- Large-scale changes to our atmosphere and environment that normally happen over thousands of years are now happening over decades.
- As our global atmosphere heats up and becomes warmer and more turbulent from fossil fuel burning and its greenhouse gas effect, our personal, business, and national lives will soon become more turbulent in many new ways.
The following graphic contains an overview of the main consequences of global warming. Further down this page, you will find detailed explanations for each one, beginning with the horrible financial consequences we will all face.
Here, we will present the most destructive consequences of global warming. This list of unfolding consequences will provide critical early warning signals that every prudent person should be monitoring.
Month-by-month and year-by-year, the consequences of our escalating global warming will increasingly:
cut into your personal, business, and national budgets,
change your normal day-to-day personal and work life in increasingly negative ways,
destroy most of the plans you are currently making for your future, and eventually
cause you to consider migrating above or below the 45 parallel north or south to reduce your suffering and survive a bit longer.
Although the list of global warming consequences is scary, there is still hope to avert the worst of it. The unhappy vision of future consequences you will see unfolding below occurs only if we fail to act immediately using effective strategies like those offered in the Job One For Humanity Plan.
The financial costs consequences of the escalating global warming emergency
We are starting out the list of worst global warming consequences with the personal, business, and national financial costs of global warming because financially disasters are something that most people are concerned about and monitor constantly for their future wellbeing.
If temperatures continue to rise as they are doing now and rise only as over “optimistically” projected by current global warming authorities until the turn-of-the-century:
1. Average global income will shrink by 23%. (1)
2. Global warming will facilitate a massive transfer of value and wealth from the hotter parts of the earth to the cooler parts. At least initially, countries like Russia, Mongolia, Canada, and possibly the northernmost parts of the U.S. will see large economic benefits. Most of Europe will do slightly better even though parts of it will suffer severe droughts. The U.S. and China will do slightly worse, mostly because the southern and western parts of the United States will be in a heat and/or drought crisis. All of Africa, Asia, South America, and the Middle East will be economically ravaged
3. U.S. gross domestic product per person will drop by 36%. (2)
4. Inflation will continually rise (reaching up to 100% in the final phases of the Climageddon Scenario) (3). This rising inflation is due to having to repair the ever-escalating, near continuous damage from ever-more global warming related natural disasters as they continue to expand across, local, regional, national and global areas. Repairing these continuous and escalating natural disasters will create an ever-increasing need for resources that will grow ever-scarcer. The needed repairs and the resource scarcity will continually push prices and inflation higher and higher.
The financial costs of global warming will go up with each rising degree of average global temperature. It is highly probable that global warming costs will not rise in a linear fashion, but more likely in a rapidly rising exponential curve.
The estimated differences in total global warming costs are derived from different inputs, assumptions, and computer models. As you will soon discover, no matter what estimates you choose to use, the escalating costs of global warming will put an unbearable, steadily increasing burden on the citizens and nations of the world. When you read these cost estimates, keep in mind that none of these estimates places any dollar value on the massive predicted loss of human life.
Obviously it will be horrendously costly to repair, rebuild, relocate, or construct for the first time both current and new infrastructure, homes, and businesses. The Stern Review done in 2006 estimated that the rising costs of escalating global warming will grow to 5% or more of the gross domestic product of all the nations on Earth. (Gross domestic product [GDP] is a monetary measure of the value of all goods and services produced in a given period of time [quarterly or yearly].)
This means that 5% of the the world’s total gross domestic product will be lost to emergency recovery from global warming-related consequences. For an economic comparison and perspective, consider that the Great Depression of the 1930s in the United States was the result of only a 4% loss in U.S. gross domestic product.
Newer studies from 2015 project that if the average global temperature increase reaches 6° Celsius (10.8° Fahrenheit) by the end of the century, the nations of the world will be spending from 10% up to a possible 30% of their total gross domestic product recovering from an endless stream of mega global warming-related consequences and catastrophes on the final road to extinction. The current GDP of the world is about $80 trillion a year; by 2100 it may double or triple that. This means we could be spending one-third of the world’s GDP in 2100—about $100 trillion a year—just to try to survive extinction from global warming.
If we are able to avoid global warming extinction, the total estimated costs of all related global warming destruction could be in the range of $400-$600 trillion—about eight years of the current total gross domestic product for every nation on Earth. To put this in perspective, this means that if we fail to successfully resolve global warming now, farther down the road we will have to dedicate 5 to 8 times the total current value of all annual global human productivity to try to recover from the global warming consequences.
Worse yet, that is only what we may have to pay if we are lucky. If we go into irreversible or extinction-level climate destabilization, what will the cost be then?
Additionally, all of the related financial costs of global warming-related catastrophes and emergencies will rapidly diminish any existing national emergency recovery safety nets. This will cause unthinkable suffering among those who are not prepared and who will consequently have no governmental safety net.
