If James Lovelock is correct, we have roughly 20 years left, (give or take a few), before the CO2 levels push us in uncontrollable global warming. Wild extremes in the weather will be the norm. (They are becoming the norm now). The end result will a 6C to 10C rise by the year 2100, meaning the end of all life as we know it.
It is already stated that at current CO2 levels, the glaciers in Himalayan mountains will be gone by 2030, leaving some 500 million people without water. this projection of glacier lost is true around the world, several rivers will be dry, or seasonal creeks in the next 20 years.
One of the things that never seems to be mentioned, is that rivers aren’t going to be gone suddenly, like a tap being turned off, but will become smaller each year for a number years, and will likely have more stresses put upon them as they dwindle.
A 2C rise, now widely conceded as inevitable, is said to be enough to turn most of the grain belt regions in the US into desert. California produces 75% of our vegetables and is falling into a drought. When species like blue fin tuna are likely to be extinct in the next 10 years, and with overfishing resulting in a collapse of fisheries worldwide, the amount of available food will keep shrinking despite a steady rise in the human population.
Obviously, when food systems around the world fail, along with massive shortages of water, the world population will be taking a nosedive. There is no way to stop the heating from the CO2, as it is already in the atmosphere. Forest death throughout the Canadian Rockies and the Amazon from global heating will but even more CO2 in the atmosphere.
It is always possible that a sudden, catastrophic loss of life in the First World will help delay things because there would suddenly be less cars and less pollution produced with a lot fewer Americans. ( A lot fewer African nomads isn’t going to cut down on CO2 emissions at all). But again, the CO2 overload in the atmosphere already means that the planet is going to warm up, no matter what we do.
The COP15 Copenhagen summit certainly made clear that saving the planet was secondary to making money, and there is little reason to believe that another climate summit, this time in Mexico City in 2010 is going to produce any major shifts in thinking.
So one could say that we’re screwed. We have maybe 20 years of ‘normal’ life left before everything starts to fall apart. What do you do? If I was in my 20s, I would be furious. As it is, I’m old enough that another 20 years before kicking the bucket sounds just about right. Not a great old age, but certainly old enough. I have to have hope because I have children, but I certainly would not blame them if they decide not to have children themselves. In fact, the group VHMENT (pronounced vehement) which stands for Voluntary Human Extinction Movement preaches that the only way to save the planet is for humans to stop reproducing. This might have worked if we had started in the 1970s, but we should been working harder to get off oil in the '70s too.
Okay, things look unbearably bleak. If the next 20 years of life are your last, what do you do?