 reservoirs. It is actually contemplating putting many of them underground. This is a recognition that water, which has hitherto been stored in glaciers, is going to be very scarce.”

    IIRC, glacial melt makes only about 10% of the water flow in south Asia and China. The monsoons will still happen every year and a warmer world will be a more humid world and snow will still fall in vast amounts on the Himalayas.

  7. Jim Bullis says:

    If people that understand thermodynamics don’t start raising a big fuss, the green work in 2030 will be to convert Hummers and SUVs to electric plug-in operation. Battery technology will probably get better so the US population will scratch its collective head (or whatever) trying to understand why everything is going to, well, heck. Maybe by that time there will be a few people around who pay attention in freshman physics class.


    It was encouraging to see Pres. Obama’s enthusiasm for changing the motivation for future career choices away from the financial world in favor of “engineering, science, teachers, and doctors in his appearance with Jay Leno. Moving the discussion to the going forward mode seems like something we should be happy to see him do.

    But Help *&^%$#* There is a looming disaster, not to mention a national embarrassment in the stampede to plug-in electric cars which Pres. Obama seems to think is a good thing.

    This proves the need for engineers and scientists, none of whom should be unaware that heat energy does not equal electric energy. It depends on which way the conversion is done. If you make heat from electricity then heat energy does convert to electric energy and the equality holds; but if you try to make electric energy from heat you get very much less of that electric energy.

    Who cares? Well, everyone who thinks there is a global warming problem should care. Most people have figured that electric cars simply shift the pollution source to someplace over the hill, and that zero emissions is absolute &^%$#$%. But the next part of the problem seems to need a little more knowledge of basic physics; that is, it takes a lot more heat energy to make electric energy than you get out in electric energy. It is easy to understand that since half of the electric power comes from burning coal, and coal produces a lot more CO2 than any other fuel for making the same amount of heat, maybe there is something very wrong happening here.

    Sure, the combination of coal power, electric power distribution, battery losses, and electric motor losses could come out a little better than the old internal combustion engine, which might only get 20% efficiency from its traditional design. But wait, the Prius engine in that hybrid configuration was measured to get 38% efficiency (Argonne National Laboratory data). In the end, making this into a plug-in is a very bad idea.

    The problem is much broader. The car companies are making plans to convert their existing vehicles to plug-in operation. Others of influence are working in this direction; Andy Grove, ex CEO
    of Intel and James Woolsey, ex CIA Director for example.

    Unfortunately, Jay Leno seems to not understand such things and consequently Pres. Obama came away seriously misled.

    Surely there are many readers of ClimateProgress who understand that we will not be very successful at solving our problems if we proceed on the basis of flawed understanding of fundamental physics.

    The arguments about coal can rage on but we will not come close to getting the right answers if it is not widely understand that heat energy does not convert to electric energy without a huge heat engine loss, whether it is in a car engine or central electric power plant.

    Clearly it is going to take a lot more people yelling about this than just me.

    [JR: Fortunately Obama and his team understand thermodynamics and the climate problem. The key transition is to electric drive vehicles because making carbon free electricity is considerably easier than making a carbon free liquid fuel (or for that matter carbon free hydrogen) and transporting it. So the good thing to know, which Jim seemed strangely unaware of as a regular reader, is that team Obama is working to stop the vast majority of new coal plants and accelerate the production of renewable energy. And, of course, once their is a cap on carbon, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles are a climate policy analyst's dream come true.]

  8. Truly a sobering prospect. America could provide the solution, but won’t, and no other country appears capable.

    America needs innovation to solve these problems, but there is a very unfriendly environment due to the lock big business has on Congress. Our innovation infrastructure is crippled to protect industry giants from disruptive technology. A good example is the endless reviews of patent validity, and allowing companies with 499 employees to compete for federal grant money intended to foster small business.

    Now the groundwater is exhausted, rain doesn’t come like it used to, and growth has stalled. Is it reasonable to expect China and India to give up coal power and cut their economic growth so that Americans can put golf courses in the desert, watered by reverse osmosis desalination (a huge energy suck and CO2 source)? Should they be content with rice when Americans eat steak?

    Water is already scarce in California, Australia, and Europe, and thermal power plants consume (in evaporative cooling) almost as much water as agriculture. So what’s the plan? More study? String theory? Rain dance?

  9. paulm says:

    Green jobs – were talking Mad Max scenarios within 20-30yrs time. Its going to be survival – failed states everywhere. Tribal and community based systems will start replacing nation states. Will America raid Canada for its resources?

  10. ecostew says:

    Numbers from one analysis:

    PEV net efficiency 28%; ICE net efficiency 14%

  11. Jim Bullis says:

    Are there any engineers or physicists out there? The silence is deafening.