It is clear that no person, corporation or nation will be able to cope with these ever-increasing levels of economic losses caused by global warming.
Here is only a small sample of costs happening already with global warming-influenced extreme weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which tracks U.S. billion-dollar disaster events resulting from extreme weather, has found that severe storms caused losses of $8 billion in the 1980s, $26 billion in the 1990s, $43 billion in the 2000s, and $78 billion thus far in the 2010s. (4) In the past few years, the United States has experienced nearly 50 climate-related disasters, each costing taxpayers over $1 billion.
In 2017 alone, the total combined costs of all US global warming aggravated disasters was about 500 billion dollars. Hurricane Harvey alone exceeded 300 billion and hurricanes Irma, and Marie and the many wildfires and mud slides in California made up the difference.) This 300 billion dollar cost was exactly what was predicted in the new Climageddon Scenario climate model in phase 2 (described in the new book Climageddon, The Global Warming Emergency and How To Survive It.)
In the illustration below you can see the predicted single incident increasing costs of global warming aggravated disasters through the six stages of the Climageddon Scenario climate model. You can also see how much worse our single incident global warming aggravated disaster costs will become as we move from phase to phase.
If we continue on the path of escalating global warming, we will soon be facing a new kind of superstorm, what can be called a millennial superstorm. Millennial superstorms are storms of such severity that they have not been present on Earth for thousands of years. These new millennial superstorms are important to consider because almost all of our infrastructure has been built on the basis of surviving the worst storm that occurs about once every 100 years. Our current infrastructure is in no way prepared to survive these 1,000-year millennial superstorms. For more data on increasingly extreme storms, read this article by Paul Douglas. (5)
Who are the biggest financial losers as global warming increases?
There will be very big financial losers as global warming escalates. A few of the biggest losers will be:
a. Home and business owners in global warming unsafe catastrophe zones. Those living near river or lake floodplains or close to oceans, or areas vulnerable to wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, or tornadoes will be subject to huge real estate valuation losses and insurance premium increases. Insurance companies will be forced to raise prices 1-5% per year for any customers in the escalating global warming high-danger zones, or they will cancel policies and offload the risks and the unpredictable costs onto national government relief programs and safety nets.
It would also not be unreasonable to estimate that real estate prices in affected global warming high-risk areas will soon begin dropping 1-3% per year as savvy buyers realize the risk and potential losses involved in such properties. In extremely high-risk areas, real estate prices could crash drastically, similar to the way the prices of homes and businesses crashed when toxic pollution was discovered in the water and soils at Love Canal, New York. (See this article on the new rules for buying real estate in the world of increasing global warming and the vast new global warming unsafe zones.)
b. Fossil fuel companies and related industries will not be able to hide or secretly offload the pollution and health costs onto unsuspecting taxpayers for the worst effects of their products. Fossil fuel subsidies that now total $5.3 trillion a year will soon disappear, and special global warming reduction carbon tax fees from $40-$100 a ton or more will be added to their operational costs. Fossil fuel companies will suffer massive stock divestment actions, massive numbers of individual and class-action lawsuits holding them responsible for global warming damages and they will be hindered by governments with new regulations and taxes on profits to further reduce fossil fuel use.
On the other hand, green energy will become highly subsidized, and fossil fuel energy generation will become highly unprofitable by comparison. This does not take into consideration the momentum building behind the rapidly growing movement to divest from fossil fuel holdings.
c. Countries in the Southern hemisphere will be most affected by the worst of escalating global warming. They will experience soaring heat, the rapid spread of tropical diseases, as well as economic, social, and political instability. Needless to say, such countries whose economies are dependent on tourism will see those revenues steadily disappear. The irony here is that many of the undeveloped nations that have produced only a tiny fraction of total global warming will get poorer as northern countries responsible for most of the global warming will initially get richer and experience other benefits.
d. Millennials and the younger generations will be financially punished the most by escalating global warming. Click here to learn more for a shocking article about the trillions of dollars the younger generations will lose. (6)
e. Average individuals from every generation in global warming unsafe zones will watch their monthly budgets, reserves, and personal and business equity be destroyed. This is because global warming-related inflation and “natural” disasters and their recovery costs will continue rising as the temperature rises. Part of the reason for this loss of equity is that as the emergency worsens, individuals will not be able to find relief from either insurance or government emergency programs because eventually those funds will also be exhausted by the ever-widening drain in the bathtub of global warming costs. To add further hardship, these individuals will endure steadily increasing new taxes, which their governments will be forced to impose as insurance companies go bankrupt due to the continuous, worsening “natural” disasters caused by global warming. To learn more about global warming unsafe zones see the Migrating North or South of the 45 Parallel map and copy near the bottom of this page.
f. The poor and the middle class will be the first to suffer and they will suffer the most. In addition to the pain of dwindling personal equity and rapidly increasing taxes from ever-escalating global warming disasters, the poor and the middle class will also watch their government social security and safety net benefits continually cut back and finally disappear as their governments try to cope with dwindling and overburdened resources themselves (i.e. retirement and unemployment benefits, food assistance, assistance for the elderly or physically or mentally handicapped, worker’s compensation, etc.). Click here to see a small glimpse of how bad it will get for the poor. (7)
In the early to mid phases of the Climageddon Scenario described here, it is fair to say that almost everyone will begin watching the process of their personal wealth dwindling and disappearing. More will be said about the many costs of escalating global warming here.
