The Long Term Outlook for Climate Sustainability

The Long Term Outlook for Climate Sustainability

I have learned not to panic over the US setback on fighting climate change. This fight will have to go on forever, and most all of it after I am gone. So I need some peace of mind now.

We are all aware that some of the CO2 pollution that we generate NOW will remain in the atmosphere driving climate forcing for on the order of a hundred years.

It is fortunate that Democratic states, and Democratic large cities, including many in Republican states, are committing themselves to carry out the Paris Agreement goals.

While Trump can stop some progress, the green energy rules have already been established after long studies by President Obama’s talented and scientifically driven administration.They can be revived in three years when Trump’s destructive reign is over. The people being deposed may still be available for public service for a quick restart.

Thinking long term, we want much progress by 2050, but certainly total global sustainability by 2100. We expect enormous technical discoveries and progress in areas of digital energy management, communications, solar and wind energy efficiency, battery storage, nuclear technology, self driving and sustainable automobiles, transportation systems, building conservation, new and cleaner building materials, and in even yet unknown areas.

With US Presidential elections every four years, in the 32 years from 2020 to 2052, we will go through 8 more Presidential terms. It is unthinkable that the public will not be well informed and pursuing sustainable goals through most of this period. It will dawn on the well-to-do that they are the ones who own the beachside property that is being inundated, or they live near the beach and even their expensive housing values are at risk if the beach gets destroyed. Even Trump is trying to build a seawall to protect one of his golf courses. Even if people don’t understand the physics of increased storms, the insurance companies do, and people will see their rates go up. It’s the well-off who will see their taxes raised to insure and pay for rebuilt cities.

By the year 2100, we will go through 80 years and 20 more Presidential terms. Of the four-year US climate reports, there will be 20 more of them. With increased research on causes and effects, with quantum computers of incredible power for modeling, with decades of more weather and climate change data, and with increased satellite observations, the understanding of climate change will greatly increase. The science will be more comprehensive and more accurate. The dangers of runaway processes or critical points like possible permafrost melting will be understood and warned about. Droughts may become predictable and well prepared for.

There may be great progress in adapting, such as defenses from mosquitos and pine bark beetles. Conversion back to flood protecting wetlands, as well as barriers will be installed.

If geoengineering becomes necessary, it will be well studied and predictable. Compromises of effects will have to be worked out between affected countries.

With complete internet availability, everyone will become educated in the subjects of their interest. Everybody can contribute in ways that they are uniquely valuable. Rote work will be taken care of by cheap and incredibly capable robotics. The interdependence of all peoples in maintaining world health and in using the capabilities of all will be appreciated. The necessity of having a sustainable world for the benefit of all will be realized, as is already understood by all countries through the Paris Climate Agreement.


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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