World Population Will Grow 30% To 9.8 Billion by 2050

GR: By 2050, our global population will increase by more than 2 billion people. That’s if nothing gets in the way. The projected growth comes at a time when the Earth’s capacity to support us is in decline. Add the increasingly fierce storms of an unbalanced climate system to the problems of dwindling resources, and calamity becomes unavoidable. It’s too late to rebuild Earth’s food-producing ecosystems, prevent climate upheaval, or control our reproductive urges in time to avoid disaster, but we can prepare for the inevitable crash. Those of us who can’t stuff our pockets with oil money can use our minds instead and begin studying the options.

“The global population will reach 9.8 billion in 2050, up from 7.5 billion now, according to the 2017 World Population Data Sheet. This year’s edition includes a special focus on the world’s youth (ages 15-24), with indicators and analytical graphics that assess whether youth are poised to become productive adults.” –2017 World Population Data Sheet (Population Reference Bureau)

GR:  I just ran across another good discussion by Richard Heinberg ( It’s certainly worth a read.

What Happens as the Earth Warms and Climate Adjusts

GR: Editors at researched global warming and produced the infographic below. The names of the editors appear near the end of the graphic. We are fortunate that Robert Scribbler reviewed the graphic’s projections. His remarks follow the graphic.

Robert Scribbler:

[In general:]  “A bit over the mark in some respects accurate in broad brush in others.

“1 C = present warming. Actually, we’re at 1.2 C now. We do have loaded dice for heatwaves capable of producing mass injury and mortality. So far, it appears that our heat readiness has increased as well. Damages to agriculture are on the rise. Threats to water supplies are also increasing. Severe weather is intensifying.

“1.5 C appears to be a threshold where we start to see some relatively considerable carbon store feedbacks — perhaps half a billion tons per year addition vs the 20th Century from the Earth System or about 4 percent of the present human emission. Maybe a bit more.

“2 C The statements for rates of sea level rise are tough to prove. That said, at 1.5 to 2.5 C there appears to be considerable risk of crossing various melt thresholds that produce multimeter sea level rise per Century. Extinction pressure from compounded factors including climate change makes the 1/3 number possible at 2 C. Climate pressure alone probably represents more than half of this. See:

“It will be tough to avoid 2 C warming by the end of this Century if we do not rapidly cut fossil fuel burning as the article suggests. The 492 CO2e number concerns me quite a bit because it implies 2.1 to 2.3 C warming by the end of this Century. If we get to zero fossil fuel burning by 2040, that still implies about 520 CO2e which perhaps drops back to 480 or 490 as methane falls out. That’s still very close to the mark. It looks to me like we have to both perform that rapid cut and look at atmospheric carbon capture by various means. In any case, these very high CO2e levels are highly unsafe, in my view.

“Passing 2 C probably implies about 800 million to 1 billion tons per year of carbon feedback from the Earth System by end Century. That’s about 7-9 percent of the present human emission.

“I think in this range we hit a bit of a warming speed bump as glaciers start going down more rapidly and seas begin to really rise. As a result, you’re probably looking at a number of decades and possibly Centuries of very severe storm impacts and very unstable and difficult to predict weather. The ice sheets dumping into the oceans and harming AMOC and other ocean circulation patterns will also tend to disrupt regional and global weather. So it’s here that you get into a period of rapid ocean stratification and extraordinarily bad weather conditions.

“I know I’ve said that we are on a path to 4 C under typical warming scenarios, but I think we also need to hold out what happens if ice sheet response becomes quite large.

“3 C: Traditional agriculture is going to be taking very hard hits even leading up to 3 C. Post 3 C probably does represent an decline threshold. Adaptation will require very extensive indoor vertical farming on the order of requiring national policy initiatives to support their build-out. Carbon feedbacks do become a bit more of a problem as you start pushing at stores that were laid down more than 5 million years ago. The sea ice and salt water incursion scenarios are in the ballpark.