The other key global warming consequences to prepare yourself for across climate, human, and biological systems
Human-caused carbon and methane pollution of the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels causes global warming. This carbon and methane pollution process traps more of the sun’s solar energy in the form of heat inside our atmosphere. This increased atmospheric heat means more heat waves and many more 100+-degree days annually. During the growing season, having more than 10 days with 100+-degree temperatures is catastrophic for many of the world’s five key food staples (corn, wheat, rice, soybeans, potatoes).
In many of the warmer climates, regular temperatures of 46° to 51° Celsius (115° to 125° degrees Fahrenheit) will become commonplace. During the hottest summer days in some traditionally hot places, temperatures could rise as high as 71° Celsius (160° Fahrenheit) within just decades.
What we are not talking about here are the large-scale changes to our atmosphere, seasons, weather, and environment that happen normally over thousands of years. These large-scale changes are now happening over frighteningly shorter time periods, such as decades!
It's important to understand how increasing heat will affect us personally. For instance, for every degree of Celsius temperature increase, global food production will drop 10% in many southern areas. Meanwhile the human population will continue to soar toward 9 billion.
As we approach 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) of global warming-caused heat increase, 1.5 billion people will be exposed to heat waves each year. At a 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) increase, the number of heat wave exposures triples to 4.5 billion. At a 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) increase, 6 billion people will be exposed. Click here (8) to see a 30-second animation called Earth's Long-Term Warming Trend, 1880-2015.
Droughts are due to increased heat and reduced moisture over prolonged periods of time. There will be an increased probability and intensity of droughts. As the climate warms, experts estimate drought conditions may increase by 66 percent. Severe droughts are expected in Europe, but Africa will receive the worst of it. Less rainfall is also likely in mid-latitude and subtropical arid and semi-arid regions. For more information, read "California's Drought Could Continue for Centuries." (9)
Desertification (the process of greener areas turning into deserts) is also caused by the increased long-term heat of global warming. It is aggravated by soil and vegetation loss. Semi-arid and sub-humid areas will likely endure a future of almost irreversible barrenness caused by global warming’s evapotranspiration and the accompanying decrease in rainfall. For more background information, read “95% of Glaciers in Tibetan Plateau Have Receded.” (10)
Fires and wildfires
The potential for more fires of every kind rises dramatically as the heat of escalating global warming turns forests around the world into kindling. Fueled by the ever-increasing, long-term heat drying out the land, the Earth will experience endless wildfires increasing in magnitude and frequency with each degree of temperature increase. For more information, read “Wildfires: A Symptom of Climate Change.” (11)
Jet stream disruption
Shifting jet streams will act to significantly change long-established weather patterns. This is already being witnessed in many areas of the world where the normal rains, snowfall, and seasonal temperatures are becoming more unpredictable and atypical.
In what may sound like a paradox, global warming will also produce cold waves in some areas due to changing location of jet streams and ocean currents. In some areas, winter storms have already become more frequent and intense.
At a 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) increase, the atmospheric circulation of our jet streams is significantly affected. Jet streams commonly found in the mid latitudes are predicted to shift polewards by 1 or 2 degrees latitude in both hemispheres. For more background information or examples, click here to read "'Arctic amplification' to blame for Greenland's ice melt." (12)
Shrinking sea ice and ice shelves
As average global temperature rises, temperatures will rise almost twice as fast in the world’s northernmost and polar regions. Because of this, our ice caps are also melting at an unprecedented rate. For more information, see this video on the disappearance of Arctic sea ice (13) and this visualization of Arctic ice melt over the past 25 years. (14)
If the ice shelves on Greenland and Antarctica melt, sea levels could become more than 10-20 feet higher (3-6 meters) in 2100 than they are today. This would flood low-lying areas such as New York City's Lower Manhattan, Miami, and Bangladesh. This sea level rise would also be perilous for many low-elevation countries and inhabited islands.
Additionally, melting sea ice sheets also disrupt oceanic circulation patterns because they are made of fresh water, and fresh water is less dense than salt water. Because of the impact of melting fresh water on the Atlantic’s meridional overturning circulation pattern, (15) Europe may become colder. (This meridional overturning circulation drives cold saltwater into the deep ocean while drawing warm water up and northward.) As the ocean currents change, they also can contribute to the shifting of jet streams and the altering of normal storm patterns.