  12. ecostew says:

    Numbers from another analysis based on energy returned on energy invested:

    EROEI wind PEV 76.3% combined efficiency; EROEI gasoline ICE 34.8% combined efficiency; EROEI temperate bio-ethanol 12.5% combined efficiency

  13. Jim Bullis says:

    Re ecostew

    Look at page 9 of:

    Testing and Analysis of Three Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles 2007-01-0283
    Richard “Barney” Carlson, Michael Duoba, Theodore Bohn, Anantray D. Vyas
    Argonne National Laboratory

    The 38% number for efficiency of the Production Prius comes from measurement in this study, though the report is intent on promoting the false claims of the Plug-In cars, so it does not get headlined.

    [JR: Yes, the Prius is indeed the most efficient and best design hybrid in the world. That's why I own one. But it still runs on gasoline. The future is a plug-in Prius running on low carbon electricity, if you want to significantly drop vehicular emissions over time.

    But ecostew's bigger point is correct -- you can't compare the Prius tank to wheel with other engine's well to wheel. Try again, Jim.]

  14. Jim Bullis says:

    Since the paper I referenced is hard to find I put a fixed link through my site page addressed as below:


    Click on reference (5) and look at page 9 for the 38% efficiency data.

  15. James Newberry says:

    Holy smoke, Mad Max is not inevitable. Lets try a tad more confidence, even in the face of massive challenges.

    We have got to get the global fuels industries, their entrenched business supporters and the international bank holding companies which finance the multi-trillion dollar world fuel infrastructure out of the taxpayers’ pockets. They have been raiding the US and world treasuries (of trillions of dollars) for decades. Maybe we should nationalize the banks which own electric plants based on fossil and fissile fuels and phase them out by federal law! Then direct future investments to life affirming technologies.

    The quest for change is primarily a political challenge. Stop the corruption of democracy, set the rudder for “green” and the American people can innovate and create again, even after the tragedy of what the GOP, and the congress in general, has become. Meanwhile, we are being left in the dust in comparison to foreign high speed rail and dozens of other benefits.

  16. lgcarey says:

    James said – “Holy smoke, Mad Max is not inevitable. Lets try a tad more confidence, even in the face of massive challenges. ” I agree – these are huge challenges, but I’m a lot less fearful of the effects of trying to fix this mess than I am of the effects of giving up on fixing it. However, we have to start now – events don’t allow us the luxury of another five or ten years of debate over whether decarbonization is a good idea or not.

  17. Jim Bullis says:


    You mistake strong disagreement for “unaware.”

    Only when the last US coal plant is salvaged will it be true that the plug-in car will not be fueled by burning of coal.

    [JR: That assertion is so factually wrong as to qualify as disinformation. You are trying my patience. If coal use merely stays flat when PHEVs take off, that would mean PHEVs were fueled by low-carbon sources. Please stop wasting the time of CP readers.]

    The only exception would be if coal usage was taxed sufficiently, by whatever mechanism, to make the price of natural gas competitive. At this time that tax would be about $3 to $4 per million BTU worth of coal. Immediately, the price of electricity would at least double, but then we would need to anticipate that the effect of that would be a huge increase in demand for natural gas, and much as we might love him as a friend, Boone Pickens is not going to make his natural gas available at half price, or whatever it soars to under such a surge in demand. Neither is Putin nor the Iran guy going to send us enough LNG to make the thing work.

    Then the economy has to be figured into the situation. Do you really think there is a few extra trillion dollars lying around to put enough sustainable systems on line? Again, I submit that whatever the balance, if there is any lingering option to use coal at a cheap price, that will be the basis for a response to each and every plug-in.

    But regarding the call to “try again” on the Prius, there is a need only to reasonably compare heat source to wheel to heat source to wheel. Maybe you could throw in 10% or 20% against the gasoline side to pay for shipping and refining above that which would be required for natural gas.

    I think the bigger point is that adding electric motors and batteries to the existing line of Detroit products will perpetuate the worst waste of energy known to man, give or take 10%. Jay Leno would probably think this was a green thing. It did not sound like Pres. Obama had it quite right either. Did you watch him on Jay Leno last night?

  18. Jim Bullis says:

    Re James Newberry,

    I am not sure, but you might have been referring to the Miastrada car as “Mad Max”. I kind of like that name; I add it to psychedelic and psychopathic.

    But forget about my ideas of solving the problem for a minute.
    The important thing is to work out solutions based on sound principles.

    But apparently there is not going to be enough resolve in finding solutions as long as there are optimistic hopes for magical changes that require no adjustment at all. Presumably “somebody else” is going to pay the cost through taxes. I guess it is going to be power companies or coal companies. Oops, but maybe that will somehow trickle through to ordinary slobs like me.

  19. Ronald says:

    Jim Bullis,

    What you described is part of the whole reason for the smart grid. What’s hoped for is to attach renewable, non-depletable, non-exhaustable, non-carbon polluting wind or other renewable energy.

    Wind blows mostly at night and then the plug-in vehicles can be recharged at night. This topic has been handled in other web articles on this website and others.

  20. David B. Benson says:

    DB — My understanding is that the Chinese are going to build 29 dams to replace the glaciers in regulating water flow.

  21. Pangolin says:

    Did I just read something different than everybody else? The gist of what I read was that food, water, and energy resources are going to be negatively impacted by resource destruction trends while the world population climbs.

