Robinson Meyer at The Atlantic wonders if we are now living through the climate change worst case scenario.
In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession. This matched the trend across the globe. According to two major studies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.Are We Living Through Climate Change’s Worst-Case Scenario?
U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.
What does a worst case scenario look like? I looked around and these might be the highlights:
- all the coral reefs die; species extinctions continue to accelerate
- weather becomes much less predictable and affects global food supply and other logistics (i.e. things become a lot more expensive)
- sea levels rise, accelerate, and continue to rise; perhaps 200 foot increase over the next thousand years; massive human displacement
In other words, productivity growth slows and perhaps reverses. GDP declines or goes negative. Your children will have a worse life than you. Their childrens’ lives may be even worse than that. The bottom line is it will be very expensive.
Is it time to start planning for the worst case scenario?