This book is worth reading but it isn’t as big as its title implies, because it is based on fifteen months traveling in the high Arctic, plus evidence from computer modeling. In The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future, Laurence C. Smith does limit his speculations to the Northern Hemisphere, more or less, as though the bottom half of our map would somehow fall off in the ensuring years. On page 125 the obvious science is stated for the millionth time: “The long-term trend for the Earth’s climate, for at least several centuries, is rising air temperatures in the troposhere (lower atmosphere). Its underlying driver is radiative forcing commanded by the steady rise of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases produced as by-products of human activity.”
The problem is that no one is listening; no, that’s not true, plenty of people are listening to the media spin, but the doubt creators are getting more than they deserve of the public’s attention, and so the massive consumption of fossil fuel generating CO2 continues. When the price of oil has an obviously temporary drop in price, people go buy bigger cars and pickups, and as the price of airline tickets goes down people fly all over the world. Here in Bend it seems everyone I know talks frequently about where they have been vacationing, and that strikes me as very strange because this town is a tourist destination, and a vacation spot for other people. We are already living a resort lifestyle, why do we need to go to some distant place? People jokingly talk of our town as “poverty with a view”, but the downtown is filled with new cars.
I drifted off of the book review, but it was to make the point that where it really matters for the climate change community nobody is acting in a responsible way. Recycling your plastic bags and carrying a cloth shopping bag isn’t even a band-aid on the real problem. Americans are producing a hundred times more pollution like CO2 than the Earth can digest. Okay that’s a guess, but what is clearly obvious if one looks at the proven science at the Recent Monthly Average Mauna Loa CO2. That data is real hard measured science, not obfuscating speculations spun out with massive backing by those who are selling bigger cars and tourism.
This book makes a clear statement that even in the far north, in the Arctic, severe climate change is already upon the Earth and upon us. It’s too late to stop the huge input of CO2 and other pollutants from raising the world temperature, and it’s too late to cope with the world population in a pleasant way. It appears obvious that the world’s political forces are unable to cope with what is happening, because the problems are decades long and are too slow to be perceived in a single human lifetime. As I see it the only thing that will cope with our problem is the new CRISPR technology that will generate living organisms to cope with our food and pollution problems. That technology may pull us through another thirty years, but another thirty years will double the human population; then what?
Local population control has totally failed. What has most clearly been demonstrated in Europe is that when a population of rich people don’t fill up their land with their own people and traditions others from poor and desperate regions of the world will eagerly fill it up for them. I am for maximizing human happiness in the long run, and it appears that this is the way it is going to work itself out.