As a futurist and science fiction writer, I feel I have the imagination to take current trends and extend them 30 years or so into the future of climate change to say, 2050. This is what I see happening by then or even much earlier. The Earth has already heated up by 1.8 degrees above pre-industrial norms (1720 to 1800). By 2050 that could be 4.5 degrees due to increases in CO2 (carbon dioxide) to 500 PPM (parts per million) in the atmosphere. More heat will effect weather patterns and create an increase in stronger storms and hurricanes. Greater areas of drought in already dry climates and continued melting of glaciers and ice caps in Greenland and Antarctica, which will contribute to a rise in the levels of the oceans. So what does all of this mean to the average person?
- Gasoline powered cars will gradually disappear, though you will have an electric one. Long distance roads will be automated and personal control over your vehicle will be local only. All trucking and delivery services will be automated. Oil reserves will start to diminish by 2050 and oil is just too useful to burn up as gasoline, which produces all that heat-causing CO2 anyway.
- You will have your own personal home electrical generator or a solar rooftop to fill the power gap as renewable sources get up to speed in order to cut back on polluting and CO2 producing electrical generation plants.
- Material recycling will be mandatory as resources become scarcer and more expensive. You will have your own personal indoor garden as food growing areas become more prone to drought and disruption and in-home water recycling as fresh water resources become scarcer due to larger populations, greater usage for agriculture and less rainfall in many areas.
- Half of you will telecommute to your job. Less travel means less congestion and resource use. Moving nearly 100 million people around in this country every day to and from work is very polluting, costly and not entirely necessary.
- If you live on the coast, or the heat-prone southeast, or the drought-prone southwest, some of you will have to move. Sea level rise and stronger storm surges will force people away from the coast. Longer and more persistent heat waves and drought will force populations to more temperate regions of the country.
- Local global conflicts will become endless as higher temperatures will cause many already hot areas of the world to become basically unlivable. Mass migrations will create regional disruptions in resources, food and living space. Extremists will seize the opportunity to overthrow governments and cause chaos. The drought in Syria, which has lasted for 15 years, has caused civil war and great devastation to that country. Multiply that by 20 if the rest of the region becomes affected.
- Political gridlock will become entrenched as a shrinking white population driven by Christian Extremists and Ultra-Conservative Republicans seek to keep control of the U.S. for themselves. State governments will have to step up their efforts to get anything done to counteract climate change problems that the national government will continue to ignore.
- The ultra-rich, banks and corporations will tighten their grip on political and economic control of the country in order to insulate themselves from the disruptions that the rest of us will experience in a hotter, dryer and less certain climate future.
Of course it takes money to afford a new place to live, electric cars, generators and recyclers, so if you are not well off, the future is going to be pretty crappy for you. There will be many adjustments in the next 30 years driven by climate change, whether or not you want them or believe that it will happen. The trick is to be prepared and work to reduce the amount of CO2 you contribute to the planet. Temperatures are increasing globally, that is certain, ignore it at your own risk. (Below, an old painting of mine showing a dire future where we live under climate-controlled domes, or at least the people who can afford it.)