Veterans Day, 2030

The three worst direct impacts to humans from our unsustainable use of energy will, I think, be Dust-Bowlification and sea level rise and ocean poisoning:  Hell and High Water.  But another impact “” far more difficult to project quantitatively because there is no paleoclimate analog “” may well affect far more people both directly and indirectly: war, conflict, competition for arable and/or habitable land.

We will have to work as hard as possible to make sure we don’t leave a world of wars to our children. That means avoiding decades if not centuries of strife and conflict from catastrophic climate change. That also means finally ending our addiction to oil, a source “” if not the source “” of two of our biggest recent wars. As the NYT reported last year:

The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

That’s a key reason 33 generals and admirals supported the comprehensive climate and clean energy jobs bill this year, asserting “Climate change is making the world a more dangerous place” and “threatening America’s security.”  The Pentagon itself has made the climate/security link explicit in its Quadrennial Defense Review.

Sadly, the chance that humanity will avert catastrophic climate impacts has dropped  sharply this year (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).  And that means it is increasingly likely we face a world beyond 450 ppm atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, which in turn means we likely cross carbon cycle tipping points that threaten to quickly take us to 800 to 1000 ppm.

It is a world not merely of endless regional resource wars around the globe. It is a world with dozens of Darfurs and Pakistani mega-floods, of countless environmental refugees “” hundreds of millions by the second half of this century “” all clamoring to occupy the parts of the developed world that aren’t flooded or desertified.

In such a world, everyone will ultimately become a veteran, and Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day may fade into obscurity, as people forget about a time when wars were the exception, a time when soldiers were but a small minority of the population.  And if we don’t act swiftly and strongly to stop it, the worst impacts could last a long, long time (see NOAA stunner: Climate change “largely irreversible for 1000 years,” with permanent Dust Bowls in Southwest and around the globe and Nature Geoscience: ocean dead zones “devoid of fish and seafood” are poised to expand and “remain for thousands of years”).

So when does this start to happen?

Thomas Fingar, “the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst,” sees it happening by the mid-2020s:

By 2025, droughts, food shortages and scarcity of fresh water will plague large swaths of the globe, from northern China to the Horn of Africa.

For poorer countries, climate change “could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back,” Fingar said, while the United States will face “Dust Bowl” conditions in the parched Southwest“¦.

He said U.S. intelligence agencies accepted the consensual scientific view of global warming, including the conclusion that it is too late to avert significant disruption over the next two decades. The conclusions are in line with an intelligence assessment produced this summer that characterized global warming as a serious security threat for the coming decades.

Floods and droughts will trigger mass migrations and political upheaval in many parts of the developing world.

For the latest literature review and projections, see “Must-read NCAR analysis warns we risk multiple, devastating global droughts even on moderate emissions path,” the source of this figure, where “A reading of -4 or below is considered extreme drought”:

drought map 2 2030-2039

The National Center for Atmospheric Research, “Climate change: Drought may threaten much of globe within decades,” explains the implications of such low readings of the Palmer Drought Severity Index [PDSI]:

By the 2030s, the results indicated that some regions in the United States and overseas could experience particularly severe conditions, with average decadal readings potentially dropping to -4 to -6 in much of the central and western United States as well as several regions overseas, and -8 or lower in parts of the Mediterranean. By the end of the century, many populated areas, including parts of the United States, could face readings in the range of -8 to -10, and much of the Mediterranean could fall to -15 to -20. Such readings would be almost unprecedented.

The PDSI in the Great Plains during the Dust Bowl apparently spiked very briefly to -6, but otherwise rarely exceeded -3 for the decade (see here).

And, of course, we’ve seen that even in areas expected to become wetter, can experience an extreme heat wave so unprecedented that it forces the entire country to suspend grain exports:

Significantly, the UK government’s chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out a scenario similar to Fingar’s in a 2009 speech 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. Here are some excerpts:

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”¦.

“¦ you are going to see major changes but particularly in the demand for livestock “” meat and dairy“¦.

“¦ 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”¦. 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.

“¦ 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.

“¦. where there is genuine water stress [in 2025 is] 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”¦. For the first time, the demand of the rest of the world exceeded the demand of energy of the OECD”¦.. 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”¦.

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.

“¦ 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 Veterans Day 2030, many of the global conflicts will either be resource wars or wars driven by environmental degradation and dislocation (see “Warming Will Worsen Water Wars). Indeed that may already have started to happen (see “Report: Climate Change and Environmental Degradation Trigger Darfur Crisis).

