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Individually these things would be bad enough. Cumulatively I expect them to basically end anything that resembles a "global" civilization. Global trade will be non-existent. Resource wars will be short, sharp and genocidal. A lot of things will be broken... the internet for one... and while it is possible that pockets of civilization will survive, the reach of our species will be severely shortened. Part of the problem is that to reach plus four we'll have committed a pretty substantial error and our chances of stopping are much poorer, due to the feedbacks we expect. The other part is that that temperature regime takes us back 50 million years, but things were very different then and we can't actually look to that time to understand what the CLIMATE will be now (Continents in different places)... and we are headed for that same temperature in less than 300 years, not 50 million. The transient conditions are apt to be deadly.

See, it's this step that I don't understand - where you go from some admittedly nasty impacts to jumping to the end of civilization, or even your certainty about the extent of those impacts.

For example, yes - much of our energy infrastructure is near the coast or rivers. So what? Much (if not almost all) of our energy infrastructure has a useful life measured in a few decades, and requiring enormous investment in continual maintenance to reach even that. As the seas rise, we'll just move further inland.

Similarly, I don't understand your certainty that agricultural practices will not adapt to hotter and wetter weather. Yes, a changing climate is bad for the way we do agriculture today. But the way we do agriculture today didn't even exist fifty years ago (for the most part), and chances are the way we would be practicing agriculture fifty years from now even absent climate change would be very different as well. We have tools to engineer crops in ways that were unimaginable even a generation ago.

We have limited understanding even of what will happen to the environment with these types of continued emissions, let alone the next steps of how those changes will affect current agricultural practices, how agriculture will respond to those changes, and how those changed agricultural practices will affect society more generally.

Neither of your links really addresses that. Jim's op-ed states the obvious - a world with four degrees climate change will be have some very different weather than the world we have today. It states the (equally) obvious that this will be deeply problematic for continuing existing practices in some areas of the world. What it doesn't say is that this will be catastrophic for civilization, or even that we have any certainty as to the degree that it will be bad overall.

I think you're dramatically underestimating the degree to which civilization can make massive changes, particularly over the time frames you're talking about. China moved 300 million people - nearly a quarter of its population - out of the countryside into the cities in the span of three decades. The world is utterly different today than it was 80 years ago, and would be utterly different from the way it is today 80 years hence even without climate change. The hallmark of modern civilization is rapid change, in technologies and population centers and a host of other things.

It could be really bad. But we don't know if it will be really bad. Given that uncertainty, and the limits of our predictive ability, I don't understand your own conviction that four degrees means the end of civilization.

Albaby
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