As soon as a 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) increase is reached, the extent of Arctic sea ice in September falls by 43% compared to long-term averages. At a 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) increase, the Arctic would be nearly ice-free in summer. This could occur as early as 2035-2050. Rising sea levels will displace up to 350 million people, making the Middle East’s 21st century refugee crisis seem insignificant by comparison. For more information, read “Historical Data Shows Arctic Melt of Last Two Decades is ‘Unprecedented’.” (16)
Shrinking glaciers and snowpack
The glaciers around the world are shrinking because of the increasing heat due to global warming. In the U.S., Montana’s Glacier National Park has deteriorated over the last seven decades from 150 to just 35 glaciers.
With the approaching 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) heat increase, glaciers will decline in global volume by as much as 55%, and snow cover in the northern hemisphere will decrease by 7%. (This excludes those on the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and on Antarctica’s periphery.) At 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) of heat increase, glaciers decline in global volume by as much as 85%, and snow cover in the northern hemisphere decreases by 25%.
Once most of the white sea ice, glaciers, and white snowpack melts, there is another serious consequence lurking in our dark future. The white of the glaciers and the snowpack helps reflect the heat of the sunlight back into space (the albedo effect). This helps to cool the Earth.
But if the glaciers, ice caps, and snowpack melt, the only heat reflector left for sunlight is the ocean. The ocean, unfortunately, is much darker than white ice and snow. Darker colors do not reflect the sunlight’s heat; they absorb it, further warming the Earth in another self-reinforcing loop of ever-increasing heat. For more information, read “Crisis On High.” (17)
Melting tundra and permafrost
The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world. This warming in the far north can create another vicious, self-reinforcing cycle and positive feedback loop. This methane is 25-100 times more powerful as a global-warming greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning.
When considering the methane problem, do not forget that the increasing methane releases from fracking and big agribusiness are dangerous on their own. However, when adding in new methane releases from loss of tundra and permafrost, this multiplying factor of methane versus carbon must once again be factored in. With methane 25 to 100 times more powerful than carbon, rising methane pollution may soon become as problematic as carbon. For more information, see here. (18)
Many areas will become wetter due to global warming. The high latitudes and equatorial Pacific are likely to see more rainfall. Increased regular flooding represents one of the most dangerous risks to us because it destroys our crops, homes, and businesses for great lengths of time, if not permanently.
While our already existing 1.2° Celsius (2.2° Fahrenheit) temperature increase over pre-industrial levels might sound manageable, it alone will raise sea levels by at least 3 feet (0.9 meter). This will flood some of the world’s richest agricultural lands and river deltas—as well as drown entire nations.
Due to seawater salination and intrusion, many rich lands and river deltas will become unusable. For example, in Bangladesh, a 3-foot (0.9 meter) sea level rise will inundate about 15% of the land and threaten more than a million hectares of agricultural production. Additionally, the Mekong River Commission warns that a 3-foot (0.9 meter) sea level rise will wipe out nearly 40% of the Mekong Delta.
Just a 3-foot (0.9 meter) sea level rise will flood one-fourth of the Nile Delta, forcing more than 10% of Egypt’s population (9.3 million people) from their homes. Because nearly half of Egypt’s crops, including wheat, bananas, and rice, are grown in the delta, starvation and malnutrition will accelerate.
The damage caused by just 1° Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) of warming is beyond management and remediation for many nations and peoples. Even this low-level increase will quickly create more failed states among the most vulnerable nations.
For more information on the costs of flooding and sea level rise, see this article on the exponential rise of flooding costs (23) and this article on which areas in the United States will be hit hardest. (24)
Rising sea levels
Rising sea levels are caused by factors such as the polar ice caps and glaciers melting, as well as thermal expansion. Thermal expansion occurs when global warming warms the seas. Because warmer water expands and takes up more space than cooler water, the sea’s surface level rises.
Of the three causes of rising sea levels, the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers represents the greatest threat. The National Snow and Ice Data Center says that if all glaciers melted today (about 5,773,000 cubic miles of water in ice caps, glaciers, and permanent snow), the seas would steadily rise about 230 feet (70 meters) over a period of several centuries or less. (25)
On a considerably shorter time scale, a recent study by a team working with James Hansen (the scientist who first warned us about global warming 30 years ago) says that by 2050 we could see up to 10 feet (3 meters) of sea level rise. (26) This well-respected new study contradicts the 3-foot (.09 meters) maximum sea level rise by 2100 that was previously predicted by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change (IPCC). (27)
Rising sea levels will create huge new costs and necessitate the complete relocation of water and sewage treatment plants, refineries, electric, nuclear, and fossil fuel power stations, toxic chemical storage sites, hospitals, homes, and other businesses and institutions located near or at sea level. Low-lying or coastal communities will suffer unbearable costs (28) as well as the threat of complete destruction as the sea levels continue to rise steadily.
