The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Future

January 1, 2011 • Climate Change & Mitigation, Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Fred Stanback for this article.

By the end of this decade we will know how harshly history will judge us. If we want to spare our descendants the worst effects of global warming, the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases will have to peak before 2020 and start declining thereafter. Tragically, we’re almost certain to miss that fateful deadline. At the December 2009 United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen, delegates from 192 nations failed to produce any legally binding agreement to reduce emissions. Blinded by ideology, willful ignorance, or perhaps simple selfishness, we’re tumbling headlong into a new era. Paul Crutzen, a Nobel laureate at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, calls it the Anthropocene, from the Greek words for “man” and “recent,” to reflect the epochal impact human activities now have on the earth’s climate. So perhaps it’s a sign of the times when books start to appear that focus not on preventing or minimizing global warming but on how civilization might adapt to temperatures that probably have not existed on the planet for millennia.

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