“4 C: You’re probably well past major thresholds for a several glacier systems. 50 meters of long term sea level rise is probably locked in at this point, although you don’t get all that SLR all at once. Cities at 118 F — well, we have cities out west that are predicted to hit 116 this week. So that’s not too far fetched at all.Wet bulb at 35 C becomes pretty common in a number of regions during hot periods at this threshold. Agricultural collapse pressure is very high. A number of regions including Europe, the U.S. West, China, large parts of Africa, India and many more are all likely to be well outside of growing temperature ranges at this time. Loss of 500 billion tons of carbon from the Arctic at 4 C over 500 years is probably possible at this time. Total annual carbon feedback is probably edging into a range of 1.5 billion tons per year from the Earth System.

“5 C: It’s probably enough to completely bring down both Greenland and Antarctic ice over a number of Centuries if warming stopped at 5 C — faster if you keep warming beyond it. Economic damages are certainly quite severe due to very long term crisis. You’re basically looking at a much poorer world where natural resources are much more constrained. Unless the human system produces wealth internally, poverty will be quite rampant. 5 C warming is about 4-7 C cooler than peak PETM warming. It’s worth noting that a lot of the damages will come from a high velocity rate of warming in this scenario in which natural systems would usually have thousands of years to adapt to changes that could occur within a Century or so. Without a collective response, competition over resources would become quite difficult and potentially very vicious.

“6 C: Peak Permian Extinction warming was about 14 C warmer than 1880s. 6 C is not comparable to worst case Permian levels. That said, the level of greenhouse gas emission (approx 1200 ppm CO2e implied) that would achieve 6 C warming at end Century could produce a Permian type extinction event over longer periods (many centuries).

“At 6 C you’re not quite yet in the range where you’re worried about full-on Canfield Ocean type effects. [GR:  Canfield Oceans produce deadly hydrogen sulfide. At the “full-on level, the gas rolls onshore and wipes out all animals and most (all?) plants.] However, you probably have regional dead zones that look a lot like a Canfield Ocean and are full of hydrogen sulfide producing bacteria. Sea creatures that enter these dead zones would mostly perish producing various ocean boneyards. I think at this point you probably have 50-60 percent of species threatened with extinction if this warming occurs very rapidly along a 1 Century to 150 year timescale. That said, if you achieve 6 C warming you are pushing at carbon stores that are 30 million years old or more. So you’ve probably set off a long term run up to a hyperthermal like the PETM or possibly the Permian if the carbon stores are deep enough and release long enough. In my opinion, you probably get something closer to the PETM if you peaked human fossil fuel based emissions to an 800 ppm CO2e level (implied 5 C warming at end Century and 10 C warming long term from the base forcing). If you keep burning fossil fuels, through end Century and achieve a base forcing of around 1,200 ppm CO2e or more (implied 6 C warming at end Century and 12 C warming long term from the base forcing) then what you get in the end may well resemble the Permian (or worse) due to combined human emission and Earth System feedbacks.” –Robert Scribbler.

Scribbler added this:  “So the Permian killed off 90 to 95 percent of all species in the ocean and about 75 percent of all species on land. The various killing mechanisms didn’t kill off all plant life. But the world was very barren, lifeless, and toxic compared to the rich bounty we enjoy today.

It’s worth noting that the hydrogen sulfide venting effect likely produced a number of killing mechanisms for land forms. Some would include direct poisoning. But venting into the upper atmosphere would have harmed the ozone layer which would have hit land forms very hard as well.

“I think the direct testament to the danger of sulfur related compounds like hydrogen sulfide have been deeply ingrained in land forms to this day. Even a small amount of sulfur is detectable by the noses of mammals — to produce a danger response. This is probably an evolutionary mechanism that came up from the dangers of hothouse times.” –Robert Scribbler.

Why Being Fearful Can Spark Climate Action

GR: When I introduced David Wallace-Wells’ story last week, I mentioned that some prominent climate scientists criticized the article because of its warning of disaster and doom. Those scientists believe that gentle persuasion instead of an emergency declaration is the correct way to deliver the climate-emergency message. They are afraid people would be so overwhelmed by the truth, they might simply give up.

