New outlook on global warming: Best prepare for social collapse, and soon

aerial photo of sea ice and open water in the arctic
REUTERS/Kathryn Hansen/NASA
One climate scientist predicts an ice-free arctic summer in the next few years.

Now that you’ve had a week to absorb the latest assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — that we’re about out of time to cut emissions by amounts that could make global warming somewhat  manageable — I’d like to introduce you to Jem Bendell and his notion of Deep Adaptation.

“Like” isn’t the right verb there, with its sense of preference and maybe even pleasure; maybe that was reflex. Reading and writing about Deep Adaptation has been painful from the start, and I would really rather be talking about anything else today. But I feel a certain responsibility toward Bendell’s new research paper, which concludes that recent trends in key climate factors indicate we are headed for “near-term social collapse due to climate chaos.”

By the near term, he means less than 10 years from now. By social collapse, he is speaking of unpredictable and interrelated breakdowns, in affluent as well as poor countries. And that’s just the beginning: Over the following decades, Bendell sees climate disruption working longer-term injuries to governments, economies, social institutions, agriculture, industries — to civilization, you could say — on a continuum running from “inevitable collapse” to “probable catastrophe” to “possible extinction.”

How do we “adapt” to that? By accepting that the world as we’ve known it is ending, he says, then  beginning to envision whatever new one can be built on the ruins. (Also, by abandoning any misplaced notion that we can still avert disaster.)

This may come off as a radical pronouncement in a climate conversation where most everyone concerned with “solving the problem” — scientists, activists, policymakers, philanthropists — labors to find cause for hope, or at minimum an avenue for preventive action.

But even if radical, Bendell’s paper is hardly irrational (although in places it is, for research prose, untypically personal and emotional). His scholarship is in sustainability, at the intersection of environment and economics, and he has credentials: a Ph.D, a position at England’s University of Cumbria, as well as industry experience, a CV that includes a bunch of papers in peer-reviewed journals  (not including the one I’m discussing here; more on that later).

This new work has gone virtually unreported since Bendell self-published it at the end of July, though Bloomberg’s Christopher Flavelle took notice and found that Bendell and his ideas are not without an academic following. And the paper’s key point — that the velocity of climate change appears to have shifted so dramatically upward since 2014 that its progression is no  longer “linear” — aligns with other mainstream research.

For instance, a paper published in August in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discussed data on various “self-reinforcing feedbacks” that seem capable of driving further, “nonlinear”  warming of the atmosphere even if emissions are reduced (the melting of the planet’s great ice sheets being a prime example). That work, which got more coverage than Bendell’s, framed future risk as a series of “tipping points” leading to a “Hothouse Earth” scenario:

This pathway would be propelled by strong, intrinsic, biogeophysical feedbacks difficult to influence by human actions, a pathway that could not be reversed, steered, or substantially slowed. Where such a threshold might be is uncertain, but it could be only decades ahead at a temperature rise of ∼2.0°C above pre-industrial, and thus, it could be within the range of the Paris Accord temperature targets. The impacts of a Hothouse Earth pathway on human societies would likely be massive, sometimes abrupt, and undoubtedly disruptive.

The authors urged a concerted effort to predict and avert these “tipping points,” returning the planet to a more hospitable pathway. But they spoke in only mild, general terms about what sort of adaptation would be necessary if such efforts fail.

The option that’s left

Adaptation (or, sometimes, mitigation) has always been one of the three leading strategies to address global warming, but until recently it was rarely anyone’s first choice.

Courtesy of University of Cumbria Institute for Leadership and Sustainability
Jem Bendell
The No. 1 option has always been to make large, global cuts in those emissions — an effort that, as the IPCC report makes clear, continues to fall far short of what’s needed. Option No. 2 has been a grab bag of engineering fixes, like making the planet more reflective with a blanket of upper-atmosphere aerosols, or building giant machines to suck carbon dioxide back out of the air. These notions have been hugely expensive, highly risky, or both (and, not infrequently, fanciful).

Option No. 3, adaptation, has been mostly about making existing systems and infrastructure more resilient — improving the electric power grid, hardening structures against heat waves and storms, making seawalls higher, expanding the wildfire buffer around vulnerable communities, tweaking the practices of industrial agriculture. Lately it has begun to include relocating communities displaced by coastal flooding.

