mega-drought in our near future

Posted October 22nd, 2010 in Blog, Featured 4 Comments »

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

I hate being terrified without company, so thought I’d share. A few days ago, my brother, who teaches at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (the one who wrote on the Laws of Thermodynamics for this website), sent me a link to an article at MSNBC describing a new study conducted by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder CO that shows mega-drought spreading in many parts of the globe during this century, drought like nothing we have ever seen before…

…as a result of that much-maligned reality called anthropogenic global warming (AGW) – as in, human-induced, caused by the rapidly escalating amounts of greenhouse gas emissions we are spewing into the atmosphere.

People tell me that I can be pretty gloomy about our future on the planet, but a study like this puts my gloom to shame.

Climate Change: Drought may threaten much of globe within decades

I’m not going to say much about this because it speaks for itself and is very sobering. Read the article, view the maps, the progression of the anticipated drought conditions. As they note at the end, this is not a forecast; it is what is projected to happen if predictions of greenhouse gas buildup continues at the current and expected pace, in other words, if we do nothing to curb emissions.  If we would begin to reduce emissions rapidly, something else would occur, at least, one hopes, a less disastrous scenario.

Look at what happens to the United States over the next 20 years, and the next 50, and the next 100 – as in, much of the lifetime of those being born today.  Look what happens to Europe and Northern Africa, to Mexico and the tips of South America.

Image credit: University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Not making this up, just reporting the news.  Next comes what we want to do with this possible future, mitigate it by learning to live differently now, or finding out what it will be like to live in such conditions by doing nothing? Will belief systems untethered from actual creation save us – “I don’t believe in AGW, therefore this will not happen” – or can we get grounded in the workings of creation itself in time to prevent this future?

The NY Times quoted a guy running for Congress in Indiana:  “It’s a flat-out lie,” Mr. Dennison said in an interview after the debate, adding that he had based his view on the preaching of Rush Limbaugh and the teaching of Scripture. “I read my Bible,” Mr. Dennison said. “He made this earth for us to utilize.”

Sometimes I just want to hang my head in despair.


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4 Responses

  1. Steven Earl Salmony

    Yesterday we welcomed a first grandchild. Mabry Rose is here. The mission of the AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population has not changed, except there will be better communication, longer hours, faster pace, smarter campaign strategies. The prodigious collective intelligence and ineffable good will of humankind will have to be engaged, I suppose, if the human-driven global challenges looming before us (and threatening this child’s future) are to be acknowledged, addressed and overcome.

  2. hombredelatierra

    Congratulations! Steven. Bless you and yours.

    The article linked to is indeed sobering!

    If trends continue as they are and the premises of this article are correct, we should expect human population to follow a classical “overshoot-undershoot” dynanic. In this scenario, world population peaks to an unsustainable level (7-8 billion?) and then collapses rapidly (accelerated by societal breakdown – think China, 19th century – and by deteriorating agricultural outputs as time-delayed climate change works through the system).

    Avoiding such an “inevitable” scenario would indeed appear to require a “miracle”, something on the order of a major Spiritual Revelation, a collective Awakening. That’s a big order!

    It’s also very dicey: the 20th century’s “messiahs” were madmen who decimated continents and debased our civilization’s highest ideals. Not pretty.. Definitely not pretty.

    Another problem: Awakenings are not made to order, you can’t phone and order one to fit.. Teachers like the Bhuddha or Christ are unpredictable in their appearances.

    Given, then, that we have to look inside for sustainance and guidance, the role of “Savior” devolves onto each one of us. Collectively, on the community level, this means creating “life rafts” to weather the coming storm. My hope is that from this time of turmoil, a new understanding of the concept of Spirit (and “Church”) will emerge: that which dwells within all, unites, which recognizes the Christ (or other Divine Name) in the person of the Other and in the common life of the community. (One – ?heterodox? – reading of the metaphor of the vine and the fruits thereof.. And definitely heterodox on the following point: the circle of community will have to be enlarged to include the other life forms we share the fate of the planet with and on whom we depend for our our sustenance)

  3. richard pauli

    Hope and despair are two related emotions… and neither is based on rationality.

    Our test is to dispassionately prepare for our future and ourselves today. By our actions, humans are now choosing between decimation and extinction for our children. Our actions today will influence the quality of our battles in the future.

  4. hombredelatierra


    But is all that is “irrational” necessarily bad? (maybe you did not mean this – if so, I apologize).

    Take love. It certainly has an “irrational” side! And, yet, would we want to do without it? (COULD we,in fact, and still remain human? If we could not, then we must conclude that “irrationality” is a constituent part of being human..)

    I don’t think it is an either – or situation. Hope – or faith – don’t preclude acting rationally. They may actually INCITE people to act rationally..

    On the other hand, if people totally lack hope or faith, they are likely to fall into despair and / or cynicism (with all the negative repercussions we see in the general “culture” today!).

    I have a general faith in humanity which incites me to try to inflect society from the dangerous course it is on or, at least, minimize the destructive aspects of the “Time of Troubles” we live in. That “faith” is undoubtedly “irrational” – emotional / visceral – and it denies a vast mountain of counter-evidence (which could be construed as “irrational behavior” on my part).

    I suspect we make black / white judgements on the relative value of “reason” and “emotion” at our peril. The healthy, responsible life must certainly include both, I think. Psychobiologically, emotion is the high octane fuel that mammals – in particular – run on. Humans are just in very odd place..

    Ecologically, Frank