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Climate Change Enlightenment

Published on May 13th, 2010 | by Susan Kraemer

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Humans Won't Survive on Half of Earth by 2300



Average global temperatures, that have been rising for a century already, due to anthropogenic climate change, won’t suddenly stop rising in 2100, say Australian and US scientists in a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Up to half of the planet would become uninhabitable by the 2300s with an average global temperature rise of 21.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

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This would make much larger regions into uninhabitable deserts than now. Humans would not be able to adapt or survive in such conditions.

“If this happens, our current worries about sea level rise, occasional heat waves and bushfires, biodiversity loss and agricultural difficulties will pale into insignificance beside a major threat – as much as half the currently inhabited globe may simply become too hot for people to live there,” said Professor Tony McMichael, one of the authors.

Just 300 short years from now – after a relatively brief period of enjoyment of the planet compared with the dinosaurs – we could see temperatures that humans can no longer survive.

The scientists give the 21.6 degrees Fahrenheit rise a 50/50 chance. We might be able keep it to a merely disastrous 12.6 degrees global average by 2300. So far we have seen only a few degrees rise in global average temperatures. (Global average temperatures comprise the sum of increases and decreases in different regions.)

That climate change won’t stop happening in 2100 is not news. But this study manages to spell out clearly enough what that will mean  – and manages to get it written up at at least one major news outlet in the developed world – The Telegraph.

As Treehugger points out, it is only 300 years since the Enlightenment in Europe that propelled reason and empirical evidence to the forefront, allowing the development of all science.

Science made possible the development and exploitation of dirty energy and science uncovered the effects of greenhouse gases and science developed the clean energy that could replace dirty energy safely.

Even before the Enlightenment,  we survived at least 200,000 years as a species with brains: Homo Sapiens.

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About the Author

writes at CleanTechnica, CSP-Today, PV-Insider , SmartGridUpdate, and GreenProphet. She has also been published at Ecoseed, NRDC OnEarth, MatterNetwork, Celsius, EnergyNow, and Scientific American. As a former serial entrepreneur in product design, Susan brings an innovator's perspective on inventing a carbon-constrained civilization: If necessity is the mother of invention, solving climate change is the mother of all necessities! As a lover of history and sci-fi, she enjoys chronicling the strange future we are creating in these interesting times.    Follow Susan on Twitter @dotcommodity.



  • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) l won’t be there anyway so l don’t give a fu ck. Carers gonna care.

  • Danbloom

    Arctic to be the Center of a New World by 2300 and Home to 300 ”Polar Cities” for Desperate Survivors of Climate Chaos in Lower 48 and Europe
    Arctic to be the Center of a New World by 2300? So I pose this question:

    If climate change continues along the business-as-usual path, the 24th Century’s ”brave new world” will be in some ways more like the world of Ancient Greece – with what’s left of the world’s inhabitants living in desperate and isolated polar cities in the northern regions and
    scattered along the coast of a single sea.

    Google POLAR CITIES and interview me, please?

  • Miles Below

    very interesting, learn a lot!. we are from the medical area, if you want… take a look on our web page lather.

  • doug

    greed rich buinessman do not care are about us!!!!!

  • http://www.mentalechoes.org Andy

    Susan,

    I got the feeling your article was biased against science, being written in a way that suggests the blame should be put on science and scientific advancement for our current global environmental problems.

    The fact that we had 200,000 years before The European Age of Enlightenment means nothing. Technological progress has been the quintessential reason for the rise of human civilisation from the time of the first Homo Sapien Sapiens (true humans). However technological progress was incredibly slow at the beginning end of human history but now is on a geometric rise at this furthest end of human development. Which is consistent with the graph of technological advancement if taken from the year 1900 through to the present day.

    Science in and of itself is not the problem, as science is neither “good” or “bad”, it is merely a tool that is used. The real problem lies in the extreme apathy exhibited by people in first world countries towards environmental conservation. And the extreme inequality of global wealth that sees 2/3rds of the planet classified as 2nd world or 3rd world status.

    The global problem is political, not technological. Our technologies are sufficiently advanced that we could actually start to repair damage to the earth tomorrow, but that would mean taking the first world out of its comfort zone. How many want to do that when there is no immediate need? I would say, very very few. As is illustrated by the fact that oil drilling shall continue, and move into even more sensitive ecological zones.

    Andy.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      Oh, no. I just meant that that we have had so little time to be a civilized and rational species since the Enlightenment, when our civilization accelerated because we relied on science. Now – in just a few short centuries, we are turning around and throwing away science because of the “inconvenient truths” in its findings about the climate changes we are causing, and which will end our civilization.