But these approaches have been fundamentally about holding onto the familiar. Bendell says it’s too late for that kind of thinking, because the world we know is so quickly disappearing. Key excerpts, lightly compressed and without footnotes:

The warming Arctic has led to dramatic loss in sea ice, the average September extent of which has been decreasing at a rate of 13.2% per decade since 1980, so that over two-thirds of the ice cover has gone. This data is made more concerning by changes in sea ice volume, which is an indicator of resilience of the ice sheet to future warming and storms. It was at the lowest it has ever been in 2017, continuing a consistent downward trend.

Given a reduction in the reflection of the sun’s rays from the surface of white ice, an ice-free Arctic is predicted to increase warming globally by a substantial degree. Writing in 2014, scientists calculated this change is already equivalent to 25% of the direct forcing of temperature increase from CO2 during the past 30 years. That means we could cut CO2 emissions by 25% and it is already outweighed by the loss of the reflective power of Arctic sea ice. One of the most eminent climate scientists in the world, Peter Wadhams, believes an ice-free Arctic will occur one summer in the next few years and that it will likely increase by 50% the warming caused by the CO2 produced by human activity.

The observed phenomena, of actual temperatures and sea levels, are greater than what the climate models over the past decades were predicting for our current time. They are consistent with non-linear changes in our environment that then trigger uncontrollable impacts on human habitat and agriculture, with subsequent complex impacts on social, economic and political systems.

As for the consequences:

Already we see impacts on storm, drought and flood frequency and strength due to increased volatility from more energy in the atmosphere. Climate change has reduced growth in crop yields by 1-2 percent per decade over the past century. …

In ten years prior to 2016 the Atlantic Ocean soaked up 50 percent more carbon dioxide than it did the previous decade, measurably speeding up the acidification of the ocean. This study is indicative of oceans worldwide, and the consequent acidification degrades the base of the marine food web, thereby reducing the ability of fish populations to reproduce themselves across the globe. Meanwhile, warming oceans are already reducing the population size of some fish species.

Compounding these threats to human nutrition, in some regions we are witnessing an exponential rise in the spread of mosquito and tick-borne viruses as temperatures become more conducive to them.

Journal asks for brightening

Gloomy stuff, to be sure, but one would think also of interest to the professional readership of the Sustainable Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, where Bendell submitted his paper for review and publication. But the editors, he says, asked that he revise it to include “existing scholarship … on ecologically induced social collapse” at a global scale. He found that impossible; a literature review conducted in preparing his own paper hadn’t found any such work (although I seem to recall plenty of work on collapse at local to regional scales, both modern and historical, and wonder why that wouldn’t meet the journal’s needs).

Also, they asked that he “not dishearten readers with the claim of ‘inevitable near term social collapse,’ ”  a request he rejected as “a form of censure” (maybe meaning censorship). This is an aspect he addresses in the paper itself:

As researchers and reflective practitioners, we have an opportunity and obligation to not just do what is expected by our employers and the norms of our profession, but also to reflect on the relevance of our work within wider society. … It is a responsible act to communicate this analysis now and invite people to support each other, myself included, in exploring the implications, including the psychological and spiritual implications.

This situation makes redundant the reformist approach to sustainable development and related fields of corporate sustainability that has underpinned the approach of many professionals. Instead, a new approach which explores how to reduce harm and not make matters worse is important to develop. In support of that challenging, and ultimately personal process, understanding a deep adaptation agenda may be useful.

“Deep adaptation agenda” appears to be Bendell’s own coinage, and he has a three-part strategy in mind. It starts with that “resilience” component that everybody is already behind — seawalls and reinforced roofing, etc. — but veers away in advocating for a second stage of  “relinquishment”  (giving up treasured things that make climate chaos worse, like present-day living standards and homes that overlook the ocean).

And then a third: “restoration” of cultural values and practices “that our hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded”:

Examples include re-wilding landscapes, so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, changing diets back to match the seasons, rediscovering non-electronically powered forms of play, and increased community-level productivity and support.

The necessity of ‘hope’

I don’t know why it should come as such a surprise and disappointment to learn that this journal insisted an author restate findings to be less “disheartening.” Science and scientific publishing should be above sugar-coating.

But then so should journalism, and over my four decades in the trade I have felt the same kind of pressure to search out and even amplify the hopeful note, the potential solution, the sign of progress, the thing going right instead of wrong, so as not to drive the readers to despair (or, more cynically, to another publication that’s less of a downer).

