SOURCE: The Guardian
DATE: Sept 9, 2017
SNIP: “The problem is that humans can’t even handle a hot week today without the power grid failing on a regular basis. What makes people think it’s going to be any better when the average summer temperature will be what, today, is the hottest week of the year in a five-year period and the hottest temperatures will be in the range that no one has ever experienced before in the United States? That’s 2050.”
For the very worst-case emissions scenarios, heatwaves would not merely be a public health crisis or a “threat multiplier”, as the Pentagon calls global warming. Humanity would have to abandon most of the Earth it now inhabits. In their paper, Huber and Sherwood write: “If warmings of 10C were really to occur in the next three centuries, the area of land likely rendered uninhabitable by heat stress would dwarf that affected by rising sea level.”
7C of warming would begin to render large parts of the globe lethally hot to mammals. Continue warming past that and truly huge swaths of the planet currently inhabited by humans would exceed 35C wet-bulb temperatures and would have to be abandoned. Otherwise, the people who live there would be literally cooked to death.
Note that the ageing patchwork power grid in the United States is built with components that are allowed to languish for more than a century before being replaced.
“It’s sort of the nightmare scenario. None of the economists is modelling what happens to a country’s GDP if 10% of the population is refugees sitting in refugee camps. But look at the real world. What happens if one person who was doing labour in China has to move to Kazakhstan, where they aren’t working? In an economic model, they’d be immediately put to work. But in the real world, they’d just sit there and get pissed. If people don’t have economic hope and they’re displaced, they tend to get mad and blow things up. It’s the kind of world in which the major institutions, including nations as a whole, have their existence threatened by mass migration. That’s where I see things heading by mid-century.”