In the past couple of weeks there have been several research studies projecting environmental consequences to rising global temperatures. It is an interesting mix of good and bad. Let's start with the good.
Climate change studies of the southern and eastern parts of Africa show a short benefit with increasing yields of staple food crops. These areas project increased rainfall through the 2030s leading to bumper crops of corn, rice and wheat, and as long as temperatures do not exceed plant tolerance levels should see better harvests.
But what one continent receives another loses. The same studies project that much of southeastern Latin America will face increasingly drier conditions requiring major investments in irrigation by the 2030s.
And both inevitably will be impacted negatively by atmospheric warming throughout the latter part of the century with temperatures exceeding the heat tolerance limit of current staple crops. So by 2090 without the development of new heat tolerant crop strains both regions of the planet will witness dramatic drops in yields.
The two global maps shown below illustrate the near-term (2030) and longer-term (2090) projections and the degree of confidence the research provides based on the data studied. It is interesting to note that climate change negative impacts remain significant in the American and Canadian corn and wheat belts throughout the century. In contrast eastern parts of North America and much of Eastern Europe through Russia will be beneficiaries of rising atmospheric temperatures. From the the 2030s through the 2090s the study projects a trend towards increasing water scarcity reaching severe levels in much of the American Southwest, Spain Iraq, Iran, Southeastern Australia, India and Pakistan, and the Yellow River basin of Northern and Central China.
Another good news climate change item reported in the last week is the dramatic recovery of an isolated coral reef that suffered bleaching back in the 1990s. Based on an Australian study over 15 years of Scott Reef located in the Indian Ocean the researchers happily reported the reef's full recovery. The massive bleaching was attributed to a number of environmental insults including rising ocean temperatures, disturbances to water quality and overfishing. Scott Reef may be an anomaly but it does speak to the resilience of life even in the presence of profound environmental disturbances. Let's hope that Scott Reef is not "the isolated case."
Now for the bad news. It seems that rising atmospheric temperatures will impact airfares. The reason, rising atmospheric turbulence will mean more wear and tear on jet planes traveling ocean routes. As reported in Nature Climate Change this week, it won't be just the storms that will make air travel less comfortable. Researchers predict increasing incidents of clear-air turbulence resulting from global warming. Clear-air turbulence is impossible to detect until an airplane enters the airspace where it is occurring. It often produces some pretty rough rides leading to damaged aircraft and injured passengers. The North Atlantic, the busiest air corridor today on the planet, will see "a 10 - 40% increase in the median strength of turbulence and a 40 - 170% increase in the frequency of occurrence of moderate-or-greater turbulence." So for the airlines it means higher operational costs and for passengers higher airfares and bumpier flights, a consequence of global climate change.
- About WFS
- Contact Us
- Frequently Asked Questions
- History of WFS
- Board and Council
- Press Room
- Futurist Gear
- Are You the Next CEO of the World Future Society?
- Book a WFS / Futurist Magazine Speaker
Essays and comments posted in World Future Society and THE FUTURIST magazine blog portion of this site are the intellectual property of the authors, who retain full responsibility for and rights to their content. For permission to publish, distribute copies, use excerpts, etc., please contact the author. The opinions expressed are those of the author. The World Future Society takes no stand on what the future will or should be like.
Free Email Newsletter
To sign up for Futurist Update, our free monthly email newsletter, enter your email in the box below and click Save.
You’ll rule tomorrow’s digital world. If a company fails to please you, you can wipe it off all your screens. With your finger on the kill switch, businesses will dedicate themselves to you. Routine identification will transform customer relationships and commerce. You will be known and treated personally. The most successful businesses will please everyone all the time. New tech will usher in a world where everyone wins.
In Our Final Invention (St. Martin’s Press 2013), documentary filmmaker James Barrat presents three scenarios for the long-term future of Artificial Intelligence. Unfortunately, as a skeptic he provides no preferred scenarios.
One of the advantages of being around for a long time is perspective. In particular, perspective in the field in which I chose to work many years ago – organizational and social transformation. I’m not talking about transforming a company or a city; I’m talking about transforming the whole world.
The latest resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) by SpaceX, Elon Musk's private company, met several milestones last week. First it delivered almost 3,500 pounds of supplies, including a space garden for growing vegetables, and legs for the on-board robot, Robonaut-2. But even more interesting was what happened at the back end of the launch.
Last night I watched an HBO documentary called "Questioning Darwin." It took an in-depth look at those who reject Darwin's theory of natural selection on grounds of faith in the words of the Judeo-Christian Bible. At the same time it presented the personal journey of Darwin from his roots to his presentation of his theories in the book, "The Origin of the Species," in which he described the mechanism of natural selection, the theory upon which our scientific understanding of how life evolves on this planet.
Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has predicted that we will reach a technological singularity by 2045, and science fiction writer Vernor Vinge is betting on 2029.
Sometimes simple ideas work, and this one is pretty simple.
There’s a new study out which, press outlets are telling me, shows that the United States is now an oligarchy, ruled by the rich and powerful, and perhaps that the US has been sliding in this direction for decades.