This morning I am wondering if the biggest failing of American media on climate change hasn’t been in giving too much credence to the denialist charlatans, but in raising too mild a challenge to assertions that, despite such heavy evidence to the contrary, there’s still room to maneuver this runaway truck away from the cliff.

I am not speaking here of MinnPost, not in the slightest. I’ve never felt any pro-hopefulness pressure from my editors here. But, honestly, if I had, it might well have been redundant, as I long ago got into a bad habit of applying it all by myself.

Not this morning.

* * *

Jem Bendell’s paper, “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy,” can be downloaded here without charge.

Comments (32)

  1. Submitted by Pat Thompson on 10/15/2018 - 12:23 pm.

    Ron, have you read Surviving the Future, Shaun Chamberlain’s condensation of David Flemming’s larger book Lean Logic? This sounds as though it would be a pair with that thinking.

    • Submitted by GLENN KLOTZ on 10/16/2018 - 08:05 pm.

      The word for non-linear in this case is exponential. We are now witnessing climate change in fast forward. It’s past time to take off the blinders already.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 10/16/2018 - 09:19 am.

    Nah, I will wait to build my boat to ride out the rising oceans for a bit more. Mr. Meador uses the same folks and publications that predicted an oncoming ice age in the 70’s. It’s the sun and it’s solar phases that impact weather, not human activity. Long before man, the earth had ice ages and heating periods. The only difference is there was no one to make money off the hysteria back then.

    • Submitted by Peter Pesheck on 10/16/2018 - 11:56 am.

      That would be nice, if it were so. The intensity of the sun can be measured with great accuracy, and the changes are too small to explain the heating we are experiencing. The earth is heated radiation (light) from the sun (plus some heat trickling up though rock from our molten core) and we are cooled by radiating heat back into space (day and night, but more obvious during the night). Increasing CO2 captures some of that heat that would have previously–40 years ago–escaped, so more CO2 in the air drives increasing air temperatures.

      “Nonlinear” means that the situation can accelerate, go faster and faster. Go put a piece of white bread in your toaster. Notice that the transition between white to brown bread is fairly slow, but the transition from brown to black/burned/smoking is a lot faster. This is because white bread is highly reflective, while black bread doesn’t reflect, rather it absorbs heat more and more rapidly the darker it gets. (Part of the story here is also that, initially the toaster has to heat up, but you can repeat the experiment with a white bread in a pre-heated toaster). Ever noticed how fast a marshmallow burns over a fire once it starts to get brown? Ever sat on black car seats in the summer?

      This is real, and scary. A few years ago, the models were pretty good, but–funny thing–the real world was warming faster than predicted by the models. That’s when the alarm bells should have sounded.

      I’m a retired physical chemist, not a climate scientist, but I get the basics and have done a lot of work on nonlinear systems. I’m scared as hell for my kids and grand-kids.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/17/2018 - 09:12 am.

      Back in the day, there was no scientific consensus about an impending ice age. The articles that the anti-science crowd like to cite are pulled from pop science or slipshod news magazines, rather than peer reviewed journals.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 10/17/2018 - 01:11 pm.

      Riiggghhht. I’m sure the rapid population growth accompanied by the massive amounts of pollution spewed into the environment from the industrial revolution would have absolutely no effect whatsoever. And for the last time, the “ice age” scenario from the 70’s was from a couple of articles. It was not a well researched scientific consensus. Most people understand that scientific discovery is not static…most.

    • Submitted by Vernon Brechin on 10/17/2018 - 08:54 pm.

      You stated that “Long before man, the earth had ice ages and heating periods.” No scientist dispute that fact, including the mainstream scientists who have been issuing the warnings. What the climate science denier sites leave out is the fact that the current RATE OF CHANGE is at least an order of magnitude greater than what we know happened during the last 800,000 years of the earth’s history. Some people have convinced themselves that for the sake of maintaining our relatively stable economy it is best to not present this issue of recent exponential change evidence. They typically feel a duty, and an obligation, to downplay this issue.

      Here is some information that millions of duty-bound Americans are likely unfamiliar with.

