Monday, October 5, 2009

A Plausible (and Scary) Scenario

IISS friend, Gwynne Dyer has written an article, "Losing Control of the Heat" for The Japan Times about last week's conference in Oxford "4 Degrees and Beyond" that looked at scenarios for out-of-control global warming.

This is an eye-opening article about the potential implications of what could happen with status-quo emissions. It is an extreme scenario, but preparing for the extremes is very important, both for society and for security. However, the implications of such a rise go far beyond 'security'. Dyer notes:

"At an average of 4 C warmer, 15 percent of the world's farmland would become useless due to heat and drought, and crop yields would fall sharply on half of the rest: an overall 30 to 40 percent fall in global food production. Since the world's population will have grown by 2 billion by then, there will be only half the food per person that we have now. Many people will starve.
In western and southern Africa, average temperatures will be up to 10 C higher than now. There will be severe drying in Central America, on both sides of the Mediterranean, and in a broad band across the Middle East, northern India, and Southeast Asia. With the glaciers gone, Asia's great rivers will be mostly dry in the summer. Even one meter of sea-level rise will take out half the world's food-rich river deltas, from the Nile to the Mekong."

However, Dyer makes clear that this is not written in stone. We have the opportunity to avoid this worst-case scenario. We can either continue with the status-quo, and hope we get lucky, or we can begin the difficult process of rolling back emissions. Europe has shown us how to begin. In December, negotiators from governments around the world will see if they can continue Europe's work.

No comments:

Post a Comment