Imagine for a moment you had a hypothetical baby at this very instant. How will climate change affect this baby as it grows up in a dystopia of ignorance about global warming? How will the baby fare in a progressive society aimed at sustainable development? This story will feature Olivia, living in a worst-case scenario, and Oliver living in the best-case scenario.
Oliver & Olivia
Mom and Dad quickly drive to the nearest hospital to deliver their baby. They drive a fuel-efficient SUV and are looking forward to buying a more fuel efficient car in the future. The prices of gas had grown more costly in a positive correlation over the years. The Dad turns on the radio and hears a talk show, they are talking about COP 2015 (a round table discussion on how to combat climate change). He hears one of the talk show host say, “for the first time ever, average global temperatures are 1-degree higher than they were during the pre-industrial era. Scientist also warn that this figure will undoubtably increase to 2-degrees in the near future.”
Best case scenario (2C increase) :
Sea levels around the world rise by at least 15 cm. The summer and winter in New York will increase by 1-degree more. This is due to the pollution from the 1990.
“Using gasoline will be increasingly viewed as anti-social behaviour.” — Deborah de Lange, Associate Professor of Global Management Studies, Ryerson University.
Summers and winters had become a lot more tolerable for Oliver over the years, than what he remembered from his past. In fact, summer and winter is now 1-degree warmer due to the emissions from the 1990s. Oliver being a forward think individual applies himself and studies ecology and the environmental studies once he is done high school. Driving electric cars are slowly becoming the norm and swift change in business ethics puts a renewed focus on green solutions. Oliver feels confident that his generation will stop global warming. This is in fact true, a tapering off of emissions will occur during the 2020’s. Finally the climate change beast is being tamed!
Worst Case Scenario:
Formerly tropical diseases will become widespread in areas of New York. Storms and high seas will continually bombard coastal cities
“Even in 20 years, it will be a different world, one that we will have trouble recognizing.” — John Smol, Canada Research Chair in Environmental Change, Queen’s University
Olivia’s parents now live in Halifax, Canada, on the east coast. Weather records were broken all over the east coast every other week. Hurricanes and deadly snowstorms become a common sight, happening frequently every other year. Olivia decided to apply herself to life science studies and now resides in Florida. The Florida Key islands are still not submerged yet but are in danger of being eaten up but the Atlantic Ocean. Fishing has become a lost cause because most fresh water fishes do not exist anymore. Olivia can not go swimming either because of the rampant upsurge in algae in every body of water.
Best Case Scenario (2C increase):
Swift action over the last 20 years has global warming under control but global maximum temperatures hit highs of 44C. This is a very stark contrast to 37C in 2015.
Oliver is in his profession as a ecologist is pleased that global warming is under control for the first time in a decade. However, the left over emission from the 1990s had made summer increasingly more hot. Heat waves are now four-times more likely to occur, so Oliver makes sure to keep his kids and himself away from the sun during the summers. Crops and livestock suffer because of climate change. This causes food prices to skyrocket. Average rainfall has doubled so preventive green measures were taken by the world to address this issue. Floods were a common occurrence so when Oliver bought his first house he had to make sure it was flood resistant. This was now required by the city laws. The city also created green spaces to catch excess water fall. They did this by developing permeable asphalt that would absorb rain. Emission free vehicles had become the new standard and gas-guzzling cars are becoming obsolete. Any driver that drove a car on gas had to pay a carbon tax and on top of that, gas is around $3/litre.
Meat becomes a luxury too expensive for most citizens around the world. The summers in the U.S. become too hot for kids to play outside.
Olivia watched from her television the atrocities that global warming brought with it. The food scarcity in most cities was devastating citizens. Brawls and fights for food became a common sight. New careers were made to address climate change, these include ecologist and social works. Ecologists were actively working with slower moving species in order to migrate them to more suitable environments. Social workers will be in high demand in order to alleviate mass influx of refugees, due to climate change. Most of these refugees will be from sinking islands across the globe. Research in the seed banks became essential to combat the lack of bio-diversity in vegetation around the world. Islands like Tuvalu, Kiribati and Maldives are very close to being fully submerged into large water bodies. In low-laying countries such as Bangladesh, stories of evacuation due to floods and powerful typhoons become normal occurrences. A large part of California became a desert. In many parts of the US, the summers became too hot for children to play outside and people to work outside.