      What’s Really Warming the World?
      http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-world/

      Bloomberg Carbon Clock
      https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/carbon-clock/

      The Threat of Global Warming causing Near-Term Human Extinction
      Temperature, carbon dioxide and methane
      http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/p/threat.html

      CO2 Concentration – Last 800,000 years
      http://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/co2_800k.png

      CO2 Concentration during the last 316-years
      http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2016/01/greenhouse-gas-levels-and-temperatures-keep-rising.html

      World on track to lose two-thirds of wild animals by 2020, major report warns
      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/27/world-on-track-to-lose-two-thirds-of-wild-animals-by-2020-major-report-warns

      Humanity is ‘cutting down the tree of life’, warn scientists
      https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/oct/15/humanity-is-cutting-down-the-tree-of-life-warn-scientists?fbclid=IwAR1huNjfMMR99ZG1AlIIgAXfy_EZRyjtDOxlPtOTRFOTCQGdI2P92OhYx4k

    • Submitted by Paul Hamilton on 10/17/2018 - 10:29 pm.

      I appreciated that thoughtful comments left by others, but your position is so easily reputed that you clearly have made no effort to understand any aspect of the phenomena. Even this response gives your ignorant statement too much time and consideration.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 10/18/2018 - 02:43 pm.

      Nope. That is an utter falsehood. There was nothing resembling a scientific consensus about a coming ice age. There was a single article in a news magazine about it, but the actual scientific journals were starting to tak about warming. Sadly, this false talking point has been used over and over by climate change deniers.

    • Submitted by Joshua Carroll on 11/25/2018 - 05:37 pm.

      The human population has never been so large. Additionally, there are other factors that contribute phenomenally, such as the massive amount of plastics in the oceans and various other pollutants. The argument of the past predicting the future is specious at best. At some point soon, there will be a massive correction. Will some humans survive? Probably, though the odds seem to favor the most primitive and violent of us (at least as far as I can see now).

  3. Submitted by richard bonde on 10/16/2018 - 11:50 am.

    To Joe:
    Do you have any publications to recommend that forecast the climate future and how to prepare for that future?

    • Submitted by joe smith on 10/16/2018 - 09:36 pm.

      Yup, Farmers Almanac, will be just as accurate as any publication. Weather men can’t get the weekend forecast right but yet you will listen to 20 year forecast, not me.

      • Submitted by ian wade on 10/17/2018 - 12:59 pm.

        Actually, meteorologists correctly predict the weekend’s weather about 80% of the time. Also, most people understand the difference between predicting the local weather and climate science…most.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 10/17/2018 - 05:48 pm.

          It’s not a question of science. If you accept that anthropogenic global warming is real, we may have to give up gas guzzling cars and “beautiful” coal. The extractive industries would take a big hit.

          More importantly, however, is that it would hand the liberals a win. Science doesn’t matter, and the future of our planet doesn’t matter. It’s all about sticking it to the libs.

    • Submitted by Peter Pesheck on 10/17/2018 - 08:04 am.

      If you meant to ask me, no I don’t. I have not done any survivalist reading, and don’t intend to. The only book I have that might be useful is a Boy Scout Handbook (“Handbook for Boys”, 5th edition, 1958) that has a lot of wood-lore, knots, lashing, navigation by stars and compass, etc. It’s pitched at 12-year old boys, so it focuses on the important basics. I’ve read Bendell’s “Deep Adaptation” paper… there he argues that planning is difficult because the nature and scale what (he says) is coming can’t be predicted at this point (we all know that weather can be weird, this could be weird on maxi-steroids). I have not yet read any critique from climate scientists (will look more deeply today) but this crowd has (admirably, with good intentions, been in a “don’t say anything alarming, don’t scare the horses” mode. Classical scholarly work on climate has aimed to follow up and address questions raised by previously-published science. Since it takes a few years to do the work, and months to a year to prepare and get a new manuscript published, science moves slowly and carefully. Bendell, seeing that real climate changes were moving faster than the models predict, sensed that the normal course of science and publication was too slow. So, as I understand it, he worked directly with scientists at the various research institutes to get their latest results, pre-publication, and worked with that info. It’s not clear to me the level of discussion Bendell had with these “hands on” scientists, and what their level of agreement would be with his conclusions. / p

    • Submitted by Nicholas Vittum on 10/27/2018 - 10:48 pm.

      Yeah, it’s called Blissful Ignorance. Though it’s not really a publication, so much as a tendency to just believe whatever you feel like without adhering to any sort of logic.

    • Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/01/2018 - 08:02 pm.

      I would suggest looking at solar cycles: https://www.lunarplanner.com/SolarCycles.html

      That’s what determines what the global temps will be like on Earth. If the predictions hold, we will be entering (or already are entering) a minimum much like the Maunder Minimum.

