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The Jehoshua Novels


Hot, Crowded and Running Out Of Fuel

That’s how a new report by the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development paints life in 2050. The OECD, a forum of the world’s 34 most developed nations predicts:

a world population of 9.2 billion people, generating a global GDP four times the size of today’s, requiring 80 percent more energy. And with a worldwide energy mix still 85 percent reliant on fossil fuels by that time, it will be coal, oil, and gas that make up most of the difference, the OECD predicts.

Should that prove the case, and without new policy, the report warns the result will be the “locking in” of global warming, with a rise of as much as 6° C (about 10.8° F) predicted by the end of the century. Combined with other knock-on effects of population growth on biodiversity, water and health; the report asserts that the ensuing environmental degradation will result in consequences “that could endanger two centuries of rising living standards.”

It’s been a bad week for climate news. The OECD report follows on from a Reuters story that says we’ve reached the point where stopping catastrophic global warming is impossible and a study from the UK’s Oxford University that found we’d be looking at a far larger warming by 2050 than we had previously anticipated.

Meanwhile, the US, world leader, is enmired in political shennanigans and selfish “top ask” gravy-making that make it impossible to pass any kind of serious legislation on climate change. Read the New Yorker’s report “As The World Burns” and weep. (Seriously, read it now.)

“Fifty years from now no one’s going to know about health care…Everybody is going to be thinking about whether Barack Obama was the James Buchanan of climate change.”

7 comments to Hot, Crowded and Running Out Of Fuel

  • yogi-one

    And they will come fast.

    You can lollygag for years because the disasters haven’t hit yet.

    A rash of tornadoes takes only a few hours to do a billion dollars of damage. A tsunami takes one day. Floods take 1-2 weeks. A heat wave, 3-6 weeks.

    You can hang around for years kind of pretending that they won’t really happen, at least not to you.

    Then one day, or one night, it all unfolds so damn quick…

    On a slightly longer timescale, where one human lifetime is the unit of measurement, we can say that most of the past societal collapses we have seen have unfolded within about 2-3 human lifespans after critical population points (and peak stresses on ecosystems) were reached.

    We must be kind of in the state that people in Thailand were before the dec 2004 tsunami. Something seems “off” but we’re not too uncomfortable yet. Then you can see something on the horizon. It’s still pretty far out there, and it looks kind of interesting.

    A few people know what the hell is is coming and start trying to tell everybody. Most people don’t get it. They just think something interesting, and most probably entertaining, is going to happen.

    Yeah, it’s going to be real entertaining, if by ‘entertainment’ you mean something that captures all your attention.

  • Don

    It’s highly unlikely the world’s population will reach that number and an 80% increase in energy consumption is a pipe dream.

    In all likliehood, I won’t be around to see 2050, but from the trajectory of events in my own life, and a study of history, I am relatively sure we are going to speed up the events of our demise, rather than put them off, in a global conflict fought over diminishing resources.

    War, a real war, and it’s after-effects, will greatly alter our future.

    I don’t think the United States of America will exist in its current form beyond the life expectancy of some in my generation (boomers).

    I did inhale.

  • Bolo

    post, if we are to survive the next 30 – 50 years and come out with a standard of living equal to or better than our current one, we need to invest on a massive scale.

    Our current unemployment crisis is simply astounding given the amount of work that needs to be done. I would guess that we’ll need close to full employment of every able-bodied adult in the country. Research and development of new technologies, new construction, social assistance, better farming, medical care, climate change mitigation and adaptation, etc.

    If we don’t do this, then I’m with Don–we’re screwed.

  • zot23

    You don’t need to wait for spectacular events like tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis.

    All that is required is almost here now: large and unseasonable variances in the growing climate. Take oranges as one example. If the season is unusually warm in say, February, the trees don’t know the difference (they think it’s spring) so they blossom. But if there is a unseasonable cold snap in March, all those blossoms are killed and no oranges are produced that year. A couple seasons of these shenanigans and you’re looking at OJ being $50 a carton (if you can lay hands on one at all.)

    All crops have these weaknesses, they grow in a region because they like that region’s weather. Too much rain and corn/squash gets mildew, too little rain and wheat dries out and lights on fire. Two or three bad seasons of this behavior in say the US farm belt and there will be an awful lot of hungry people in the world awfully quick.

    This isn’t so far in the future either. I turned on my irrigation system 3 weeks ago, it has been 70 degrees all through March and dry. Every fruit tree has budded, half have bloomed, even the “late season” trees are starting to break out. This is March in Colorado, we’ve still got all of April to skate through without a proper frost. Yeah, good luck with that. I’m guessing no fruit this year.

    We need to learn how to grow mushrooms and edible fungi I guess, anything growing outside is going to be in a state IMHO.

  • zot23

    What’s the status of your crops this year? Is it raining in Texas yet? This warmth is mucking up everything in Colorado, I think only the summer crops will be immune to this spring “breakout”.

  • adrena

    Serge Beaulieu has been making syrup for 31 years. Instead of heading out to collect sap on Wednesday at his farm in Ormstown, an hour’s drive southwest of Montreal, he was washing out his plastic tubing and counting his blessings that the past two years’ harvests were good.

    His season, which usually extends into early April, ended last week.

    “This is the shortest season I’ve experienced in 30 years,” he said. “We’re completely dependent on Mother Nature.”


    “OTP – Occupy The Patriarchy” ~ me

  • Steve Hynd

    We had more than average rain over the winter here in W. Texas, but not nearly enough for what we’d missed over the previous year. Last year, the hosepipe bans began in July and August. This year, they begin in April. Many of the reservoirs are dry, the river system and aquifers are being drainded at an accelerated rate. Not good.

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