For one discussion of the kind of wars we might be seeing, albeit for the year 2046, here is a three-part radio series on Climate Wars.

For all of the above reasons, veterans and security experts and politicians of all parties have begun working together to avoid the worst.   A key leader on climate and energy security has been the conservative Virgina Republican, John Warner, who pushed hard to pass the clean energy bill “” because he is a former Navy secretary and former Senate Armed Services Committee chair and because he is a former Forest Service firefighter now “just absolutely heartbroken” because “the old forest, the white pine forest in which I worked, was absolutely gone, devastated, standing there dead from the bark beetle” thanks in large part to global warming.

Warner’s is trying to build grass-roots support for congressional action to limit global warming,” as Politics Daily reported. “He is traveling the country to discuss military research that shows climate change is a threat to U.S. national security.” Here is part of PD‘s interview:

PD: Does the responsibility fall to us to respond to the consequences of climate change?
JW: Not exclusively, but we’re often in the forefront of response to these things. We’re the nation with the most sealift. The most airlift. We have more medical teams which are mobile, more storehouses of food and supplies to meet emergencies. And throughout our history, from the beginning of the republic, America’s always had to respond to certain humanitarian disasters.
PD: What are some examples of destabilization due to climate?
JW: One clear case of it is Somalia. [In the early 1990s] the prolonged drought began to tie up the economy, the food supplies. There was a certain amount of political and economic instability. Where you have fragile nations . . . a serious climactic problem will come along, with a shortage of food or water, and often those governments are toppled. And then they fall to the evils of . . . terrorism or others who try to exploit these fallen governments. You saw it in Darfur. You saw it in Somalia. This political instability and weakness is given the final tilt by a problem associated with climactic change.

Our choice today is clear. We can continue listening to the voices of denial and delay, assuring that everyone ultimately becomes a veteran of the growing number of climate-related conflicts.

Or we can launch a WWII-scale effort and a WWII-style effort to address the problem as Hansen and I and many others have called for. That is our most necessary fight today.

This post is an update.

Related Posts:

28 Responses to Veterans Day, 2030

  1. shannon says:

    Right now, in TN, drought years alternate with very wet years. Is it possible that this will continue for decades, or is this pattern likely to be replaced by just continuous drought?

  2. Bob Lang says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the problem with mounting a WWII-style effort that the US no longer has an industrial base and skilled labor force as it did in 1941.

    The only non-Asian country which still has an industrial base is Germany.

  3. Mimikatz says:

    John Warner really ought to start with the GOPers in Congress. If they will listen to anyone, I expect it would be military people. Another tack is to stress regional impacts. Do people in Kansas realize that under high temperatures corn won’t fertilize?

    BTW, this post suggests that the US experience with drought will be very influenced by the El Nino Southern Oscillation. It’s unclear whether global warming increases El Nino. He has a whole series on some of the info coming out on future droughts. Basically, it isn’t pretty.

  4. Gord says:

    I still can’t get past 2080 when playing “Fate of the World”, the computer game simulation of global warming. I had enough money this last time but the Human Development Index tanked. Wars broke out as food shortages and other miseries galvanized people to eliminate competitors or move into areas formerly held by others.

    “Fate of the World” is just a game, albeit a highly instructive game.

    The brutal truth is, in the real world, desperate people will do desperate things to survive.

    Ongoing conflict, in perpetuity, lurks on the underside of the sustainability coin.

  5. Robert H says:

    Puck said it best: “What fools these mortals be!”

    My children, ages 34 and 32, both decided against having children. Though on many levels I am saddened by their decisions I believe that were I in their position I would, out of compassion and reason, have to make the same bitter choice.

  6. Wonhyo says:

    In this post, I see references to “will happen by” years of 2025 and 2030. My rule of thumb adjustment is to take the time remaining to the published prediction, divide by two, then consider this an upper limit on the time remaining to the catastrophe in question.

    From year 2010, it’s 15-20 years to 2025-2030. Cutting those numbers in half you get 7-10 years. All the catastrophes predicted above are likely to occur by 2017-2020, at the latest.

  7. John McCormick says:

    Joe, the link to the three part series on Climate Wars by Gwynne Dyer
    did not work for me. However, I have listened to the series and bookmarked the address.

    The link is as follows and I highly recommend it to all CP visitors.

    John McCormick

  8. Some European says:

    @Robert H
    I’m 25. My girlfriend and I have put our plans for children on hold. Until we see meaningful change. We consider the odds extremely low.
    I can assure you it’s a heartbreaking choice.
    I don’t know what to tell my sister. I haven’t exactly warned her yet, explicitly, but she can read my mind.
    It’s so sad.
    I wish we could just have a carefree life like your generation has had.