  4. Submitted by polly blackburn on 10/16/2018 - 05:08 pm.

    It’s very frustrating looking for any specifics such as in zone 5 which trees will be best for adaptation or no trees at all. Do I install central air so I don’t die of heat stroke? Do I start heating my house and cooking with wood? Does anyone have any timeline strategy or ideas?

    • Submitted by dan buechler on 10/17/2018 - 03:28 pm.

      Polly, go with zone 5 Hardy. The metro and S MN and Iowa are in zone 5. If you want try 6 but it is severe winter cold esp at night that kills trees…..Meador I hope you are feeling better. The report was not shocking to me. But in the event of crop failures in the N hemispheres hopefully we could adjust to the shortage by rationing and we have to talk about deep adaptation. Interview Mike Osterholm. The survivors will be eating more oats and potatoes and some kind of powdered milk. We need to restore our outstate extension services. Restore the soil. Develop a more hardened water system. Change our relationship with energy. Strengthen the grid. Write about what MN is doing. Somehow some way we will have to capture the methane. We survived WWII which will probably be the lesser threat (hard to imagine). Our relationship with medicine will change. We will somehow have to avoid punitive religion but that will strengthen. Decommission the airports. Immigration will not be allowed. The cabin life will die, parts of N MN will rewild . Relinquish and restore. I am sorry to say this but most of the baby boomers will be dead. Hopefully there are enough bright hardworking kids from the rural and metropolitan areas who can survive and restore a new civilization. And if we all die, we all die. There is no denying death but there also no denying of life and new more adapatabe forms will emerge and the cycle will continue forever.

      • Submitted by Brian Gandt on 10/19/2018 - 08:58 am.

        No need to be sorry about baby boomers. I don’t doubt your scenario’s possibility, but this baby boomer will be gone due to old age by the time this occurs!

  5. Submitted by Jason Willett on 10/17/2018 - 06:44 am.

    The human response will be non-linear too. I’m not suggesting no worries, we need that worry and even more extreme emotions for humanity to get through this.I

    Humanity is still capable of greatness; think moon landing. And we will solve this because we have to, for our kids and grand kids.

    Do something today to make a difference- install LEDs, buy a solar farm subscription, or oh yes, vote TODAY!

    • Submitted by James Hamilton on 10/19/2018 - 12:46 pm.

      The moon landing took years of development and testing, which began at the close of WWII even though it wasn’t made an American goal until Kennedy’s term.

  6. Submitted by Felix Kramer on 10/20/2018 - 01:10 am.

    Ron Meador is entirely too dismissing of “Option No. 2 has been a grab bag of engineering fixes, like making the planet more reflective with a blanket of upper-atmosphere aerosols, or building giant machines to suck carbon dioxide back out of the air. These notions have been hugely expensive, highly risky, or both (and, not infrequently, fanciful).”

    Why dismiss social decisions to investigate and deploy scientific and engineering sollutions? How does the risk of new approaches compare to the risk of continuing on our current path? Aren’t humans creative and inspring? The new 1.5°C report actually starts to pay attention to them!

    For a different take: I wrote, “Where can we find hope after the 1.5° UN climate report?” https://medium.com/@felixkramer/where-can-we-find-hope-after-the-1-5-un-climate-report-880d6a617ebe

  7. Submitted by Vickie MacMillan on 10/21/2018 - 03:52 am.

    No one ever talks about we really need which is negative population. This planet is beyond carrying capacity of humans. For the record I didn’t contribute.

  8. Submitted by Elaine Charkowski on 10/21/2018 - 02:33 pm.

    Connect the dots!

    • AGRICULTURE is often blamed for the human population explosion and the resulting destruction of Nature. However, for thousands of years, many tribes have cultivated small garden plots but kept their populations stable because women controlled their child bearing. Thus, with a small sustainable population, small gardens were enough to feed the tribe. There was no need for mass industrialized agriculture and it’s use of pesticides, herbicides, etc.

    • MALE DOMINATION OF WOMEN drives mandated and culturally coerced pregnancy.

    • MANDATED AND CULTURALLY COERCED PREGNANCY drives overpopulation which is great for the economy but not for the Earth!

    • OVERPOPULATION drives economic growth due to women’s mostly involuntary re-production of consumer/worker/soldier/breeder units. More than seven billion humans buy a lot more stuff and burn a lot more fossil fuel than two billion did in 1940. This is great for the global economy but not for the Living World.

