For more than a century, oil has been the engine of growth for a society that delivers an unprecedented standard of…www.springer.com
Many students’ recurring nightmares involve a final exam tomorrow for a course they seldom attended all term: They can’t remember where the classroom is, and barely studied for the exam. Unfortunately, that nightmare describes humanity’s situation for the coming climate change final exam. While the stakes for flunking the Covid-19 quiz have been crushing — over 425,000 people dead globally by mid-June, economies crippled, and an as-yet unrealized catastrophe looming for many nations in the developing world — the cost of failing our inevitable collective climate change final exam will be apocalyptic for civilization.
When the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica melt, the forests of the Amazon transition to scrubland, and vast swaths of once-fertile land become inhospitable desert, there will be no climate change vaccine that will suddenly bring an end to these essentially irreversible catastrophes. Tens of millions will starve. Wars will break out over scarce resources. Hundreds of millions of climate change refugees will flee rising seas, coasts will be ravaged by stronger storms, and desert-like lands will be without the food and water needed to sustain civilization.