Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Future History

At the library I recently picked up Dead Heat: The Race Against The Greenhouse Effect, by Michael Oppenheimer and Robert H. Boyle, published in 1990.

The first chapter is the most interesting.  It's written from the point of view of 2050, if we don't do enough to stop the upcoming catastrophe.  The authors understand that no scenario can perfectly portray the future, but they do explain what they write is all too plausible, "distilled from scientific understanding" and based on a "business-as-usual" scenario.  Here's a sample:

It turns out "[a]ll debate about global warming ended in 1998 after a four-year drought desolated the heartlands of North America and Eurasia."  Family farming ended.  Some went up north to farm, and cities like Duluth and Edmonton bulged with people while the Great Plains became filled with ghost towns.

America and Canada also suffered from "black blizzards" starting in 1996, with prairie topsoil darkening the skies.  American grain reserves hit zero. When "the Indian monsoon failed in 2005, no one could help avoid the famine." (Russian wheat went to help the starving Ukraine.)

Forest death hit the East Coast, and by 2010 the red spruce disappeared from Vermont.  There was regular fire and smoke from New England to Pennsylvania. 

"In 1993 and 1996, heat waves struck the Southeast, cutting corn and soybean production by 50 percent." "By 2015, more than 30 percent of southeastern farmland had been abandoned." Crime and drug use skyrocketed in the South.

Starting in 1997, there was the first in a series of "super hurricanes" in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, creating a tidal wave that drowned 22,000 people in the Florida Keys.  (In comparison, Hurricane Katrina killed less than 2000.)

In 2004, a "dome of fetid air" stretched along the East Coast, and water was rationed in New York.  "Smoke from dying forests" "stung eyes and throats."  All the damage caused rioting.

In 2007, shrinkage of the ice pack caused mass die-offs of various animals as the effect--starting with algae that grows on the pack ice--worked its way up the food chain.

So there you have it.

9 Comments:

Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Sounds pretty accurate to me for being 20 years ahead of its time. There's certainly a dome of fetid air along the east coast.

2:49 AM, August 09, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah- they overhyped so sit tight and enjoy your SUV

3:51 AM, August 09, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point, Anonymous, it can never make any difference how often they're wrong, and by how much.

8:22 AM, August 09, 2016  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Oddly, all of his predictions came true to the letter, except for Russia helping feed the Ukraine.

11:39 AM, August 09, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So your argument is the climate is not changing

2:26 PM, August 09, 2016  
Blogger LAGuy said...

If you're asking me what's my argument, I don't have one. I'm just noting what a book I read predicted 26 years ago where we'd be today.

3:09 PM, August 09, 2016  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

The point(not LA Guy's point but a point) is that, duh, the climate has always been changing, and to date we have not witnessed anything (not sea level rise, not hurricane activity, not forest fires) that suggest that the changes of the last 26 years are outside the normal fluctuations one should expect in a highly complex, constantly changing system. And the conclusion is that, while continued study is warranted, there is no pressing urgency for spending trillions to avoid a problem that the prediction of is about 70% guesswork.

10:38 AM, August 10, 2016  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Burn him! Burn him! He's a planet hater! And Trumpity Trump Trump!

10:48 AM, August 10, 2016  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Denver Guy is making the strong version of the argument. The weaker version is that climate change is happening, but the "experts" urging us to do something about it are known to get things wrong on a regular basis, and by wide margins (even though they won't acknowledge this even when confronted with direct evidence).

Knowing this, we should be cautious about taking their advice, since the cost is tremendous (another thing they get wrong--they tend to exaggerate the threat and minimize the cost of fighting it).

6:21 PM, August 10, 2016  

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