We have argued before that climate change is about rate of change. Our planet has been as much as fourteen degrees hotter than our current temperatures and life flourished. Dinosaurs roamed the lush tropical forests of South Dakota. Scientists have known for years that we are not going to bake in the oven. The question is whether we can adapt economically.
My nephew Knuckle (not his real name) is a student at Virginia Tech. He and other students produced the following video as a class assignment. (I do not use his real name because he is not as proud of me as I am of him). The students did not pick the topic – their charge was to create a short documentary to support whatever topic was given to them by their Professor.
Global Warming was a poor choice of words to describe this 21st century phenomenon. Critics jumped on the idea and exaggerated the consequences. While Knuckle and his classmates present a localized farming scenario of climate change in a very well done video – the future catastrophes are of global dimensions.
The snow cap is melting in the Himalayas. These snow caps are the source of water for most of the river system in China. The Chinese agricultural system is dependent on this water. Centuries of work creating irrigation canals feed the population of this enormous country. When the river levels drop in the next thirty years the food supply in China will dwindle – they will be forced to purchase their food on the world market. If we only consider the consequences in China from global climate change we can see dramatic human food shortages across the planet.
The United States will have similar agribusiness drama. Nebraska will have the climate of Oklahoma. Armadillos will wander the plains in Iowa. South Dakota may once again host multiple life forms. Florida will be under water. Disney World in Orlando will become Sea World. Those old folks who have retired to Florida will be going home in droves to live in the guest bedroom of their adult children (Knuckle – pay attention).
Countries like Bangladesh, with populations over 100 million will be submerged – those folks will head for high ground. The rate of change will be slow enough for all to relocate – this is not a tsunami. But the rate of change will be dramatic enough to disrupt world economies. There will be food shortages while the farmers adapt to new weather conditions.
So what is the point of this diatribe? We are simply congratulating Knuckle for his work. He is much smarter than he knows. The video is well done but I suspect it is deeply influenced by the Professor. One day Knuckle will escape the dominance of the authority figures in his life and will break out with some extraordinarily creative fervor. (It may take him a little longer than most because he is an Eagle Scout. Talk about following the rules and conforming to social dictates!! Whooeee!). The irony is that the people who best adapt to the changing climate are the people least likely to be conformists. Daring individualism will lead the charge in climate adaptation. (Pay attention Knuckle).