    Since even in California getting food, water and energy to the same spot for end users isn’t a 100% occurance I suspect the situation in other bits of the world is going to get extremely bad in rapid jolts. Large numbers of people are going to find themselves short of critical resources due to seemingly minor changes in global temperature or resource availability.

    Population growth is not written into the laws of physics any more than real estate prices are guaranteed to go up. A week without clean water and people can find themselves very dead. A few months on low rations and a minor scrape can turn into a raging infection. People are going to die in the next twenty years in job lots. The resource flows that provide food now are threatened. I don’t see any solid efforts to prop up fundamental flaws in energy dynamics.

  22. Agaguk says:

    About CH4 we are runing out of it in north-america and soon we will also pass is worldwide peak (more quickly if we rush on it). There is no escape way for this civilisation no strageme can save her now it’s to late of some 30 years. She is GAME OVER all hands, brace for impact! By the way as she trashed all the resources aviable for peoples without an huge thermo-industrial toolkit she will be the last one. We will have to face the climatic apocalyps with a stone age toolkit. Thank you Mr Progress!

  23. paulm says:

    A significant component of the ‘perfect storm’ is of course technology itself.

    As advance tech makes it easier for individuals and small groups to apply components which can cause mass destruction, such as viral, germ, nano, nuclear etc, we will find that if ignorance and nature don’t get us we will.

  24. dougo says:

    The success of “green jobs” depends on an effective regulatory environment that can internalize externalities. If the economic system collapses beyond some critical point, the regulatory environmental will collapse along with it, and unsustainable resource use will proceed without regard to consequences because no ‘authorities’ will exist to enforce the law. In summary, don’t hope for collapse because it cold return us to a world that is “nasty, brutish, and short.’

  25. Harrier says:

    It occurs to me that the collapse wouldn’t necessarily be uniform, which seems to be an underlying point in Joe’s post. Any country that has diversified its energy sources, or begins to diversify them now, might have a chance at staying coherent. It might also help if the country has a smaller population, or at least a small amount of people per square mile/kilometer of land.

    The states that meet both of these criteria could wind up in positions of strength when the global Ponzi scheme tumbles down. They could rule as technocratic superpowers over a suddenly-medieval world.

    It’s almost like the plot of a science fiction novel. If only we didn’t face the prospect of living through it.

  26. Agaguk says:

    I agree with you Harrier that collapse will not be uniform, some region will be hit harder than other and more quickly than other. California is already experiencing drought for few years now and probably for years to come like somme part of australia. So region like California will collapse by water scarcity before other region like Maine or like Ontario in Canada. I agree also about density of population this will be an important factor. But when we will reach some 4 or 5 °C of shift in the temperature curve every body will be ‘doomed’ at some point. I fear…

    One big problem remain agriculture with the climatic disaster she can’t survive as she need relatively stables and predictables conditions to work. I think all country will collapse quickly when things will start to disrupt badly. Even without climate agriculture is in big troubles with the decline of oil and natural gaz. We are in deep sh*t!

  27. David B. Benson says:

    Better start learning how to farm.

  28. paulm says:

    You can see the pressure on states like Mexico. Lawlessness will rise and gangs will start to run large regions. For large cities this will become an acute problem with the breakdown of food and water supplies.

    If North America thought that it was going to get out of this relatively intact then that is delusional.

  29. Sasparilla says:

    These conditions that Prof Beddington has started to detail here, briefly, are rarely detailed out so the public can get its arms around what a fix we’re making for ourselves.

    There is a fantastic audio production (3 parts) by the CBC (canadian) where the an author details what he has found over the last year and a half interviewing climate scientists and military planners, regarding global climate change, from all over the world – i.e. it takes these kinds of details from Prof Beddington and then says, what would be the kinds of expected geopolitical effects we might see? Its an extremely good listen:


    The author’s (Gwynne Dyer) book (Climate Wars), whose title refers to expected fallout of the effects of global warming, is an even better read – the author gets 2008 year level interviews with the climate scientists and looks at their latest thoughts and then uses the talks with military analysts (US and Europe) to give possible realistic scenarios at different points in time (short, medium and long term based on expected climate change effects) – best climate book I’ve read in more than a year as the information is so relevant to things we could expect to see relatively soon (and not covered in most other books).

  30. Check out this great video from Dr.Vandana Shiva


    This will show you what everyone can do, easily, and in your own backyard…

  31. espiritwater says:

    “I will leave you with some key questions. Can nine billion people be fed? Can we cope with the demands in the future on water? Can we provide enough energy? Can we do it, all that, while mitigating and adapting to climate change? And can we do all that in 21 years time? That’s when these things are going to start hitting in a really big way. We need to act now. We need investment in science and technology, and all the other ways of treating very seriously these major problems. 2030 is not very far away.”

    …or simply stop eating meat (Outlaw raising animals for human consumption)… resulting in a lot more available land for growing crops (vegetarian food), more water (wouldn’t have to share it with all the animules ) And about 50% less GHG emissions (methane from cows). Simple.