MSNBC just published an article:
I've been reading the comments to the article. They're quite predictable. You've probably read them all before. I'll make it quite clear right now that I've been convinced that human-caused climate change is real for literally decades now; so long that debating the reality of climate change no longer even interests me.
Here's what interests me now:
What form will the coming climate change disaster take?
I think that there will be an event of such enormous consequence that it finally tips the scale. An event that clears the board so that no serious doubters remain. I'm not talking about some gradual rising of the ocean, a few inches a decade, that might be ignored for a lifetime. I'm talking about a world shaking cataclysm that would happen in months, or at most, just a few years. People seem to be completely willing to sacrifice their grandchildren to suffering and death, but I don't think it will take that long. The suffering and dying have already started and there's a really good chance that it's going to happen to you! The question that interests me now is, "What will that event be?" Some possibilities:
The Last World War
Of course, we still won't agree even after Mother Earth cracks us all on the knuckles and gets our attention. Vast numbers will say that it is their God (a different God for different groups) punishing us for our corrupt ways. This could be the force that makes the actual form of the coming disaster more directly human caused. A religious group might gain control over a national war machine powerful enough somewhere to bring on the Last World War. I would claim that if it happened, it would be a direct consequence of climate change because that level of religious frenzy would have to be supported by a general environmental collapse and the accompanying famine and death. Anything less would not convince a whole country to commit national - and international - suicide.
Changing Ocean Currents
Were you aware that Denmark is about as far north as the coast of Alaska? So, why isn't Denmark as cold as Alaska? The answer is "the Gulf Stream". A warm ocean current makes the climate of Europe in general much more moderate than it would be otherwise. But this particular current could be shifted if the vast amounts of fresh water, currently locked up in ice in Siberia, Canada and Greenland, were released into the ocean too quickly. That could turn Europe - countries like Britain, France, Germany, Norway, Sweden and Denmark - into a much colder climate and the end result of that would be that their agriculture would fail and famine would overwhelm Europe.
There are other ocean currents that, if changed, would also have cataclysmic effects on existing populations. While an ocean current won't change completely in a few weeks, a crop failure can take place in just one season. Consider Russia in 2010 or Texas this year. Consider the consequences of a crop failure that no amount of grain-hauling ships could make up for. What if the rice crop from Pakistan to Indochina failed? The resulting famine would make any previous event in human history pale in comparison.
Southern Heat Wave
These are nice ideas, but they're not what I'm predicting. I call my prediction, "Southern Heat Wave".
As the MSNBC article makes clear, there's nothing gradual about the effects of climate change. As the environmental ship passes the tipping point, the effects we will see are singular weather catastrophies, like the record setting series of tornados in the midwest this year. What I forsee is a heat wave that stretches across the southern US. A heat wave that gets hot enough for long enough to cause the power grid to fail. Once the power grid fails in one major population center - say, Los Angeles or Phoenix or Dallas - it will have a ripple effect that will cause the grid to fail in others that are teetering on the edge. And once that happens, people will start to die in unprecedented numbers in these massive population centers.
You think that can't happen? In 2003, Europe experienced the hottest summer on record and approximately 40,000 people died as a result. In France alone, there were 14,802 heat-related deaths, mostly among the elderly. In Cyprus, the official high exceeded 125 degrees. This had a dramatic effect in Europe, but it wasn't quite on the scale necessary to create the complete reversal of thinking that I'm talking about. For one thing, their power grid never experienced widespread failure. They don't depend on air conditioning like LA, Phoenix and Dallas do.
A heat wave that engulfs most of the southern US combined with a widespread power failure could cause deaths from the hundreds of thousands to millions. That will get our attention. There won't be any arguments about whether the climate is changing after that.
What's Your Prediction?
But there are lots of climate disasters that might take place before this one does. What's your favorite?