In the last few years we have been shocked to see it unfold faster than predicted. Almost daily there are palpable indications and new science studies on the increasing rate-of-change. We had better pay attention closely. The inevitable sea level rise, drought, floods, biological disruption, species extinctions, and heatwaves that will lead to social disruptions and conflicts over diminishing resources. Expect millions of climate refugees.
To those of us who read and listen and follow this, it gives us worry and general anxiety. We who like to think we have both knowledge and civility prefer to carefully evaluate a next move. But the world population may not. People will soon discover the explanation for their inexorable suffering from drought, heat, flood and famine. They will hear predictions of more of the same to come - unfolding as the climate destabilizes. This is real global anxiety. It is easy to see why complete denial of global warming is so comfortable. The reality is far too disturbing.
Greenhouse warming and climate destabilization does not halt magically in the year 2100. That’s just a convenient calendar benchmark. It will continue for many hundreds of years hence. Today, humans forced to plan 20 or 30 years ahead will have to adjust and adapt in ways we never expected. Back then, we were calm about our climate future; whereas now, you and they - will be - should be - very anxious. To predict that within a few generations our species will completely perish - is not only possible, it is scientifically plausible. Barring a technological breakthrough, an alien invasion or colossal volcanism, it is certain that young children today will face serious climate survival struggles in their adulthood. No one wants that, and we might be able to mitigate the damage, but even a prediction of minimal climate calamities ahead cannot be avoided.
This means that our geography, agriculture and infrastructure will be changing radically and we will cling desperately to what remains of our civil society. Worldwide hardship. Curiously, the developed world may face the greater challenge, if only because we lack experience in simple, sustainable living. In any case, future climate victims - with no resources, will seek survival, safety, food and water, from nations and people that have resources. Many may wither and die, and many may panic to survive. Those who have sufficient wealth and assets to insulate themselves from other human suffering, will be forced to manage and defend their wealth and resources from attacks by those seeking survival. This may apply to many conflicts today: Darfur, Somalia, and Peru with it’s loss of fresh water glacier melt. Increasingly, desperate people will conflict with the affluent in boundary squabbles. Within any nation state, social destabilization is inevitable as climate destabilization moves forward. Again, we do not know the rate of change.
GENEVA, June 23 (Reuters) - Global warming must be seen as an economic and security threat, former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Tuesday, calling on poorer countries to speak louder about their climate change needs.
In an interview, Annan said he chose to focus his retirement energies on environmental risks because he believes that left unchecked, they could destabilize both rich and poor countries.
Over the millennia, humans have been blessed with a rich, stepped history of advancing civilizations - including Rome, Greece, the Mayans, the Incas, the Egyptians and China. Measured culturally, legally, medically, socially, architecturally, scientifically, techno engineering, exploration and even by self-actualization or military conquest, we are at the peak of global civilization. In an increasingly warming world with many feet of sea level rise, heat waves, disease, famine and climate strife, clearly not all these peaks of humanity will continue to rise. Whether measuring a future in years or decades, the rate of social decline will be consistent with increasing climate destabilization. It is hard to imagine many great, sustaining breakthroughs in Western civilization soon. Or for many centuries.
I would be thrilled to be proven wrong, but it seems prudent to face facts and plan appropriately.
We come together under our brand of social contract to serve our common interests, to abjure political violence, and protect peaceful interests of citizens. Justice and law cement the social order. Continuously escalating climate destabilization will severely test any social structure as humans strive to adapt. Climate adaption is by definition is a local action, a social effort that serves the present moment. Whereas, mitigating climate change requires a globally unified, shared effort. In the slow chemistry of climate, acts of mitigation require up to a half-century for effects to be seen. Without external political pressure, it is difficult to image any nation/state/organized society wanting to apply resources toward meeting a 50 year goal.
Governments are crucial to helping with local adaptation, and a world government is crucial to driving serious mitigation efforts.