Climate scientist/activist and blogger Michael Tobis just republished his predictions for what climate change will bring us by 2030. He originally made his predictions in 2010.
His predictions are pretty vanilla, which is as it should be, as even dedicated activists understand that the climate isn’t going to fall apart any time soon. The IPCC thinks we won’t really see much in the way of effects until the second half of the century and even that’s with a pessimistic view of atmospheric sensitivity.
Truth be told, most of Tobis’ predictions have little to do with climate change, being more philosophical observations about the nature of life. He thinks we will all be eating farmed seafood instead of fresh caught fish–he doesn’t relate that to climate change (nor should he). He thinks life will be more hectic. Okay. Amazingly, he thinks that politicians will still be practicing politics.
But he does say that CO2 concentrations will not only continue to rise, but will accelerate. That’s a prediction worth watching. He also predicts there will be demands for geoengineering, something that has not yet materialized.
For me, five years out is what I feel most comfortable predicting, far too short a timescale for climate change and its impacts. Instead I’ll provide some data context for some of what Tobis has predicted.
Regarding CO2 concentrations, they have increased at an accelerating pace since the 1960s. In the 1950s, CO2 concentrations increased at about 0.75 ppm annually. In the past 15 years, the concentrations have increased at about 2.25 ppm per year. We’re emitting more CO2, more of it sticks around. Pretty simple.
Whether it will continue to accelerate or not will only be proven by time. It is almost certain that emissions will continue to increase. Global population continues to rise.
The developing world is getting richer. They’re using some of that money to buy things that use energy.
Global usage of fossil fuels continues to increase.
The only counterbalance to that that we have seen is increasing vegetative cover on the planet, having risen perhaps as much as 12-17% over the past 30 years. If that goes on, those plants will eat some of that pesky CO2 and spit out the oxygen that we prefer in our lungs. But it’s doubtful that that will be enough.
The other prediction Tobis made in 2010 that I want to comment on is this one:
“As climate deterioration continues, the initial impact will fall, unfortunately but inevitably, largely on less-developed subtropical regions. This year’s events in Pakistan will be marked as the harbinger. This will greatly exacerbate the already absurd tensions between the Islamic world and everybody else. The west will not be able to motivate any useful intervention. Low-grade guerilla war will persist. We will find ourselves turning into Israelis.”
Of course this might be true. But there isn’t any sign of it as yet. Two days ago there was a horrible terrorist attack in Paris. But globally, violence is down. Wars are fewer in number, whether they are civil wars or wars between states and fewer lives are being lost as a result.
Climate deterioration, if it ever existed, does not appear to be continuing. Global drought has decreased over the past century. Heatwaves in the U.S. show no trend, according to the EPA.
Sea level rise is happening at pretty much the same rate today that it was when Tobis made his predictions. Storms and tornadoes have not increased in either strength or frequency. And although the number of refugees and migrants has increased, it is apparently due primarily to bitter conflict in the Middle East, not climate change.
As for the Pakistani flood in 2010, it had nothing to do with climate change and everything to do with the huge population increase in the country that saw flood zones see too many people move into harm’s way.
We’ll see if Tobis’ predictions for 2030 come true or not. I confess I would have more confidence in his crystal ball if he had been able to predict the past.