If climate change continues along the business-as-usual path, the 24th century’s new world will be in some ways more like the world of Ancient Greece – with what’s left of the world’s inhabitants trading around a single sea.
For the Ancient Greeks, it was the Mediterranean Sea. For those of our descendants that survive, it will be what is now the Arctic circle.
A view of the globe like the one above might make more sense and be in more common use by then, instead of the familar globe that we are used to now, placing Europe and Africa on the left – Asia in the middle, and the North and South Americas to the right, on an equator-centered globe.
The countries that will remain habitable after 300 years of climate change are centered on the now nearly empty lands around the Arctic Circle: clockwise this shows Siberia, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Alaska.
That is the conclusion of a paper that studied how global warming will affect the northern areas of Europe as two-thirds of the world becomes uninhabitable by 2300, that finds that the effects of climate change will redraw the map of the main influence centers of civilization. Eaarth – as Bill McKibben denotes our climate altered future will center on an open sea over what is now the Arctic.
In The North: The New European Frontier with Global Warming, Professor Trausti Valsson of the University of Iceland Faculty of Engineering argues for the inclusion of “Iceland, Norway and Russia (because of Siberia) in the European Union, because the importance of these areas in the future, economically, militarily and as a future living space for the European community.” None of the three nations are currently members of the EU.
Valsson’s argument is that, combined with the uninhabitability of the rest of the planet as the world warms, that the shorter and more secure transportation routes across the Arctic Ocean between Europe and north-western Canada and the USA will make a completely different center to the world.
Russia (because of Siberia), Denmark (because of Greenland) and Sweden, Norway, Finland and Iceland because of their northern regions will become available for greatly increased commercial activity because of the warmer climate, lessened ice cover, and because, in due time, the Arctic sea routes, along their coasts, will become some of the most important global shipping lanes and will link them to other activity centres of the world.
Valsson includes this map below showing the region that climate scientists projected to be become uninhabitable by 2300. Because of the scarcity of continental land below this region, the world’s population will have to concentrate towards the top of this map within three centuries, because of limits to human tolerance of heat.
Temperatures here are expected to range beyond what humans and most animals can comfortably make a living in by as soon as just 300 years away – about as long as US settlement by Europeans. While a thin strip at the coasts will still support life, the interiors in the shaded regions will become gradually devoid of human beings (and presumably the animals and plants suited to current temperatures).
Last year McMichael and Dear published Heat, Health and Longer Horizons at the National Academy of Sciences, sounding the alarm on long term climate change scenarios, referencing, among others, Sherwood and Huber’s Adaptability Limit to Climate Change Due to Heat Stress and determining that more than half the world we occupy today will be almost uninhabitable by 2300 due to temperature increase beyond what we can tolerate.