With the approaching 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) heat increase, 30 million people will be affected by flooding and sea level rise each year. At 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) of heat increase, about 60 million people a year will be affected. At 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) of heat increase, about 120 million people a year will be affected. To read how this will affect future generations, read this article on accelerating sea level rise. (29)
Toxic air pollution
When we burn fossil fuels we create smog and soot, which is commonly known as air pollution. Some fossil fuel burning—especially coal burning—also releases toxic heavy metals, radiation, and other chemical toxins. Of the fossil fuels, coal is also the largest single source of airborne mercury poisoning.
Air pollution is the one consequence of global warming that often gets the least attention, yet in many ways it has the most impact on a personal level. This is because air pollution from fossil fuel burning is a slow and invisible cause of painful respiratory disease and death. It is also responsible for aggravating many other diseases.
Directly or indirectly, air pollution causes approximately 11 to 13% (about 1 in 8) of all deaths globally each year. According to a recent World Health Organization survey, 40 percent of deaths linked to outdoor air pollution are from heart disease; another 40 percent from stroke; 11 percent from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); 6 percent from lung cancer, (30) and 3 percent from acute lower respiratory infections in children.
China has the most air pollution fatalities with nearly 1.4 million deaths a year. India has 645,000 and Pakistan has 110,000. To put this in perspective, air pollution kills more people each year than malaria and AIDS combined!
Because air pollution supports weed growth, it is also a major accelerator of allergy attacks. It has been directly linked to asthma. Within the past 20 years, there has been an observed doubling of pediatric asthma prevalence.
Air pollution also exacerbates pre-existing health conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Air pollution from fossil fuel burning also dramatically increases national and international health costs, and the burden for those increased health costs falls squarely upon individual taxpayers. Paul Epstein, with the Harvard School of Public Health, found that the hidden costs of burning fossil fuel coal in the U.S. alone to be $345 billion per year!
They calculated these costs based on public health impacts, pollution, toxic waste, and climate disruptions to people’s normal lives and work. When you consider the costs of air pollution the coal industry is currently dumping onto the public without consequence, there is no offsetting net value in the electricity the coal provides!
If global warming and pollution caused by fossil fuel burning did nothing more than kill millions of people every year, that alone would make fossil fuel use a completely untenable energy generation source. Unfortunately, it does much more damage, as our continued exploration of the consequences of global warming will show. For more information, read this article on countries hit hardest by air pollution (31) and this article on the biggest threats to humanity. (32)
Less food, less water, costing more
The food consequences of escalating global warming are high and could quickly result in chaos in the world food economy. A Stanford University study analyzed the historical relationship between temperature and corn yields from 600 U.S. counties. The report concluded that each 1° Celsius (1.8° Fahrenheit) rise in temperature above the growing-season norm dropped yields 17%.
Rice, wheat, and the world’s other food staples are also vulnerable to global warming’s higher temperatures. With each degree of temperature rise and the consequent crop-withering heat waves, food prices will be driven up to unprecedented levels.
This will also cause shrinking harvests, malnutrition, starvation, and famine, which will increase disease, death, and conflict. As food prices and shortages grow, economically or politically unstable countries will descend into chaos. Nations that still retain good water and food resources will probably be unwilling to share these vital commodities or accept the tens or hundreds of millions of “climagees” (climate refugees) who will desperately be seeking new homes.
“The Syrian conflict was preceded by the worst long-term drought and crop failures since civilization began in the region, resulting in 800,000 people losing their livelihoods by 2009, and 2-3 million being driven into extreme poverty.” (From Climate Reality Check by David Spratt.) (33)
The Syrian drought initially triggered a migration of about 1,500,000+ climagees into Europe. Europe as a whole is struggling to deal with them. The Syrian and other Middle Eastern drought climagees are only a tiny preview of the migration tidal wave that is coming.
With the approaching 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) of temperature increase, 1.5 billion people will be exposed to increased water stress. At 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) of temperature increase, there will be significant negative consequences on production of major crops including corn, rice, and wheat. In temperate and tropical regions, 1.75 billion people will be exposed to increased water stress, and there will be 5.7 million square kilometers (2.2 million square miles) of cropland decline. For more information on water stress, see this article on which areas will be hit hardest (34) and this article on worsening water pollution. (35)
At a 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) increase, it will be hot and humid enough for parts of the year in some areas to compromise day-to-day human work activities such as working outdoors or growing food. At a 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) increase, about 2 billion people will be exposed to increased water stress, and 7.6 million km² (2.9 million mi²) of cropland will decline. By the end of the century, some states in the U.S. Midwest, Southeast, and lower Great Plains risk up to a 70 percent loss in average annual crop yields.
Spreading of diseases and and pandemics
Increased heat from global warming in the atmosphere will spread more tropical diseases (19) to northern and southern areas as well as higher altitudes where they have never been before—and where most of the population has no immunity. These are tropical diseases like West Nile Disease, Zika, Rift Valley Fever, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Cryptococcus Gattii Fungus, and Chagas Disease, all of which are rapidly moving north and appearing in the news on a regular basis.
