Earth 2100–A Look Back

I think my only mention in Wikipedia is for a critique I wrote of Earth 2100, the ABC television show meant to warn us of the possible dangers of climate change. I wrote “. . . when people realize (as they are realizing now) that temperatures are not going to climb every year, they are not going to remember what sober scientists say. They are going to think of Earth 2100 and other scare stories about catastrophe, and realize that they were lies. They will then completely tune out science and it will be impossible to even do the sensible things we can and should do.” I guess that’s a prediction of my own, of sorts. Not sure how that’s going to play out, but I thought I’d pay a visit to what Earth 2100 predicted for 2015.

Jan. 2015: “From coast to coast, motorists are searching for relief from soaring gas prices.” …”We can see a doubling or even a tripling of gas prices. That’s after inflation.”

Guess I’ll give that a miss.


July 14, 2015: “Good morning, Miami. The summer of 2015 is on track to be one of the hottest in history.” According to NOAA, that’s actually correct. Score one for the documentary.

“A man who worked at the gas station came out holding a sign. ‘No Gas. Sold Out.’ I guess they missed on that one, too.

Sept. 8, 2015: “I’ve been staking out an area that’s been hit hard recently by gas snatchers.” Hmm. No, not really…

“In the face of mounting protests over rising gas and food prices, Congress approved a plan today for construction of 40 new coal-fired power plants over the next 5 years.” Whoops! We’re sort of going in the opposite direction.

“The country took the easy way out.” No, the country didn’t. We retired coal plants and built solar and wind mills instead. Coal used to produce 48% of our electricity. Now it’s 34% and dropping.

Peter Gleick makes an appearance. “All the bad things from climate change are coming true.” Like no hurricane landfalls, like lower storm intensity and frequency, like record harvests and absolutely normal global levels of precipitation. Yeah, Peter. Go steal some more papers.

Oct. 21, 2015: “They’re calling it the storm of the century. Hurricane Linda, packing Category 5 winds. …big storms weren’t unusual. But this one was bigger and it was headed for Miami.” Well, we’ve got six weeks to wait for this one.

Later in 2015… “Some 250,000 Bangladeshi refugees fleeing from last month’s devastating cyclone…” …”Thousands riot as China faces its worst wheat shortage in a decade, the result of seemingly endless drought…”

That science fiction stuff is tough. I guess I’ll stand by what I wrote when the show came out.



4 responses to “Earth 2100–A Look Back

  1. Te show was scripted before the 2009 financial crisis. In those days, oil prices were very high. The crisis led to temporary oversupply, which dropped prices. They rebounded somewhat, to over $100 per dollar. But the 2007-9 price run up really encouraged companies and their lenders to back drilling and developing low quality reservoirs (the so called shales, which aren’t really shales). The key reservoirs were in North Dakota (Bakken), and Texas (Eagle Ford, Permian Basin). The drilling frenzy fueled by very low cost financing (encouraged by bank consultants who didn’t fully understand the steep decline rates in “shale” reservoirs) led to a boom in oil production in the USA (the USA is the Saudi Arabia of these “shales”). The oil production soared in the USA, and in countries like Iraq and Canada.

    Most other nations couldn’t raise production simply because their oil reservoirs are depleted, and there are no new reservoirs to be exploited, even at $100 plus dollars per barrel.

    Thus the current price environment at $40 to $50 per barrel will be short lived, and prices will return to the $80 to $120 range we have seen in recent years.

    Where that TV show gets all of this wrong is the likelihood that oil prices will increase to triple the prices were seeing, which implied $250 per barrel. The price won’t go that high simply because most countries can’t afford it. Their economies will crash, their societies will go highly unstable and their consumption will drop. This in turn allows richer countries to muddle through at prices which will likely range around $150 per barrel.

    When it comes to a global market (or a global atmosphere), it helps Americans and Europeans to think of how other countries will react to events. I like to use Jamaica, Congo, Egypt, and Pakistan to think things through.

    As for the remainder of that TV show, I can’t imagine how anybody could sit through so much bullshit.

  2. I did watch the whole thing. I would have preferred a visit to the dentist.

    • Tom,
      That show was a great example of just how out of touch leaders in the mainstream media really are. Not one critical review of climate doom predictions has been widely broadcast to my knowledge.

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