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
it.

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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

"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."

Great empirical science comment there!

Seek Help!

dan said...

anon above, at least ID yourself when you ask about my shrink! SMILE

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

JAPAN TODAY runs this:

http://www.japantoday.com/category/commentary/view/will-japan-be-around-in-the-year-2500

13 Comments so far, more to come as debate heates up?

lunchmeat at 08:30 AM JST - 5th January

I saw a similar article on this very subject date, oh, 500 years ago.

“Northwardho”

(cough) Such language.


dammit at 08:36 AM JST - 5th January

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.”

I wonder what came next in this e-mail. I'm sure I'll never know, but I'd bet it began with "but".

Anyway, maybe he'll be right. But Japan is a very mountainous country and the sea would have to rise an unbelievable amount to do more than make Japan a string of lots of smaller islands. Yes, people would have to leave much of the lower-lying land, but as the birthrate is dwindling maybe even that won't be necessary.

My home country is sinking slowly anyway, the south of Britain is gradually disappearing into the sea. Add a couple of metres of rising seas and potentially more than half the country could sink. I wouldn't be surprised if that was in the e-mail too.


pawatan at 08:59 AM JST - 5th January

OK, here's some thinking outside the box. Imagine in 500 years everyone has realized that mainstream science has gone the way of mainstream politics, consensus and poll driven, 'deniers' shunned from polite society. But imagine if that consensus was wrong? Of course nobody can say it is or isn't but such a dramatic worst-case scenario demands thinking outside the box.

What if the 'scientific community' doesn't know everything with 100% certainty? What if the earth isn't horribly hotter, what if it's somewhat the same, or horribly cooler? What if - gasp! - mass-media reporters and a handful of scientists are wrong?

More to the point, is there any content in this article? Or is it "hey, if Japan is uninhabitable in 500 years - how, I dunno, but if it is - life will be different, ne? And while I'm at it, I'll put the prediction so far in the future to have no chance of anyone pointing out I am incorrect?" Why not talk about the climate in 52,732? I'm sure there are long range models for that, too.


davestrousers at 09:55 AM JST - 5th January

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.

So the author is saying "There is no way to do it, but there are theories about how to do it". Ridiculous!

The level of technological development achievable by human beings is by far the greatest unknown variable when making predictions on a scale of 500 years, and after all, necessity has and always will be the mother of invention.


cadmium at 09:55 AM JST - 5th January

To suggest that most of the country will migrate to Alaska or Russia is preposterous. We have airplanes and ships that can take people anywhere in the world. They make it sound as if people will just go to the nearest place, in which case why didn't they mention Korea?


kirakira25 at 10:01 AM JST - 5th January

I don`t think this author is any kind of scientist or expert, more of an activist it seems.

But my instant reaction to the title was 2500???! Japan will be long gone way before then and it`ll have nothing to do with climate change...


sydenham at 10:10 AM JST - 5th January

I'm more worried about Indo-Pak relations after reading that Scientific American article about the potential fallout of a nuclear war...

Anonymous said...

perspective at 10:18 AM JST - 5th January

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.

See italicized portion. What an incredibly stupid article.


jinjapan at 10:50 AM JST - 5th January

i, for one, couldn't care less as i have at max, 50 years left here.


bobobolinski at 10:51 AM JST - 5th January

Wrong, wrong, wrong. This article is so full of errors, based principally on its ludicrous premise of climate change taking place over a 500-year period. The author says that Japan has nothing to worry about for the next 100 to 200 years - wrong. Climate change is happening now, and to take the author's principal example, mass migration is happening now, and will most likely increase enormously over the next thirty to forty years. James Lovelock has said very little about the prospect for 2500; what he has said is that 80% of the human population could die out by 2100. That is change we, and our children and grandchildren could see, not some fantasy of a distant future.


DenDon at 11:17 AM JST - 5th January

climate change is an undeniable fact. 500 years later there will be very little recognisable of anything I'd imagine, not much we can do about that.


Sarge at 11:22 AM JST - 5th January

"not much we can do about that"

Then why all this CO2 emissions cutting?


tkoind2 at 11:46 AM JST - 5th January

Just one easy question.

Why take the chance?

Think about it people. If there is a chance that we are warming the planet, then why not take steps to reduce our impact?

Look at it this way.

Money: Some say the impact of taking precautions will harm business. Well I say you are not forward thinking and should not be in business anyway if that is your thinking. Why? Because there are massive opportunities to be had in making sustainable products and in services to reduce environmental impact. Not to mention the whole world of alternative fuel and energy development.

An ounce of precaution: Didn't your parents teach you that a small effort of prevention will save you a large effort of problem solving later? It is cheaper, easier and better common sense thinking to take precautions. So instead of pointing fingers at each other, why not work to make the planet safer just in case?

What if you are wrong? If you deny climate change and you are wrong then what? History shows us again and again that humans like to follow what they believe is right and not necessarily what it right. Would it kill you to try to take this seriously and live a little better with less impact? What would it hurt? And think about the benefits for the environment beyond the whole warming topic. Not to mention just being a better custodian of the planet.

What if you are right? Well, you can dance around and say "I told you so" in a safer, cleaner and more sustainable world. Now doesn't that sound good?

Basic point! This is too risky a topic to sit around debating when we should just use good judgement and decide to take better care of the world no matter what the warming risks are. It makes sense for business, for consumers and for our kids if we do this. So stop this childish bickering and get on with taking better care of the planet!!!!!!


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