Thursday, April 12, 2018

The world faces a future of floods, famine, and extreme heat — here’s what it’ll take to bounce back, writes Kevin Loria at the Business Insider

  • When talking about climate change, the question we need to ask is no longer “Are we screwed?” because that answer is unequivocally yes. SEE The Cli-Fi Report at
  • The question we need to ask today is, “Now what?” SEE The Cli-Fi Report at
  • It’s possible to build a livable world for the future if we take action to restore fragile environments, transform our food and energy systems, and build in protections for people and places. SEE The Cli-Fi Report at
  • But it won’t be easy. SEE The Cli-Fi Report at
  • The world faces a future of floods, famine, and extreme heat — here’s what it’ll take to bounce back, writes Kevin Loria

LINK for full text:
A 9-foot storm surge barreled down on the city. It swamped subways and neighborhoods. A power substation flooded, causing an explosion that looked like something out of a Hollywood ''cli-fi'' film. Half of Manhattan turned pitch black. SEE The Cli-Fi Report at
Downed power lines lit close-together homes on fire, forcing some residents to swim through alleys and into houses to help save neighbors. Some 43  people died. One person was electrocuted in front of neighbors as she ventured out into the storm to take a photo.
It wasn’t a scene from a movie or a scientist’s stark prediction. This was Superstorm Sandy, which hit New York City and New Jersey nearly six years ago. It changed how experts across the US think of disaster preparedness.
“Sandy was a wake-up call,” said Jainey Bavishi, director of the mayor's office of recovery and resiliency in New York City. “One of the things Sandy showed is that we’re experiencing these challenges now and so we have to act now.”
Acting now means no longer thinking of storms such as Sandy as rare phenomena that should be handled after the fact.
When the industrial era began, we set in motion climate change, a force that will lead to more catastrophic weather events, like Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and, most recently, Hurricanes Irma and Maria. And superstorms are just the tip of this fast-melting, catastrophic iceberg.

Yet that 2-degree goal is not guaranteed. The world will need to act on emissions more quickly than it is now to hit the Paris goals. Individuals can try to improve their global footprints by flying less, driving less, and eating less meat, but it won’t be enough. The real thing that needs to happen is a global transition to renewable energy sources.
“In order to catch up with the physics of climate change, we need to go at an exponential rate,” Bill McKibben said. “If we don’t get to it very soon, we’ll never get to it.”
If we don’t achieve that, our long-term survival options are limited.
Scientists are working on some Hail Marys — just in case.
Researchers speculate that if temperatures continue to climb out of control, we could use technology to change the atmosphere and weather patterns to cool the planet. But many experts are terrified about the potential fallout of modifying our skies.

These efforts alone won’t be enough. Our survival depends on addressing the core problem, our reliance on fossil fuels.
“We’ve got to find a way to keep fossil fuels in the ground this generation,” Pawlowski said. “And at the same time we have to adapt. Water levels are rising, storms are becoming more destructive, and our population globally is urbanizing.”
In 2016 the world’s nations met to try to stave off the worst. The EU and 194 states signed the Paris climate accord, an agreement to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. While that might not sound like much, 2 degrees could be the difference between changes that are survivable and a world we don’t recognize.

Alex Steffen, a cli-fi writer and consultant focusing on environmental cli-fi, has another word for the massive system overhauls we’ll need to create to survive: "ruggedization."
“That's everything from figuring out how to defend cities against sea-level rise, to adapting transportation systems, to zero-carbon energy, to creating insurance systems that can manage widespread disruption,” Steffen said. “Many of the things we thought we could do 20 years ago to adapt are now no longer sufficient.”

For those who have worked in the disaster-response world like Thaddeus Pawlowski, recovery begins before catastrophe hits. There’s a term for this: "precovery." It means planning before things get bad, understanding what could happen, and making sure there are shelters, food supplies, and warning alarms in place, with systems to mitigate the severity of the disaster itself.

In some places, walls and elevated land simply won’t be sufficient to protect people from rising seas or powerful storms, according to Thaddeus Pawlowski, an urban designer who helped New York City set up disaster recovery programs after Sandy hit.
“There are places where we really have to give land back to nature,” he said.
In the grimmest terms, we are on the cusp of the greatest disaster response effort in history.
The question we need to ask today is, “Now what?”

Left unchecked, even a few degrees of warming could make our world largely uninhabitable, devastating civilization as we know it and even triggering an extinction event, the likes of which Earth has experienced only a handful of times in 4.5 billion years.
The question we need to ask is no longer “Are we screwed?” because the answer is unequivocally yes. Burning fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases that trap heat in the Earth’s atmosphere, and the implications are stark.
At present emission rates, more than 75% of the world will be exposed to heat waves so severe that they can kill regularly.
“You have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world's cities are drowning and the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms,” environmentalist and author Bill McKibben said in an interview.

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