  9. Dave E says:

    Robert H
    It is indeed a sad decision to be making, made even sadder by the fact that the people who are making any sort of action difficult or impossible are not making such a decision, and many are in fact fundamentally opposed to family planning (Sarah Palin being a particularly obvious example).

  10. Michael Tucker says:

    Short of a WWII scale/type effort it seems clear that we will suffer as you have described. Given the fear that many have, even some progressives, that even a modest effort to control GHG emissions would wreak the economy, I doubt we will see a large scale mobilization. It is fascinating that we are willing to trade a little short term economic discomfort for the extreme consequences that result from inaction.

    We must face the fact that when a climate bill is passed it will not be a WWII scale effort. It will not even be considered a ‘very strong mitigation effort.’ This will still result in disaster as I understand it. I am reminded of what you have written:

    “What is less well understood is that even a very strong mitigation effort that kept carbon emissions this century to 11 GtC a year on average would still probably take us to 1000 ppm — a little noted conclusion of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

    So, short of a WWII scale effort, we have no good news to offer those who are not yet committed to even taking a more modest approach. This will make it even more difficult to win votes.

    Oh, I’m sorry, but I must comment about the wonderful past time in American life when “wars were the exception.” That must have been back in the 20th century because we have two wars going right now…Oh wait we had two wars, only a generation apart that were so destructive and wide spread they were call World Wars; you must have meant the peaceful 19th century…er, sorry, 18th? No, lets try 17th…Oh I give up. America, born in blood, maintained by blood! The only difference might be that the current and future wars will not be for ideology or freedom or empire, they will be for resources like water and cropland; kind of like returning to our ancient roots.

  11. Mike Roddy says:

    Military men are aware that the biggest driver of conflict is competition for resources, especially farmland. This was the case in the tribal machete attacks in Rwanda, as well as WWI-II Europe and recent events in Bosnia.

    National boundaries will begin to fall apart in a few decades, especially since many were arbitrary colonial boundaries in the first place. The US will face desperate immigration from all sides.

    It will be the conservatives’ worst nightmare, because not only will there be a flood of immigrants, but heavy taxation and a powerful central government will be required to resist them. They’re too busy to think about that, though, since The Rapture is coming and Glenn Beck is on their flat screens.

  12. Gator says:

    Hey Mike! A warming planet with more CO2 means more food production, not less (basic science). Unless of course the alarmists continue to burn food wholesale. The only starvation issues we have now are as a result of corrupt third world goverments and bio-fuels.

  13. Mike#22 says:

    Hey Gator, corn and soybeans don’t grow so good at the equator, where it is WARMER. CO2 fertilization for crops is wishful thinking; CO2 fertilization for weeds is reality.

  14. Jeff Huggins says:

    Another Consideration

    As is sometimes the case, I haven’t read the entire post. But, oftentimes when people discuss the human dynamics of the future, and possible conflicts among societies and among different groups in a society, they overlook something important, which is this:

    IF we don’t address climate change, and if the scientists are correct (that it’s real, and will have the natural consequences expected), as they almost certainly are, then we can be SURE that there WILL be immense conflicts, partly because of this:

    I (and growing numbers of people) will not be sitting around in status-quo land, “obedient” to a fault, happily voting and minding our business, IF the United States and “our” companies create harms to ourselves and around the world, and to other generations, and to other species. So, we need not “only” wonder if Country X will have tensions with Country Z far away, or even near at hand. We need to consider that there will be growing conflict WITHIN America AMONG Americans, between those who want to be responsible and who respect science and fact, and (on the other hand) those people who would continue to ignore the science and act selfishly and irresponsibly. And usually, when it comes down to that, the people who have the facts on their side, and who genuinely understand that they do, work and “fight” harder, and ultimately prevail.

    In my view, the streets should already be filled with young people (in civil and responsible ways, of course) demanding that we attend to the problem. Already. And I believe that that will begin to happen, in the not-too-distant future, if things do not change in positive directions.

    That’s my two cents worth for today.

    (And of course, I hope we get our act together and that it doesn’t come down to all the things discussed in the post and here in my comment. That’s why I’m here: trying to use “reason” in order to avoid what eventually happens when reason is ignored.)



  15. Roger Wehage says:

    Great article, but what good is half a model? What role will Peak Oil play in this scenario? At least one of the 31 Peak Oil posts on this website could have been mentioned.

