Global warming is pushing more and more people to leave their homes: “We probably have to move”
This emerges from a new analysisunder Dutch direction, in a specialized magazine Natural durability. In the Netherlands Antilles, for example, it will be almost unbearable at the end of this century, according to the new study carried out, among others, by the ecologist from Wageningen Marten Scheffer. Almost everywhere on the islands, the average annual temperature will then be above 29 degrees, a temperature at which few human communities can maintain themselves historically.
Compare the human population to the average annual temperature, and surprisingly most people live at around 13 degrees and around 27 degrees, Scheffer explained. naked a few years ago. Apparently, this is the temperature at which companies operate best: around 20 degrees seems too dry, around 27 degrees is in areas with monsoon rains. “Surprising, because you don’t really expect such a model in the modern age, in which we have developed technologically,” says Scheffer. “It probably has to do with something fundamental.”
‘An air conditioner for everyone in Congo’
Much hotter or colder, and agricultural crops grow less well, the soil dries up, livestock suffer and people tend to move to better areas, Scheffer assumes. But global warming is driving more and more people from their homes – a fate that already affects some 600 million people, he calculates with colleagues from Britain and China, among others.
Continue this trend and by the end of this century, one in three people in the world will soon be living in a place that is no longer optimal. That is with a warming of 2.7 degrees – we are now at 1.2 degrees. Even if we manage to keep the temperature below the internationally agreed 2 degrees, 10% of the world’s population will have to survive at 29 degrees or more. “If you assume that everyone in Congo uses an air conditioner and no longer needs to go out, that’s fine,” Scheffer scoffs. He just wants to say: “There are no possibilities of adaptation everywhere.
The ideal living environment is changing
In Scandinavia, Central Europe and North America, among other places – and in the Netherlands – living conditions are now becoming more favorable. “It is not true that the planet will become uninhabitable,” Scheffer points out. “The ideal environment for man is changing. This also happens in other species, such as birds or plants. And we also see it in the way people move away from ice ages.
Not too dark, replies publicist Ralf Bodelier, who recently wrote a book about human demographic future. “I also think we should try to reduce CO2significantly reduce emissions. But a survey like this frightens us more than probably necessary,” he says after reviewing the search results. “Research seems to assume that we cannot adapt. But people also live around the equator and the Arctic Circle. It is not for nothing that we invented clothing, fire, insulation materials, central heating and air conditioners.
Moreover, a diploma more or less will not really make a difference, expects Bodelier. “Happiness research shows that people in the cold US state of Minnesota, with an average temperature of 5.4 degrees, are about as happy as in an otherwise comparable state like New Jersey, with 13, 3 degrees Celsius.”
To survive is not to thrive
But Scheffer points to, among other things, research that shows that the economy of the 166 countries studied performs at its best in exactly the years when the average annual temperature around the ideal value of 13 or 27 degrees. “Being able to stay alive is different from thriving,” he says. “People also live on the International Space Station. But if you look at the mass of humanity, the possibilities are more limited.
Scheffers’ group already published two years ago raw study results. But the new study is much more detailed: with 2.7 degrees of warming, Mali, Burkina Faso, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will almost entirely exceed the critical limit of 29 degrees on average. In India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia, a large part of the population is in difficulty.
A cost of global warming still underestimated, according to Scheffer. “We always talk about the cost of a ton of CO2, but perhaps more important is the cost of the impact on people. Already, an American’s lifetime emissions almost force a person in the southern hemisphere to move,” he calculated.
This raises questions about, among other things, climate damage compensation for poorer countries, and how many claims economic refugees from the south can make for shelter in the wealthy west, Scheffer thinks. “If you see it that way, you can ask all kinds of justice questions in a different way. We’ll probably have to move people.
– Every 0.1 degrees of warming will bring about 140 million more people into contact with an average annual temperature above the critical limit of 29 degrees: a group as large as all of Russia’s inhabitants.
– In the 1960s, about 10 million people lived in places where the average annual temperature was 29 degrees. Due to population growth and climate change, there are now 60 million, or as many as all Italians.
– With an average global warming of 2.7 degrees, around 2 billion people will be exposed to extreme heat by the end of this century. At 1.5 degrees of warming, this represents “only” 450 million people, or 5% of humanity then expected.
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