It’s pretty well accepted that the global climate will not only become warmer overall but that in many places, climate will be more extreme and erratic. So: floods one year, drought the next 5 years. Yes – we must do what we can to mitigate global warming – but it’s likely that unpredictable and extreme weather will still be part of the forecast. What can be done? As conditions worsen, I would expect considerable migration from the South to the North. Given that the decline of human population is projected to start by 2050 or so and be in full force by 2100, the in-migration to the North will likely be manageable, provided governments don’t get too xenophobic. Also, given that advanced non-agrarian societies have lower birth rates, the move to the North will quicken the population decline (a virtuous cycle). Northern US, Canada, and Russia will probably benefit from the influx.
Water supplies and agriculture would suffer the greatest impact. As climate becomes less predictable, we’ll have to develop ways to better conserve, store, and transport water during years of favorable weather to soften the impact of the bad years. More reservoirs and canals would help, as would the development of crops that need less water and use water more efficiently. We would also need to continue the development of increasingly resilient crops able to thrive in variable conditions and continue to improve intensive sustainable farming practices.
Between population decline, intensification ofagriculture, and increased urbanization, wild habitat will spread. However, some species will not be able to adapt to climate change within their traditional habitat, so we will need to insure that habitats are large enough to accommodate the migration of floral and fauna to take advantage of shifting microclimates and resources. We will also have to act as stewards of these habitats to both facilitate migration and maintain resources. This may involve the controlled introduction of more resilient food sources in some areas, or intermittent periods of more direct management, such as feeding stations.
And for some species, we’ll need to expand seed banks and create breeding compounds to maintain sufficient genetic integrity to ride out the storm and be returned to the wild at some later date. Yes, that could be for hundreds of years. But, you know, I keep hearing that artificial intelligence and robots are going to make most work obsolete – so it’s not like humans will be too busy to help out. Time to roll up our sleeves.