Tropical diseases rapidly spreading north and south are due to migrating humans, animals, and insects trying to escape their heat and/or water-stressed ecosystems. Other diseases likely to spread due to global warming are avian flu, cholera, plague, ebola, and tuberculosis.
There are also many infectious organisms stored in ancient sea ice and glaciers that will be released into the water system as this ice melts. (20) These may be infections for which we currently have no antibodies or medicines. Spreading diseases, both old and new, can also set the stage for global pandemics. For more information, see this warning from the White House.
Increased water vapor
For every 0.6° Celsius (1.08° Fahrenheit) rise in average global temperature, the atmosphere’s capacity to hold water vapor grows by 4%. This means as global warming and water vapor increases, storms will pour forth at greater and greater magnitude.
Water vapor in the atmosphere increases every time more heat evaporates from standing water in rivers, oceans, and lakes. We are already seeing unusually heavy rains occurring at times never encountered before. More than 170 extreme weather events struck America between 1980 and 2014, disrupting daily life. Extreme weather events are defined as weather at the extremes of the historical distribution or within the most unusual 10 percent in that location's recorded weather history. Extreme weather by definition is unusual, severe or unseasonal—events often thought of as close to or beyond hundred-year storm records. Eventually, increasing water vapor will become the largest indirect human-caused factor increasing global warming.
Global warming’s increasing atmospheric heat energy, along with the increased water vapor, is also available for use in and by the planet's other weather systems. In particular, warmer waters are causing more hurricanes and cyclones. Global warming creates warmer ocean water, which again leads to greater evaporation. This helps to not just “prime” the creation of hurricanes and cyclones, but also to maintain their strength once they form. The destructive power of hurricanes has increased by roughly 50% in the last 30 years, a time frame closely aligned with the rising temperature of the oceans caused by global warming. For more information, read this article on 2016’s Hurricane Matthew. (22)
Mass climagee migrations
The previously mentioned worsening global warming conditions combined with dwindling resources will lead not only to the massive migration of animals and insects, but also to massive waves of global warming and climate destabilization-driven human migration. These individuals will be the new climagees.
Millions will migrate at a 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) temperature increase, hundreds of millions at a 4 degrees increase, and eventually billions of climagees will be desperately on the move as we approach a 5°-6° Celsius (9°-10.8° Fahrenheit) temperature increase. They will seek out already overcrowded urban areas in the northernmost countries of the world.
These mass migrations will cost nations more of their resources and cause continual increases in citizen taxes to deal with the ever-growing influxes of new climagees. The northernmost nations will face a compassion dilemma. The more climagees they allow in and support, the more will come in a self-reinforcing cycle that will further diminish emergency resources and budgets for both their own population and the other newly arriving climagees.
Problems with cultural integration will also cause fear and tensions with the nation’s existing citizens. Growing tensions between the indigenous national citizens and the new climagees have already resulted in nationalist backlashes all over Europe.
Today, global warming-related migrations are only in their earliest stages. As the climagee migration pressure continues to increase, tensions will also arise among the wealthy northern countries that do not do their fair share and allow entry for as many climagees as other wealthy northern countries allow. The growing tensions of climagee migration into vulnerable areas and nations will also likely lead to more conflicts. For more information, read this article on an Alaskan community (36) and this article on a Louisiana community (37) forced to migrate due to flooding.
Conflict and wars
An ecological crisis such as global warming and violence are inextricably entangled. Nations suffering from climate catastrophes, food shortages and/or crop failure, water shortages, or mass migrations become highly vulnerable to security challenges, including regional panic, instability, and aggression. In another deadly self-reinforcing positive feedback loop, diminished quantities of food, water, and arable land invariably further increase mass migrations, global security threats, conflicts, and war.
Escalating global warming started out as an ecological threat. It has now become the world’s greatest security threat and threat multiplier. Over time, one of the most costly consequences of escalating global warming will be the conflicts and wars it will create, intensify, or prolong. As these global warming-induced migration, resource, and land conflicts expand or worsen, they can quickly escalate from conventional weapons and warfare to small-scale tactical nuclear weapons—possibly even full-scale nuclear war. For more information on the increasing tensions of armed conflict and global warming, read this article.
Ocean acidification and marine death
The oceans absorb roughly 30% of all human-caused carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
As global warming increases average temperature, the process of absorbing carbon dioxide increases both the average ocean temperature as well as the acidification of the oceans. (38) (Acidification is simply the ocean becoming more acidic from the absorbed carbon, creating carbonic acid.)
The reproductive cycles in many ocean species will be dramatically harmed by the combination of warmer oceans and ocean acidification. A strong connection has already been observed between ocean warming and increases in mortality rates, as well as declines in reproduction among seals, sea lions, and seabirds. The shells of most crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, mussels, clams) are destroyed as acidification increases in the oceans. Because of this escalating ocean warming and ocean acidification, ocean fish food stocks will be dramatically reduced beyond their current threatened levels and remaining ocean fish food stocks will increase in price.
