anjali wrote:Kim O'Hara wrote:My optimism is purely pragmatic:
I believe that if everyone does as much as they can we can ameliorate enough of the problems sufficiently that we can achieve a softer crash-landing - tens of thousands of deaths due to sea level rise, for instance, rather than tens of millions.
What I suspect we can all agree on, based on your above comment, is that, if the world maintains a "business as usual" course of action, we are headed for a cliff. A good planner will look at different scenarios and attempt to estimate probabilities of their likelihood. So, I'd like to ask a question of you (and anyone else who wishes to answer).
Given what you know about the state of the world today, what do you think the likelihood is for a continued "business as usual" scenario until it is too late to avoid a catastrophe? Here is a qualitative probability scale.
A. Highly Likely
C. Toss up (50/50)
E. Highly Unlikely
Personally, I choose A. From what I can tell, we are trying to turn a huge boat headed for a water fall, but we have started turning too late. Does that mean I shouldn't do what I can? Of course not. I'll throw my tormas at the approaching demon. (Echoing back to a previous post
Thank you for a sensible question!
Unfortunately or not, the answer is made complicated by the fact that the "catastrophe" is not a one-off all-or-nothing event, or even clearly defined. We're not headed for a waterfall so much as a steep set of rapids, and we can define "catastrophe" as the boat making it to the bottom more-or-less intact or just a few survivors swimming out of the wreckage. And do we count the exponential growth of solar power (already under way) as BAU or not? What about Holland''s flood mitigation project?
At this stage it is certain - not just 'Highly Likely' - that some elements of the catastrophe will come to pass because in fact they already have: we have lost species, and we have caused extreme weather events like the Russian heat-wave and Sandy.
We can't turn the boat away from the rapids. We have to ride it all the way down. On the other hand, we can make it more seaworthy, we can lighten it, we can steer better and we can reduce the height of the rapids (the metaphor is beginning to break down there, but I'm sure you know what I mean).
So it isn't really 'how likely' but 'how bad'. Myself, I think the most likely scenario is that we will be playing catch-up for the next ten or twenty years and then achieve a softish crash-landing over the next ten or twenty. The 'new normal' will be be liveable but not much fun. Extreme weather (by our standards) will be normal. Food shortages will be normal. I wouldn't be surprised if climate change refugees number in the tens of millions.
Just how bad it will be depends crucially on our efforts now, and next week and next month. The quicker we can make the necessary changes, the less-bad it will be for all of us in the future. Like Dan74 (right back on the first page!) I have quite a lot of faith in humanity's ingenuity when under pressure. I just wish our foresight was as good!