      It is really sad that we had such a brief flowering. Especially as we have solutions already. Only politics makes us dither.

      Our technologies are sufficiently advanced that governments could requisition every available roof to put solar on it and every available windy plain to put up wind turbines and string them to transmission, etc, etc. If we implemented all the clean technology we HAVE, we could mitigate the worst catastrophic civilization-ending climate changes… But we dither, instead.

      • Kevin

        A few questions. By requisition, do you mean “steal” ? Last I checked private property cannot be taken , at least not without compensation.

        And who cares about 300 years?? Other than those who believe in reincarnation, nobody. The scientifc community pushes atheism and then expects a “rational” person to care about something other than the next 100. Not gonna happen

        • Anonymous

          Those of us who believe that we should take responsibility for our actions care about the world we leave for those who follow.

          Those who don’t are called things like sociopaths and libertarians….

  • http://www.happyplanetenglishhouse.com Chris Sharp

    This is definitely not the time to be giving up on ways to save our planet for future generations. When I hear people say we’re doomed, it is a complete lack of willing to take any responsibility to help change things. I feel that this attitude is just as poisonous as those who would say that human-caused global warming is a farce.

    We no longer should be living to simply live, we need to live with a mission now. We’re on a mission, aren’t we? This task has fallen to our shift has it not? If our attitudes and actions are infectious, let’s each make changes that others can see and be inspired by. The best technology in the world will not make much difference if ordinary people do not shift their attitudes towards safeguarding this one-and-only nest we have.

    • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      That’s why I do what I can.
      But, first we need to know what scientists are saying. And in a country which comes in at number 18th in a free press, we don’t get the information we need to act. I covered this study because the New York Times and our supposed public airwaves (PBS and NPR) don’t. Of course the WSJ, and Fox and the right wing hate radio will actively suppress climate science news.

  • http://www.msn.com/ Janine E.

    All the greedy people will destroy the earth! It’s all about politics and who will make the most profit!! Those of you that do not believe in Global Warming – like some of people running our country – Are Idiots!!! And they are the ones worried about their profit! Why?

  • Janine E.

    Man will destroy everything! Nothing but GREED!!!

  • Ben Grey NJ

    Planet’s doomsday is coming and damages are done.

    People created this disaster and will see world demise before their eyes.

    Too Late to change the clock back to save this planets from destructions.

  • Margaret

    Peak Oil will get us first. Half of all humans won’t survive by 2050.

    • Anonymous

      Bull.

      We are almost certainly to have shifted to electric personal transportation long before 2050.

      Unless something even better comes along….

  • Chris Faranetta

    You neglected to mention what they proposed for a solution to this long term problem. The Hartwell Paper essentially advocates focusing more on developing clean energy technology rather than putting caps on CO2. The paper can be found here: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/27939/1/HartwellPaper_English_version.pdf

    • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

      @Chris, I left it out because policy suggestions is just their layman’s opinion.

      They are experts in their field: climate science. Like Joe the Plumber’s opinion on climate science is irrelevant, a climate scientist’s views on the best policy design to cut CO2 the most is just another layman’s opinion.

      When I write about the best ideas to cut CO2 the most, I write up the views of those who study the field: climate policy analysts, not climate scientists.

      I did a series back last year on Robert Stavins’ great policy ideas and the theory behind how they get CO2 down that have driven our climate legislation (ACES, CEJAPA, and now APA), and on the German Marshall Fund’s analysis of why the EU trading system has worked to get their CO2 down.

      (and per climate policy experts, the climate scientists are wrong about the best policy. It is not either/or. Caps on CO2 are intended to not just drive more clean energy technology development but also to fund it.)

  • http://cleantechnica.com/author/susan Susan Kraemer

    So J, you’re for Mutually Assured Destruction? That used to be considered so MAD that it provided a deterrent against nuking others.

    But your hatred of IZLAMONIAN MOZOLEMS ON THE PLANET ! trumps common sense for your own descendants, it appears.

  • Michael Scott

    Bwahahahaha!!! Stop, stop, you’re killing me.

  • Joe Independent

    THANKS FOR THE G R E A T NEWS !

    THAT MEANS THERE WON”T BE ANYMORE IZLAMONIAN MOZOLEMS ON THE PLANET ! allah !!

    KEEP UP GRAT FORECASTS!!!!!

    • ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

      Completely agree.

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