  16. BB says:

    What’s the deal with the large hot/cold couplet in Antarctica south of Argentina? It seems to show up as such on all the maps from the various years. I wonder what situation can create that result across multiple months and years.

  17. Sailesh Rao says:

    All these projections assume that human beings continue to act as they have been doing regardless of the consequences. Therefore, the battle is really over the hearts and minds of human beings.

    On the one side are the Dominating Earth-is-my-Bitch Types (DEBT), the ones who consider Nature to be just a vast resource pool for their exploitation. Large multi-national corporations such as ExxonMobil, BP, Koch, Rio-Tinto, Peabody, Massey Energy, McDonalds, Coke, Pepsi, Monsanto and Cargill lead the DEBT group. They depend on a compliant, unthinking, unfeeling public to work their butts off, collect wealth and funnel it back to them so that they can amass it.

    On the other side are the Nurturing Earth-is-our-Mother Types (NEMT), the ones who consider Nature to be worth healing from the wounds that we have inflicted from our past exploitations. Grassroots activists such as Ingrid Newkirk, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Dr. Vandana Shiva and Pres. Evo Morales of Bolivia lead the NEMT group. They depend on an awakened, thinking, feeling public to reject the products of violence and destruction that is being marketed by the DEBT group and vote with their wallets accordingly.

    While the DEBT group has control over the television airwaves, the US government and the halls of power in most countries, the NEMT group has much better organizing capabilities in the internet world. Therefore, I, for one, am absolutely unwilling to concede the battle to the DEBT group and project them the winners for the next 20 years.

    Let’s support a NonViolent Direct Action against Violence and let’s see what happens. Do these too-big-to-fail multinational corporations, who have turned capitalism into a perverted form of “Bailout” capitalism, really have such a lock on the outcome?

  18. Sasparilla says:

    Excellent article Joe.

    Thanks for the updated link (that isn’t working in the article) John (#7). The 3 part audio series is excellent – highly recommended.

    The book that it is based on is even better:

  19. Gator says:

    Hey Sailesh! Your world view is incredibly narrow and wrong. I do not fit into either of your cubby holes. I am an environmentalist who probably does more to protect and preserve nature than most of the people who post on this site. I just happen to know AGW is a myth.

    As for who controls the airwaves, I do not know which cable service to which you subscribe, but the planet on which I live has cable service that promotes channels who have things like “Green Week”. I have yet to see any network have a “skeptic week”.

    I was a climatology student three decades ago and the eco-scare of the day was “desertification” (see Romm, “dustbowlification”, sounds like a “bush-ism”). I wrote a term paper on tbe myth du jour and agreed with the alarmists, because there was “consensus”. Every government and university study of the day said our deserts would keep expanding unless we spent hundreds of billions of dollars. They all agreed that there would be starvation, followed by riots and warfare (sound familiar?). Of course none of the dire predictions came true, and not because we spent our national treasure, but because once again the alarmists were wrong. I am embarrassed to this day that I was fooled by those charlatans. But that is because I am adult enough to admit I was wrong.

    Please submit proof of man mad CO2 altering climate.

  20. L. Carey says:

    Gator, your reasoning omits several salient elements:
    (1) The basic staples of global food production are grains (corn, rice and wheat) and soybeans – all of which are susceptible to declining yields as temperatures rise. (Although poison ivy and many weeds do much better in that regime.)
    (2) A key problem is that plants only benefit to a limited extent from greater CO2, and that any such small benefits are quickly outweighed by higher temperatures and decreased precipitation projected to result in many current growing areas. In fact, recent research indicates that global NPP is not increasing (as it did in previous decades) and may now be decreasing.
    (3) The world’s breadbaskets are located in the middle latitudes (the Great Plains, the Canadian prairie, Ukraine, etc.) Under higher CO2 scenarios, those areas mostly become warmer and much drier over time, even possibly returning to the desert conditions of the past. (Ever heard of the Sand Hills of Nebraska? Or how about the Dust Bowl?)
    (4) The land areas subject to warming at high latitudes are mostly unsuitable for intensive agriculture – largely tundra or shallow soil over glaciated bedrock. They do not offer anything like a suitable replacement for the productive mid-latitude breadbaskets that are likely to be lost or greatly impaired.

  21. Robert H says:

    Some European @8
    I wish I’d had that carefree life as well. I became (precociously) politically aware during the early 50s. As a child I had to cope with McCarthyism and the Korean War. That morphed into the struggle for Civil Rights, the Cold War (every Wednesday at noon the air raid sirens would blow, reminding me of the imminence of nuclear annihilation), VietNam, the assassination of several men of vision, Nixon, Reagan, the plundering of the planet (CO2s connection to global warming was openly discussed in the 50s, Silent Spring came out in ’62, The Population Bomb in ’68), on up to the disasters of the present day. The only people for whom that period was carefree were the oblivious and the ones who had drunk the propaganda mills’ kool-aid.