By 2100, the coolest months in tropical South America, Africa, and the Pacific are likely to be warmer than the warmest months at the end of the 20th century. Photo: Heartless Machine

There are other reasons that scientists soften their warnings. Gentle persuasion is resistant to the most intense forms of ridicule by oil-company sponsored climate-change deniers (whew). And gentle persuasion isn’t criticized by other scientists (who learned at their mentors’ knee true science is never certain). However, I disagreed with the arguments for gentle persuasion because there hasn’t been enough climate-change action and almost no one is behaving as if they understand that we are in the midst of a global emergency.

I want to mention one of the best explainers of global climate change, Dr. Paul Beckwith. Dr. Beckwith posts informative videos on YouTube. Beckwith is a moderate climate scientist who believes the climate-change emergency is real. He has been very upset by the scientists’ attack on the Wallace-Wells story and has posted several videos discussing the attacks. Here’s the link to one of his videos if you want to sample the flavor of his response.

The article below by Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist, explains why scientists need to drop the sugar-coating and let people worry if they will, for worry is often a necessary precursor to action. And we need action. Let me assure you that we are in a global climate emergency.

“Last Week, David Wallace-Wells wrote a cover story for of New York Magazine, The Uninhabitable Earth, on some of the worst-case scenarios that the climate crisis could cause by the end of this century. It describes killer heat waves, crippling agricultural failures, devastated economies, plagues, resource wars and more. It has been read more than two million times.

“The article has caused a major controversy in the climate community, in part because of some factual errors in the piece—though by and large the piece is an accurate portrayal of worst-case climate catastrophe scenarios. But by far the most significant criticism the piece received was that it was too frightening.

“Importantly, fear does not motivate, and appealing to it is often counter-productive as it tends to distance people from the problem, leading them to disengage, doubt and even dismiss it,” wrote Michael Mann, Susan Joy Hassol and Tom Toles at the Washington Post.

“Erich Holthaus tweeted about the consequences of the piece:

  • “A widely-read piece like this that is not suitably grounded in fact may provoke unnecessary panic and anxiety among readers.”
  • “And that has real-world consequences. My twitter feed has been filled w people who, after reading DWW’s piece, have felt deep anxiety.”
  • “There are people who say they are now considering not having kids, partly because of this. People are losing sleep, reevaluating their lives.”

“While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article, I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions—namely, fear—in climate communications and politics. I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist, and as the founder and director of The Climate Mobilization.” –Margaret Klein Salamon (Please continue reading: Why Being Fearful Can Spark Climate Action.)

Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt

GR: The first four of these suggestions are for you to take to prepare for the challenges of climate change. You should recommend the last four suggestions to your government. (More on meeting the climate emergency.)

Donald Trump has rejected global leadership on the issue, so now it’s down to us as individuals to plan, and push through new policies change where we can.

Somalians fleeing drought fetch water at a camp in Doolow as humanitarian agencies warn that famine could affect 6.2 million peopl. Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Images

“If, like many of us, you have the sense that seasons are changing, winters are milder, summers a bit warmer, springs coming earlier, and autumns not quite what they used to be, you’d be right. According to a report released today by the United Nations, 2016 was the warmest year on record, breaking the record previously held by 2015, and before that by 2014. Having three years of record-breaking temperatures is a clear trend that the climate is changing.

Preparing for Climate Emergencies

1) “Make a plan; build a kit. Natural disasters are on the rise and are only projected to occur more frequently and be more intense thanks to climate change. Ensure you are prepared by having a plan for what you and your family will do in the case of a disaster. Then make a kit that has the supplies you’ll need to withstand and recover.

2) “Get to know your neighbours. In a disaster, government resources are likely to be strained. Building strong social networks, including within your own neighbourhood, can be an extremely effective way to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

3) “Reduce your carbon footprint. Anything we can do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will help slow down climate change. The mantra I use is that we must manage the unavoidable through adaptation, but avoid the unmanageable through mitigation.

4) “Call your legislators today, and every day. Demand that they preserve and advance domestic and international climate programmes, policies, and funding streams. Don’t take these programmes for granted.” –Missy Stults (Continue reading: Climate change is happening now – here’s eight things we can do to adapt to it | Missy Stults | Opinion | The Guardian).