With the news about Pakistani floods, Jackson, MS water fail, fires everywhere and heatwaves, the question of global warming can’t be denied. In thirty years, the term of a traditional home mortgage, the world will look much different with a smaller population, food deserts, and geographic changes. In thirty years, I could be 106 years old, if still alive, toothless, blind and deaf, among other ailments. What about my children and grandchildren?
The older ones will be in their fifties, perhaps hoping to retire soon from teaching, developing software, investigating and filmmaking. The younger ones will be in their forties, creating art, music, dance and conducting the Toronto Symphony. And the great grandchildren will be in their thirties, one dabbling in politics and the other making a good life for himself in spite of having Down syndrome. This is my vision, a middle-class dream that the changes to our world can be managed and my grand and great- grandchildren’s future guaranteed.
What options can the majority of people living in the tropics look forward to in achieving their dreams? They will perish or migrate to more livable areas and if we combine our efforts, be welcomed by the people already living there who have built the infrastructure to accommodate them in a healthy, accepting, progressive manner. As for me, today I am going to investigate the county planning board’s progress in instituting the changes necessary to facilitate these global warming migrations.
What prompted me to think about my family in the future was an article I read in Time on Wednesday summarizing a new book, Nomad Century - How climate migration will reshape our world by Gaia Vince, an award-winning science journalist. The summary quotes Vince as saying that migration from the tropics to above, or below, the 45th parallel will cause the world to create new cities, expand existing cities, develop farmland and provide housing and infrastructure for millions of people. The potential for making positive adjustments to our infrastructure and welcome new migrants is huge, IF we do this right.
Here are some highlights:
- Because of their large volume of fresh water, the Great Lakes in the US and Canada will be destinations for migrants.
Buffalo in New York State, and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada look to be safer choices for migrants from the coasts.
- Some cities such as Boston due to its location, or New York City due to its importance, could survive with alterations, which are already being constructed.
Boston, for instance, is far enough north to escape much of the projected extreme heat, and planners have developed a detailed strategy that includes elevating roads, building up coastal defences, and introducing marshes to absorb flood waters. New York City, which faces extreme threats but might be too important to fail, is similarly planning extensive defences, although it’s unclear how effective these will prove. Its planned Big U, a vast sea wall to protect the financial district of lower Manhattan would leave anyone living north of West 57th Street exposed to the waves.
Coastal cities that are far enough north and have steep enough coasts to protect against storm surges as sea levels rise will be safer.
- Shipping routes through the Northwest Passage will reduce shipping times by 40%.
- The frozen countries such as Canada, Greenland, Alaska, US, Patagonia, Chile, Siberia and Antarctica in the northern and southern hemispheres will see population increases as they thaw and farming and mining jobs become available. Also higher elevations such as the Alps, the Rocky Mountains and mountains in Slovenia will see increased populations.
Nordic nations score comparatively low on climate change vulnerability and high on adaptive readiness.
With a stable, non corrupt democracy, one fifth of the world’s freshwater reserves and as much as 4.2 million square kilometres of newly arable farmland, Canada could be the world’s new bread basket later this century.
Russia will be another net winner—its 2020 national action plan explicitly describes ways to ‘use the advantages’ of climate warming. According to the U.S. National Intelligence Council, Russia ‘has the potential to gain the most from increasingly temperate weather. The country is already the world’s biggest exporter of wheat, and its agricultural dominance is set to grow as its climate improves.’
- Fisheries will become more productive as warming oceans make fish grow larger and become more plentiful nearer the coasts reducing shipping costs.
- Global warming has hurt the countries that emit the lower amounts of CO2 and benefitted the ones that emit higher amounts of CO2, making it imperative that higher emitting countries make efforts to welcome immigrants from these countries that have the most to lose.
Global heating has already boosted Sweden’s per capita GDP by 25 per cent, a Stanford study found.The biggest greenhouse gas emitters ‘enjoy on average about 10 percent higher per capita GDP today than they would have in a world without warming, while the lowest emitters have been dragged down by about 25 per cent,’ the researchers found. The moral argument for including tropical migrants in the economies of the north is clear. The researchers estimate that India’s GDP per capita has lagged by 31 per cent owing to global heating; Nigeria’s has lagged by 29 percent; Indonesia’s by 27 per cent; and Brazil’s by 25 per cent. Together, those four countries hold about a quarter of the world’s population.
The good news that more temperate regions of the world can adapt to global warming means hope for millions of migrants who must relocate in order to survive. The question of how these areas will adapt to new places, cultures, religions, and ethnicities tempers this news. As Vince states,
People will move in their millions this century, and right now we have a chance to make this upheaval work through a planned, managed peaceful transition to a safer, fairer world. We must try.
Here is your September Climate Calendar.
What is your thirty-year plan?
What is your thirty-year plan?
Gather my loved ones around me here.
There is no safe place to live
Comments are closed on this story.