At a 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) increase, the oceans become more acidic with the surface ocean pH decreasing by 15-17%. (pH is a numeric scale used to specify the acidity or basicity [alkalinity] of a solution.) At a 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) increase, ocean acidification is much greater, with surface ocean pH decreasing up to 62%. At a 4° Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) increase, ocean acidification accelerates hugely, with surface ocean pH decreasing up to 109%. For more information on ocean acidification, read this article about its effects on the Atlantic ocean (39) and this article on how it is already affecting phytoplankton. (40)
Loss of breathable air from phytoplankton
Ocean phytoplankton create oxygen that rises into our atmosphere and creates breathable air. Ocean phytoplankton are responsible for up to 50 to 80% of all the oxygen we breathe! One of the most critical longer-term consequences of ocean warming and ocean acidification is the reduction of ocean phytoplankton. These are living microalgae are also indispensable to the ocean’s marine food cycle.
A study published in the Bulletin of Mathematical Biology calculated how unrestrained global warming could affect phytoplankton and thus the ocean’s ability to generate breathable air. Their computer models looked at what would happen to phytoplankton’s ability to photosynthesize at different temperatures. According to the Bulletin study, if global emissions continue unabated, and if the world’s oceans warmed (41) by 6° Celsius (10.8° Fahrenheit), the phytoplankton would halt oxygen production! What this means is that if we cross over the 6° Celsius global warming tipping point, the oceans will stop producing breathable oxygen and we will run out of breathable air. (42)
Destruction of ecosystems
Many of the world’s critical ecosystems face catastrophic degradation due to the increasing heat of escalating global warming. As coral reefs bleach, deserts expand, soils become unproductive, and the oceans warm, we will lose the critical productivity of the ecosystems we depend upon for food and other critical resources we and other lifeforms need.
Loss of biodiversity
As our ecosystems degrade with escalating global warming, current animal habitats become inhospitable to increasing numbers of insect, aquatic, and other animal species. For example, animals that are entirely dependent on colder or cold ecosystems will move to more northerly ecosystems. This animal migration will lead to competitive encroachment upon other ecosystems and the possible displacement or elimination of other animals from their natural colder habitats.
If average temperatures rise more than 1.1° to 6.4° Celsius (2°-11.5° Fahrenheit), as much as 30 percent of all plant and animal species alive today risk extinction by or before 2050. Some biologists have already stated we are experiencing what is being called the beginning of the Sixth Great Extinction Event. (43)
As animal habitats degrade or are lost, animals will be forced to migrate to new areas. In these new habitats, they often come into contact with humans. This in turn leads to an increase in animal attacks. For instance, we are already seeing this happen with bears when residential development encroaches on urban-forest interfaces.
At a 2° Celsius (3.6° Fahrenheit) increase, many species and ecosystems with limited ability to adapt to higher temperatures will be subject to very high risks. At a 3° Celsius (5.4° Fahrenheit) increase, most small mammals without high ground to escape to will not be able to keep up with the rate of climate change. At a 4°Celsius (7.2° Fahrenheit) increase, wildlife and ecosystems will be hit by severe and widespread impacts, with substantial numbers of species going extinct.
Increased volcanic activity
The shifting weights of melting glaciers over the planet’s surface can initiate episodes of volcanic activity. Sustained large-scale volcanic activity can have a catastrophic effect on human life. If the volcano is large enough, such as with a supervolcano, the eruption could actually cool the planet and create two or three years of nuclear winter. Such a development creates its own extinction-level destruction in the form of severe negative impacts on agriculture and other living systems.
Glacial ice sheets apply massive pressure to the surface beneath them. As glaciers melt from global warming, their massive weight decreases—lessening the total weight over the tectonic plates below them. As the tectonic plates move and shift, this unweighting can lead to volcanic activity and earthquakes. Whenever these tectonic plates move significantly, they are also capable of creating deadly tsunamis.
Methane time bomb, and key extinction event probability
In addition to the many consequences listed above, there is one additional consequence that could rapidly turn into a mass extinction event. See more about this and the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) extinction event click here.
This theory suggests that a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop between permafrost-melting methane emissions and warming of methane clathrate crystals on the bottom of the ocean created a massive and rapid global warming temperature surge. As the ocean temperatures rose, gigatons of frozen methane hydrate crystals trapped along the continental shelves of our oceans thawed. This caused a sudden and dramatic release of carbon into the atmosphere (from melted methane hydrate crystals.) This caused another sudden heat increase. As a result, roughly 70 percent of all life on the planet was killed off.
