Saturday, August 13, 2016

A partial die off in some areas of the world due to climate change while other parts of the world continue to flourish

A severe heatwave and drought happening in much of Middle East. Also, it's harder to cope with things like water shortages with rampant population growth. Too bad that in many of those cultures, they execute people for being gay and being different from the mainstream of society's push for procreation. It's often said that the situation in Syria is related to a severe drought. Washington Post article, I linked to, talks about the drought, heatwave and doesn't ignore the population issue. Two parts of article that stand out in my mind below.

In coming decades, U.N. officials and climate scientists predict that the mushrooming populations of the Middle East and North Africa will face extreme water scarcity, temperatures almost too hot for human survival and other consequences of global warming.

The United Nations predicts that the combined population of 22 Arab countries will grow from about 400 million to nearly 600 million by 2050. That would place tremendous stress on countries where climate scientists predict significantly lower rainfall and saltier groundwater from rising sea levels. Already, most countries in the region face acute water crises because of dry climates, surging consumption and wasteful agricultural practices.

Some of my thoughts below.

I hear people say our earth is headed for a big die off of the human species. A mass famine as nature acts to reduce our population from around 7 billion now to, say, 3 billion? That would be a lot of famine. It would take lots of famine and die offs just to keep world population around 7 billion, rather than the projected 11 billion by the end of this century. That is unless we reduce population growth and learn to accommodate people in better ways. I think there are parts of the world which do experience such severe famine that aid organizations will be totally overwhelmed, but at the same time, other parts of the world, like largely the west, can continue to flourish, for the most part. A heartbreaking discrepancy of fate depending on what part of the world one is lucky enough to be born in.

I may sound like I'm talking about a holy judgement against certain cultures. I remember Anita Bryant blaming a California drought, back in the late 1970s, on gay people.

Still, whatever culture or part of the world we live in, I feel it is important to curb population growth. Also to have open societies which encourage innovation and science. Things such as desalinization of seawater can allow many regions to continue flourishing in spite of dire predictions that some folks make about the future of humankind.

I may sound like I'm anti Arab thinking about the success of desalinization in Israel and Southern California. At the same time, I also read about success for desalinization in Saudi Arabia and places like the United Arab Emirates. I read that there is a large desalinization project being built as a result of (amazing) cooperation between Jordan and Israel.

Things like desalinization do take energy, but energy can come from solar power. The cost of providing water in this way can be high however. It is starting to pencil out, economically for urban use, but the vast amount of water needed in agriculture is a harder nut to crack, so to speak.

As the future unfolds, much of agriculture is likely to migrate. If the "new normal" for places like California's Central Valley become too dry to grow, for instance, almonds (which take lots of water) almond production can relocate to other parts of the globe where water is available and climate is right. It takes a while for soils and agricultural infrastructure to adapt, but I would guess this is happening. It means that food will still be shipped thousands of miles all over the world as it is today. Possibly using transportation based on green energy. The "thousand mile salad" remains.

Come to think about it, migration of agriculture and forestry practices has happened here in the Pacific Northwest of USA. This region used to be the biggest timber producing area of the country, but many of our local forests have been clear cut and population growth has created more demand for use of remaining timber lands for wilderness preservation, watershed and tourism activities. The lumber industry has been migrating to southeastern states, such as Georgia, where tree farming is done like row cropping.

Another hero technology for the future will be vertical farming. Yes, growing crops inside where less water is needed. Problem again is the cost. The economic systems, in most parts of the world, favor doing things in the cheapest way. Vertical farming can't compete with cheaper methods, but why do we always have to use the cheapest method for producing our food and energy? Here in much of the west, money is saved using the cheapest methods for producing, say, energy and then the extra savings often goes into things like inflating property values. The real estate bubble could partially be attributed to things like low prices and low taxes in some sectors of the economy providing lots of excess wealth to certain portions of the population to use in bidding up house prices. Money saved on doing things the cheapest way also goes into world military spending, of course.

I think, in Germany, they do more to control run away house value inflation, but they do pay more for electricity than many parts of the world. This allows them to produce more of their electricity from solar; which given current situations is still more expensive than power production from fossil fuel. Maybe the Germans can afford to spend more money producing their energy in better ways, rather than just the cheapest ways. I'd guess they can do this by controlling waste and run away inflation in other sectors of their economy.

Global warming, human greed and bigotry are causing much famine in parts of the world, while other regions will be able to adapt and even still flourish. Much of it will have to do with attitudes about sexuality and population as well as attitudes about innovation and technology. The agility and adaptability of societies is an important factor. Being open to change, versus being stuck in tradition can be a strategy to cope with and reduce climate change. Change can often mean a brighter future as well.

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