In my last post, I discussed some of the key themes in Jared Diamond’s new book Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis. Today I’d like to do the same for Bill McKibben new book Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?
McKibbon worries, among other things, that: 1) the world’s oceans will warm sufficiently in the next 100 years to stop oxygen production and undermine the food chain resulting in mass human starvation; 2) melting permafrost will release microbes and viruses; 3) melting ice sheets melt will trigger earthquakes; 4) the added weight of seawater will bend the Earth’s crust; 5) rising carbon dioxide levels will affect human cognitive ability; and more. Science provides evidence for all of these worries.
Consider just the food supply; we all need to eat after all. The grains which supply most of the world’s calories—rice, corn, wheat—are all under stress from heat and drought. As the planet warms the pressure on these basic crops will intensify. And, needless to say, food shortages are connected to chaos and violence. Moreover, even if food remains plentiful, transportation of that food is also susceptible to threats from climate change, like flooding and drought. Furthermore, there are concerns about the nutritional value of crops grown in high carbon dioxide environments. And while bees die, pests are thriving on our hotter planet. (McKibbon backs up all these claims with scientific evidence.)
Consider too that rising ocean levels will lead to an unimaginable refugee crisis as various areas of earth become uninhabitable. The median estimate, from the International Organization for Migration, is that we may see two hundred million climate refugees by 2050. And, in the not too distant future, New York, Boston, and Miami will feel the effects of climate change too. Moreover, a team of economists predicted a 12 percent risk that global warming could reduce global economic output by 50 percent by 2100. So the climate crisis will eventually affect us all.
I will reflect on our catastrophic global problems in my next post.