Friday, January 1, 2010
"Will Japan Be Around in the Year 2500?"
"Will Japan Be Around in the Year 2500?"
Asks American climate activist Danny Bloom
Two recent newspaper articles about climate change in the far distant
future, say 2500 or so, (titled, respectively, “How much more proof is
needed for people to act?” and “Ignoring the future — the psychology
of denial”) emphasized the importance of facing major issues that will
have an impact on the future of the human species.
Climate change is indeed an issue that is on everyone’s mind, and
while Israel seems to be far removed from the experts who recently
made their way to Copenhagen to try to hammer out blueprints to
prevent global warming from having a Doomsday impact on humankind,
The Japanese people will also be on the front lines of these issues. Why? Because
Japan will not exist as a country by the year 2500. Everyone there
will have migrated north to Russia and Alaska.
Despite most observers’ belief that solutions lie in mitigation, there
are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who believe that
the A-word — adaptation — must be confronted head-on, too. The fact is
— despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of denialists like former
Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin in the US — that we cannot stop climate
change or global warming. The Earth’s atmosphere has already passed
the tipping point, and in the next 500 years, temperatures and sea
levels will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people
from the tropical and temperate zones will be forced to migrate in
search of food, fuel and shelter. This includes the people of Israel.
By the year 2500, all the islands of Japan will be largely uninhabited, except for a few
stragglers eking out a subsistence life in Hokkaido's mountains. The rest
of the population will have migrated north to Russia’s northern coast
or northern parts of Alaska and Canada to find safe harbor from the
devastating impact of global warming.
Okay, how do I know all this, you ask? I don't know. I am just saying
that we all must be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
By the year 2500, most likely, Japanese people en masse will have left the
country for faraway northern regions to find shelter in UN-funded
climate refuges in places such as Russia, Canada and Alaska. Israeli
climate refugees will join millions of others from India, Vietnam,
Thailand and the Philippines. It won’t be a pretty picture.
When I asked a professor at National Taiwan University in Taipei if
this was a possible future scenario for Japan and other nations in
Asia some 500 years from now, he said it was very possible,
and that these issues needed to be addressed now, if only as a thought
exercise, and even if it all sounded like a science fiction movie
script. When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if
such a scenario for Japan was likely, he said to me in an e-mail: “It
may very well happen, yes.”
We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although
scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered theories on how
to do it. There are no easy fixes. Humankind has pumped too many
greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the industrial
revolution that gave us trains, planes, automobiles and much more,
enabling us to live comfortable and trendy lives — and now there is so
much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot recover.
Japan, like the rest of the world, is doomed to a bleak future full
of billions of climate refugees seeking shelter in the far north, and
in places like New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica in the far south.
Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro and at the UN in Manhattan
will not stop global warming.
What we need to focus on now is preparing future generations for what
our world will become in the next 500 years and how best to survive
For the next 100 to 200 years or so, life will go on as normal in
the Japanese archipelago in terms of climate change and global warming issues. There is
nothing to worry about now. For the next 100 years posh department
stores in Tokyo and Osaka will hawk their trendy items, Japanese computer firms will launch their
latest gadgets and the nation's airline companies will continue to offer passengers
quick passage here and there, to the Maldives and to Manhattan, for
business and for pleasure.
But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and other scientists
who are not afraid to think outside the box and push the envelope,
things are going to get bad. Unspeakably bad.
Those of us who are alive today won’t suffer, and the next few
generations will be fine, too. The big trouble will probably start
around 2200 — and last for some 300 years or so.
By 2500, the nation of Japan will be history, as will all the nations of Asia,
Africa, the Americas and Europe.
We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the
temperatures go up, future generations will have some important
choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow food, how to
power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and how to pray.
Danny Bloom is a writer based in Taiwan where he blogs daily
about climate change and global warming at his "Northwardho" blog.
Posted by DANIELBLOOM at 4:31 AM