Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren asked people to post on her website what they think the world will look like in 25 years if we don’t deal with climate change. Here is what I wrote, and it’s not a pretty picture, especially coming from a photographer/cinematographer who shoots beautiful places for a living.
Less winter weather, hotter summers, less water for desert areas and more flooding elsewhere year round. The problem with flooding is the water will not be as easily capturable as snowpack will become more and more rare.
Drought will create much higher food prices. Before that becomes the norm, we will see more severe weather in areas that rarely see intense weather, such as hurricanes and tornados. Sea levels will inundate coastal cities just enough to create migration away from coastlines that are currently heavily populated.
Arctic seas will continue to lose ice and become less able to maintain colder temperatures at the poles, creating weaker jet streams in the atmosphere, making the planet hotter and hotter every year. At a particular point, the Siberian tundra in Russia will likely get so warm that the massive amount of contained methane in the once cold tundra will begin to be released and make a planet attempting to return to normal nearly impossible for centuries to come.
Insurance companies will lose significant funding and stop carrying coverage for climate change related incidences. State governments will be asked to step in but most states will no longer be able to cover the loses, so the federal government will try for a while, but then higher tides will make rebuilding impossible over time.
Because of increasing heat, rare diseases will flourish, putting a burden on the healthcare system that will already be overloaded as people eat more prepared food with less nutritional value and more calories, making them less healthy as they avoid being outside and staying fit.
Energy costs will continue to climb until enough sustainable energy infrastructure is created to exceed 100% of the need for energy. In the interim, we will experience power grid failures as our infrastructure will be overworked and private energy firms collapse for not investing in the green energy future now.
The US military will find itself shifting away from fossil fuels and will no longer able to extend its power around the globe as stealing oil from other regions will no longer be available or viable as we pass peak oil everywhere.
Groundwater supplies will become nearly nonexistent as fracking for natural gas and overuse of water everywhere will dry up nearly all ground water supplies around the world. In the US, the hardest hit areas will often be the so-called Red States that will suffer disasters for years to come.
Biodiversity will be affected and countless species will go extinct as habitats disappear. Our oceans will continue to become more acidic, limiting fish populations and increasing pricing of seafood beyond the average person’s pocketbook. Sea life will find fewer areas, such a coral reefs, where they can grow and flourish as micro-organisms continue to fail because of warming oceans that can no longer act as heatsinks.
More trees will die from drought and beetle infestation as is happening now in the Rockies. Forest fires will become so common year round that the pollution they create will exacerbate global warming even more. There will be more flooding as mountainsides lose vegetation as well.
The unfortunate reality is, this will now happen even if we were to stop burning fossil fuels today. We have stored up too much heat and particles in the atmosphere to make a difference in 25 years. Our actions now to limit further warming of the atmosphere will only dictate how quickly we recover in the next 50-100 years.
In the interim, economies will collapse around the world, wars for food and water will become more normal, and the wealthy will have no where to run and hide as society breaks down globally. The only upside will be a limitation on population growth, but it will not be by choice, but by disaster, war and disease. Our continued worldwide population growth is also a significant factor in our unsustainable expansion of energy use.
The failure of the world to deal with this problem 20 years ago will be laid at the feet of all polluting industries and politicians bought and paid for by those in the extraction industries, the climate deniers as well as the Democrats who fail to fight for the people and species of the planet, instead limiting their governance to the whims of their funders’ greed and ignorance.
I sure hope I am wrong, but the question is, do we really want to take the chance? Not me.
It is time now for mankind to stop funding war machines and the extraction industries, and redirect our energies toward local, sustainable ,renewable and humane practices. We need to Reinvest, Rebuild and Restore our nation and the world not only for ourselves but for the future of humankind and all other species on the planet. Failure is not an option.