    If there was a difference in outlook between now and then it would be that we believed time was on our side, that we would outlast our enemies or, if need be, that we could return to a simpler way of life, return to the land, more-or-less ignore them and let them destroy themselves. In other words, my generation was optimistic (and with reason) about the future. Only a fool (Reagan’s “It’s morning in America” for instance) would be optimistic today. One of the reasons why things are so desperate is that there are so many fools out there. Yours will be, must be, a heroic generation. Your task is to resolve the true cost of two hundred years of greed and stupidity bequeathed you by your (my generation included) ancestors. What’s at stake is our indescribably beautiful planet, all who live upon it, and the right of young couples to choose whether or not to have children free of the fear of bringing them into a world so terribly wounded by our ruthless and all too willful ignorance.

  22. Chris Winter says:

    L. Carey put it very well, but let me chime in.

    Gator wrote (#12): “A warming planet with more CO2 means more food production, not less (basic science).”

    Not exactly. Plant growth is determined by whatever is most limited of the things they need: water, CO2, nitrogen, etc. Water may be most important. If today’s good farmland is hit by drought, setting up farms in new places means high costs to relocate the people, tractors and other machinery, fertilizer supplies and more.

    Land quality is also important. Many think warming will push agriculture northward. But much of the land there was scoured by glaciers during the last ice age. The soils are poor.

    Finally, both more CO2 and higher temperatures will reduce the productivity of many crops. Weeds, however, often do very well. Poison ivy is one example. So it’s more complicated than you think.

    “Unless of course the alarmists continue to burn food wholesale. The only starvation issues we have now are as a result of corrupt third world governments and bio-fuels.”

    Except for Bangladesh, where sea water is making 3 million hectares unsuitable for farming. Sea water intrusion is a growing problem the world over.

    The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity
    Click on the number “4” to see references.

  23. Chris Winter says:

    Gator wrote (#17): “The Earth has never had greater diversity than when it was warm, in fact warmer than today. You need to study history and stop listening to deluded people like Joe Romm.”

    I’m not sure that’s true. Certainly life was more fecund back then, but more diverse? It’s hard to say whether there were more species than today.

    We do know that one species was not around: us. And since we’re most concerned with staying around through this current warming period, as a species and as a civilization, it makes sense to find out which warnings are credible rather than dismissing them because they make us uncomfortable.

  24. Prokaryotes says:

    Gord says “The brutal truth is, in the real world, desperate people will do desperate things to survive.”

    The under reported psychological impacts from altered atmosphere chemistry and prospected environmental conditions might drive human extinction, long before people run out of supplies or hit by destructive weather phenomenon. Of course many humans will encounter even as we speak resource scarceness, lack of food and drinking water.

    But you will have much lesser so called threats which will take a huge toll. For example the mold from each flood is a potential silent killer.

  25. Prokaryotes says:

    Mold: The post-flooding health hazard
    Long after flood waters recede, a new threat can arise.

    According to Jamey Robinson, Mahaska County Emergency Management coordinator, the likelihood of potentially deadly mold exists in any flood-damaged property.

    “I personally had to cut out some of the drywall in my basement,” said Robinson. “I’d say most every house that was flooded has mold.”

  26. David B. Benson says:

    Just have to put back the carbon when we are done with it.

    New solar-powered process removes CO2 from the air and stores it as solid carbon

  27. Roger Wehage says:

    Why do all these discussions omit Peak Oil, or more specifically Peak Everything? Business as usual assumes continually increasing easy energy and resource flows. That’s not going to happen. The world’s reserves of oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium are limited and will become more difficult and expensive to obtain as time progresses. Most of the food we eat and the products we consume are heavily dependent on continued increases in fossil fuel consumption, which is going to drive up demand and prices. The world is also extracting nonrenewable raw materials for manufacturing at unprecetented accelerating rates. Unless the world develops procedures and processes to recover and recycle nonrenewable resources, they will also become more difficult and expensive to obtain as time progresses.

    These factors must be included in any model that makes long term projections.

  28. Roger Wehage says:

    Scaling up the STEP process pointed out by David @26 to convert CO2 to C on a magnitude needed to impact world CO2 levels would likely take decades and be too expensive to implement. But only time will tell.