Best Case Scenario:
All gas fuelled cars are obsolete and global emissions fall to 80% below peak levels.
After retiring Oliver often goes on vacation to see the best nature has to offer. His SUV is state of the art, they now come with a special spray-paint on the body of the car that act like solar panels. Gas fuelled cars had not been on the market for years and it’s become obsolete. Big trucks and planes still use “fuel”, but it is synthetic, made from renewable hydrogen and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This method of creating fuel also reduced greenhouse emissions considerably. Oliver also bought a new more eco-friendly house that is “net-zero”, meaning that it produces just as much energy as it consumes. Excess energy from his home gets distributed back into the system as hydrogen fuel. New building code require house to be “net-zero”. In the winter time the chance of the weather precipitating snow was unlikely. Emissions are now 80% less than peak levels before and the environment is turning the corner towards sustainability. Oliver would often tell his grand kids stories of the past of polluted cities and gas cars. The kids were most surprised that people 60 years ago did not have chickens in their backyards and greenhouse skyscrapers.
Worst Case Scenario:
Food and water shortages spark riots in ALL parts of the world. Property value plummets due to the heat island effect.
“There will be a lot of crime, gangsterism, and intergroup violence, and police forces will often be overwhelmed.” — Thomas Homer-Dixon, Global governance expert at Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo.
Olivia now with grandkids is in complete sadness due to state of the world. Storms now last hundreds of years and heat waves become the norm. Due to this, her grandchildren can not experience what its like to be outside and playing in the summer. Olivia had trouble getting a new insurance plan for her house because the premiums had become too expensive. Constant floods and fluctuations in the weather makes housing a constant struggle. The power grid would often fail during long summer days due to excess energy consumption. Olivia had no trouble feeding her grandkids but felt sorry for less fortunate families. Food availability is a constant concern in the year 2075. Cities often run out of food and water, this triggered mass riots and chaos on a regular basis.
Best Case Scenario:
Developing countries shuts its doors to people fleeing wars of scarcity. Tourist head to northern canada for the snowy scenery.
“There’s a reason the Pentagon is worried about climate change. Shifts in climate may not cause wars, but they can destabilize regions already under stress.” — Simon Donner, associate professor of climatology, University of British Columbia
Oliver is an old man now and loved how his job helped changed the world for the better. In his old age he would often help climate refugees settle into his country. Even with a stabilized 2C increase from 2015, resource wars continue in other parts of the world. Due to increased social and financial pressure most developed countries close their borders to new refugees. Countries had become more sufficient. They now produce their now food, manufacture their own goods and supplies its own energy. Old pip lines are now used to transport more hydrogen based energy. Countries now put a vast amount of resources into hydrogen production, this has become the most used energy source. Technology has improved to the point that removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere becomes a feasible option. Oliver often times likes to drive to northern Canada to see snow. Snow becomes a new tourist attraction because of its rarity.
Worst Case Scenario:
Raising global temperatures render large parts of Africa, India , Middle East and Australia inhabitable. Borders around countries are under heavy stress due to climate refugees.
“I worry that social cohesion will begin to fail. It is possible to imagine that civilization is unravelling, literally … not a world I’d wish on anyone.” — Jeremy Kerr, Biologist, University of Ottawa.
In this brave new world Olivia is scared to travel due to security and geological concerns. Countries like Maldives and Kiribati no longer exist on the map. The Barrier Reefs in Australia will permanently disappear due to climate change. All countries become increasingly more hostile due to weather fluctuations and lack of food and water.This renders vacationing dangerous for Olivia. Some parts of the world in Africa, India, Middle East and Australia become permanent dead zones. These areas are deemed too hot for the human body to handle. Even the sustainable parts of the world that Olivia lives in is confronted with unreliable agricultural outcomes and dangerous pressure is placed on freshwater supplies.
Source: The Star
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