Stifling heat, famine, oceans and acidic seas … The 8 disaster scenarios created by the researchers are frightening Because, if nothing is done, parts of our planet will no longer be habitable at the end of this century.
This is much worse than what you think … An article in the New York magazine lists the risks that humanity faces at the end of this century. In the absence of a significant adjustment in the way billions of people lead their lives, some parts of the planet will soon be inhospitable, or even close to uninhabited.
Our planet will be uninhabitable … sooner than you think:
1 / Ice melting
Until recently, permafrost, which covers one-fifth of the Earth’s surface, 90% of Greenland, 80% of Alaska, 50% of Canada and the former Soviet Union, was not a major concern for climate scientists because, as the name suggests, it was a soil that was permanently frozen.
But the Arctic permafrost contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as what is currently suspended in the Earth’s atmosphere. When thawed and released, this carbon can evaporate as methane, which is 34 times more potent than carbon dioxide, which is the main greenhouse gas produced by human activity.
This melting ice causes a rise in water levels, but fleeing the coastline will not be enough: not only cities like Miami or countries such as Bangladesh will be submerged, but the release of these gases will inevitably lead to disaster scenarios.
2 / The sweltering heat
Among them, the heat that can kill. Humans, like all mammals, are heat engines: they survive by maintaining an average body temperature of 37 ° C. When they are hot, they must cool continuously. For this, the temperature must be low enough that the air can act as a kind of refrigerant.
With warming, this will become impossible for people in equatorial or tropical areas, where moisture adds to the problem. For example, in the jungles of Costa Rica, where the humidity usually exceeds 90%, moving outdoors at 40 ° C will be deadly: in a few hours, the human body will be “cooked” from the inside as from the outside.
At present, most regions of the world reach a maximum of 26 or 27 degrees Celsius. The red line for habitability is 35 degrees Celsius.
3 / Famine
Climates differ and plants vary, but the basic rule for basic grain crops grown at optimum temperatures is that for each degree of warming, yields decrease by 10%. Some estimates reach 15 or even 17%.
Drought could become a major problem even more important than heat: some of the most cultivable land in the world is now turning into deserts.
The rains are extremely rare, and unprecedented droughts occur almost everywhere in the world where food is produced. Water stress already exists.
By 2080, without dramatic reductions in gas emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent and extreme drought, like parts of the United States. The same is true of Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East. Some of the most densely populated areas of Australia, Africa and South America. And the “toaster” regions in China.
As a reminder, the UN already counts 800 million undernourished people in the world.
4 / The emergence of more and more diseases
There are diseases trapped in the Arctic ice that have not circulated in the air for millions of years. In some cases, they existed long before humans met them. Melting ice could release some bacteria, and our immune system would have no idea how to fight when these prehistoric plagues emerge.
Recall that in Alaska, scientists discovered remains of the 1918 flu that infected up to 500 million people in the early twentieth century. And, as reported by the BBC in May, researchers suspect that smallpox and bubonic plague are trapped in Siberian ice.
5 / The air becomes unbreathable
Humans need oxygen, but the air we breathe is increasingly polluted. The more our Earth warms, the more ozone is formed.
By 2090, up to 2 billion people in the world will breathe air that will be more polluted than the standards set by WHO. More than 10,000 people die every day from small particles emitted by burning fossil fuels. To this must be added forest fires, industrial pollution and the shrinking of the Amazon rainforest: it alone provides 20% of the oxygen that the Earth breathes.
6 / More conflict and war
For every half degree of warming, climatologists say that companies will see an increase of between 10 and 20 percent of the probability of an armed conflict conflict. Overall, social conflict could more than double this century because of global warming.
7 / A threatened economy
The global economy will suffer from global warming: there is a probability that climate change will reduce global production by more than 50% by 2100. And that warming will lower per capita GDP by 20% or more by then, unless the emissions go down.
8 / Oceans and seas too acidic
A third of the world’s major cities are located on the coast, not to mention power plants, ports, farmland … At least 600 million people live less than ten meters from sea level today. Even though the population is fleeing the coast, the oceans are suffering from acidification since, at present, more than a third of the world’s carbon is absorbed by water.