An extinction event of this scale happening today would decimate populations so completely that either there would be no survivors or there might be as few as 200 million surviving close to the poles. The onset of this PETM extinction event has been linked to an initial 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit and about carbon 600 ppm) temperature increase and extreme changes in Earth's carbon-eating and carbon-releasing cycles. To read more about how today’s carbon levels mimic those from about 56 million years ago, read this article. (44)
How the collective consequences of global warming will unfold to destabilize the climate as well as human and biological systems
Far beyond what we generally understand to be the painful individual consequences of global warming that are listed above is global warming’s effect on the overall global climate as well as the ensuing destabilization it causes within our human and biological systems. This is what takes place when many of the global warming consequences continue to increase in magnitude, as well as interact with each other in an accelerating and multiplying way as a whole system.
To further break down what this means, know that as global warming consequences unfold at greater magnitude, the climate destabilizes, which then destabilizes everything else dependent on the climate. To see how this process unfolds, see the illustration below.
With each degree of increased temperature, our weather will become considerably more unpredictable and violent. An exact year time frame of when many of the worst global warming consequences mentioned above will occur is still being researched. How global warming will unfold as a process is much better established.
With each degree of increased temperature, global warming’s destabilization consequences will almost always increase in their severity, scope of affected areas, and frequency. Global warming consequences in terms of climate, human, and biological systems such as floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, economic recessions or depressions, spread of disease, species die-offs, seasonal disruptions, and catastrophic superstorms will unfold irregularly.
As most of the world warms, a few places will get colder. Seasons will not feel like they used to anymore. Monsoons will be too short and come at the wrong time. Winters will last too long or springs will come too early. Winter snows or monsoon moisture will run off long before it can be captured in properly positioned reservoirs for spring and summer use by our farmers. Crops will fail and people will starve and migrate.
As more critical global warming tipping points are crossed, there will be sudden, more extreme and larger-scale chains of negative weather, human, and biological system consequences will be drastically greater than ever before experienced.
Our normal day-to-day lives will experience more unpleasant changes such as less spendable money in our budgets, more volatility and instability In our physical environments, and less future planning predictability. (Note: Global warming “tipping points” are explained here.)
Eventually, the exponential growth of carbon and methane pollution in the atmosphere will cause the dynamic climate balance that has existed for hundreds of thousands of years to destabilize and collapse into some new unknown state. The normal cycle of glacial and non-glacial periods may never return as they were.
If this happens, the new climate conditions may no longer be suitable for human life as it is now. If the climate collapses and destabilizes to a new condition unsuitable for maintaining almost eight billion human beings, war and conflict will escalate radically in the fight for scarce remaining resources, and martial law will be quickly imposed in every climate-stressed nation. This would unfortunately cancel out centuries of hard-won, traditional protections of civil rights.
As the escalating individual consequences of global warming tumble further into human and biological systems we will face many costly and painful catastrophes within those systems (economics, politics, pandemics, mass species die-offs, etc.). When this happens, consequences will be multiplied and we will have created what is properly called the perfect storm of perfect storms, which is described in the later phases of the Climageddon Scenario.
A positive vaccination to all the bad news
Overcoming the global warming emergency will force us to grow in maturity as one human global society
How we collectively face the adaptive challenge of the escalating global warming emergency may become humanity's greatest evolutionary teacher to date, producing unforeseen benefits, as well as severe consequences. It's not the disasters of global warming that are beneficial, of course.
What’s positive is the potential innovation, cooperation, and community building we will have to develop in order to overcome these unfolding disasters. This will, when achieved, directly expand our evolutionary maturity as a global society.
- Global warming started out as an environmental problem. It has now evolved into the world’s largest, continually escalating economic and security problem.
- Our air pollution caused by fossil fuel burning has been linked to autism, learning disabilities, and developmental problems in brains and lungs in babies and children.
- The continuously rising costs of escalating global warming act like a gaping hole in the bottom of a bathtub, draining our resources. By 2100 we may be spending one-third of our whole global GDP—about $100 trillion a year—just to cope with global warming disasters.
- Most of the consequences of global warming are interconnected and interdependent. Understanding the relationships of these consequences and how their processes affect each other as well as how they affect the overall climate, and human and biological systems is essential to understanding the nearly unimaginable destructiveness inherent within the now unfolding Climageddon Scenario.
- The escalating consequences of global warming are grossly unfair to millennials and today’s younger generations in particular. If escalating global warming continues as it is now, they are robbed of any legitimate economic or survival optimism concerning the future.
- Our situation has many similarities to the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum extinction event—a massive methane release that occurred 55 million years ago and killed roughly 70% of all life on the planet. We could face a similar event once we reach a 5° Celsius (9° Fahrenheit) temperature increase.
- Once temperatures surpass a 6° Celsius (10.8° Fahrenheit) increase, the ocean phytoplankton responsible for producing 50-80% of the atmosphere’s breathable air will halt oxygen production and we will run out of breathable air.
- Knowing the global warming consequences and how they are unfolding will serve as critical warning signs about the future quality of your life and future.
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