Felix Rambles

Another step to taking back control

Possible apocalypses

03 November 2018 — Felix Pleşoianu

What will climate apocalypse look like? Mad Max? Waterworld? Fallout?

It's a trick question. The oceans will rise, and the continents will desertify. What's left of them, anyway. And then the nukes could still fly. Not that they'll make much of a difference anymore once the world's biggest, richest cities are already underwater.

But what will that be like for you? Ever thought about it?

For one thing: migration. The New York City metropolitan area has more population than Romania at this point. They'll all have to migrate elsewhere. Every single one. And at least New Yorkers have somewhere to go. People in Tokio, not so much. That's one third of Japan's population. Every single family in the rest of the country will have to take in a refugee. And that's not counting all their other coastal areas.

If you're an only child like I am, you'd better take a crash course on living with siblings, and soon. Because if you're not among the refugees, you'll be among those who have to take them in. There won't be a "none of the above" box.

So much for the cozy apocalypse where we all settle down into a peaceful agrarian life. Or rather, we'll have that too, except with all the unpleasant sides we conveniently forget today: breaking our backs to barely make enough food, living with a dozen other people in two or three tiny rooms, and being grateful when that turns out to be the only source of heat towards the end of a long harsh winter.

Oh, you know what else will fall out of that? Disease outbreaks that will make the Black Plague seem tame. Which at least will alleviate population pressure. Too bad you won't live to enjoy it.

No, seriously. Do the math. Say a billion people die out of the world's current population of seven billion and a half. Now roll two ordinary dice. If the total comes up a six, you're among the victims. Feeling lucky today?

At least you won't have to deal with the ensuing societal breakdown. Because with that many dead, a lot of things that need done will no longer get done for lack of enough people with the right skills. Which in turn will only amplify all the other issues, much like climate change feeds on itself in the first place.

On the bright side, we won't have to deal with zombies, or Terminators. What a relief.

Tags: climate, science, society

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Climate change versus optimism

01 November 2018 — Felix Pleşoianu

When the Paris Agreement was formulated in 2015, the idea was that if we could rein in CO2 emmissions by mid-century, we could avoid dealing with a climate catastrophe by 2100. That's plenty of time, right? A good reason to be optimistic about it.

We should have known it was too good to be true when polar ice caps turned out to be melting much faster than expected, while scientists had to overhaul their models every six months just to keep up with developments. Three weeks ago, a UN report revealed that we only have until 2030 to clean up our act, or else we'll face climate catastrophe by 2040. In other words, the doomsday clock jumped forward by six decades. Still optimistic about climate change?

Turns out they missed one. A new study that made the news yesterday reveals that Earth's oceans have been soaking up much more heat than expected lately. Like, several times more.

Those twelve short years we thought we had? We don't have them.

If you're wondering how we ended up in this mess, the answer is optimism. Being optimistic is all we've been doing in the forty-odd years since the first alarm bells. We kept driving our cars, running our AC units, flying around the world, wasting plastics, cutting down forests... After all, scientists were bound to come up with a miracle invention that would erase all the consequences.

They tried to tell us it doesn't work that way. We didn't listen.

But hey, look on the bright side. Soon there will be no-one left to point fingers at you. Won't have to live with the guilt. Soon we'll all be equally dead and none of this will matter anymore. So keep driving your car. It makes no difference.

How's that for optimism.

Tags: science, climate

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