    • ECONOMIC GROWTH drives habitat destruction by changing the Living World into the Built World of pastures, farmland, cities, manufactured stuff and money for an ever increasing human population to consume.

    • HABITAT DESTRUCTION drives the Sixth Major Extinction.

    Reproductive rights for ALL the world’s women would slow the growth of, and eventually humanely reduce the human population.This is because most women do not choose to have more children than they can feed and care for.

    A reduced human population would save the Living World since fewer humans, (both vegans and meat eaters), would consume less habitat for both pasture and farmland. Fewer humans would reduce deforestation, burn less fossil fuel and reduce global warming. War would also decrease because women’s involuntary industrialized re-production of soldiers would no longer be mandated. The supply of soldiers would eventually run out as they killed each other off.

    However, men will never relinquish their appropriation of the uterus! Losing control of women as livestock would threaten their global economy!

    If women took back control of their bodies, Patriarchy (the global Earth-devouring male-dominated social system) would collapse and the Living World would breathe a sigh of relief.

    But shhh! Never mention male domination of women! Dance around it and only name the symptoms!

    Overpopulation, (if it’s even mentioned at all) is the MAIN SYMPTOM of the male domination of women which caused ALL the other symptoms (global warming, ocean acidification, war, pollution, desertification, deforestation, drought, famine, habitat destruction, endangered species, etc).

    What to Do

    1. IMMEDIATE international action must be taken to enable EVERY women on Earth to have reproductive rights.

    2. Every soldier from every military on Earth (tens of millions of them) must be deployed to plant billions of trees, restoring habitat and cleaning up pollution instead of killing people.

    3. 3.75 BILLION EMERGENCY VASECTOMIES would slow and reverse the human population explosion. Since one man can impregnate many women, it’s time to regulate MEN’s bodies for a change.

  9. Submitted by Solly Johnson on 10/21/2018 - 07:54 pm.

    Watch the October 20 video of the Rational National (Canadian David Doel), which shows that strong warnings from scientists came 30 years ago, but we have gone backward, not forward, in dealing with this crisis. This video also states how political parties have moved to the far right on this issue.

  10. Submitted by Michael Rudnin on 10/24/2018 - 02:30 pm.

    I’m not willing to give up on the notion that nothing can be done to forestall global warming, but the level of action necessary hasn’t been seen since world war 2, and our society isn’t even close to doing that … http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2018/10/un-says-climate-genocide-coming-but-its-worse-than-that.html

  11. Submitted by Bob Barnes on 11/01/2018 - 02:59 pm.

    To offer a different insight…. during the Medieval Warm Period (MWP), temps were warmer than they are today. Grapes and other foods were grown in places like the UK , Greenland etc where they are not (cannot be) grown today. This was from the 900s to the 1400s, long before the Industrial Revolution. Back then total global population was less than the current US population as well.

    Assuming there is warming (something I don’t concede btw) we should welcome it. Way more people die from cold than from heat. Way more land can be farmed in warmer temps than colder temps.

    • Submitted by Peter Pesheck on 11/04/2018 - 02:14 pm.

      Warmer temps will help farming until weather patterns change (some areas will get a lot wetter, some will become arid). Further, if we keep adding CO2 and methane to the air, warming will continue… past nice and warm, to “too hot”, to temps that are too hot to grow sufficient food–and eventually too hot or to sustain human life). Warming in the real world has (so far) gone faster than models predict, and new findings are–for the most part–showing that the warming problem is, again and again, worse than we thought. Even for climate skeptics, I think it’s time to hedge our bets… if we start addressing climate change right now, the worst that could happen is that we use more wind and solar, more nuclear power as needed, and–as quickly as we can–quit burning stuff for power. It might cost us some money, but people would have jobs working on the problem, building turbines and solar cells, doing the physics to discover better solar cells and new ways to capture carbon, and we would probably discover many new technologies along the way (more jobs, more growth)… OR we could keep on “drill, baby drill” and “burn baby burn” for energy until it gets so hot that we “fry baby fry” and “die baby die”. That truly is the choice we face… I want what’s behind door #1.

      Finally, the choices we make will impact everyone on the planet… their food supplies will collapse too, their islands and coastal cities will be submerged, they too will die in heat waves, and they will curse us until the last voice is gone.

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