Every year, we are confronted with new facts and scenarios emerging out of climate change and global warming, each more terrifying and apocalyptic than the last.
In fact, several well-known scientists and tech moguls have made predictions regarding them. Here are a few to take note of:
Prominent linguist and public intellectual Noam Chomsky said last year that the COP22 Marrakech climate summit in Morocco, which began on Nov. 7, "basically ceased" to function on Nov.9 after the delegates were confronted with the news that Donald Trump was elected as the next U.S. president. Speaking to over 2,000 people at Riverside Church on Dec. 5, Chomsky also made several related climate change predictions.
"The question that was left was whether it would be possible to carry forward this global effort to deal with the highly critical problem of environmental catastrophe, if the leader of the free world, the richest and most powerful country in history, would pull out completely, as appeared to be the case," Chomsky said. "That's the stated goal of the president-elect, who regards climate change as a hoax and whose policy, if he pursues it, is to maximise the use of fossil fuels, end environmental regulations, dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency—established by Richard Nixon, which is a measure of where politics has shifted to the right in the past generation—and, in other ways, accelerate the race to destruction."
In a few years, the devastating effect that the melting of Antarctic glaciers would have on countries with low-lying coastal planes such as Bangladesh would create a migration crisis that would make the European migration crisis seem like "a footnote to a tragedy," according to Chomsky. And he also notes that these low-lying coastal countries have already argued that the fact that countries such as the U.S. that are the biggest emitters of greenhouse gases are guilty in bringing about this new global epoch of Anthropocene should be sufficient reason for the victims like the 10 million Bangladeshis to migrate there.
The threat of climate change, according to Chomsky, converges with the threat of a nuclear war as he illustrates a scenario where the Himalayan glaciers have melted and water scarcity could easily trigger a nuclear war.
"India and Pakistan are nuclear states. They were already almost at war. Any kind of real war would immediately turn into a nuclear war. That might happen very easily over water—over struggles over diminishing water supplies. A nuclear war would not only devastate the region but might actually be terminal for the species, if indeed it leads to nuclear winter and global famine, as many scientists predict," warns Chomsky.
Renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking made the grimmest and most sensational prediction last year when he said that humanity will not survive another 1,000 years on Earth.
Although he did not specifically theorize climate change as the harbinger of doom and also alluded to other existential threats such as artificial intelligence etc, he ended by suggesting that humanity may be able to cope by mastering interstellar space travel.
“Although the chance of disaster to planet Earth in a given year may be quite low, it adds up over time and becomes a near certainty in the next 1,000 or 10,000 years…by that time, we should have spread out into space and to other stars, so a disaster on Earth would not mean the end of the human race,” Hawking said.
Literally undertaking a sustained effort to make Hawking’s prediction regarding interstellar space travel a reality within the next few decades, SpaceX founder and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk hopes to establish a human colony on Mars. He has, however, skirted around the issue of whether or not an incoming climate change-type doomsday scenario has prompted his vision and work.
“I don’t have a doomsday prophecy…but history suggests some doomsday event will happen” Musk said last year.
Musk explained the need for undertaking a mission to colonize Mars while speaking to the documentary filmmaker Werner Herzog in an interview at the set at SpaceX’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. The interview featured in the documentary “Lo and Behold: the reveries of the connected world.”
“I think it’s important for us to take advantage of that window while it is open and to establish life on another planet in the solar system, just in case something goes wrong with Earth…there could be either a natural or man-made disaster that knocks the technology level below where it is possible to travel to another planet,” Musk said.
Of the aforementioned group, Microsoft founder and tech billionaire Bill Gates made the most optimistic prediction regarding climate change last year when he said that researchers will “discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world” within the next 15 years.
“We need more powerful, more economical solutions…In short, we need an energy miracle. When I say 'miracle,' I don’t mean something that’s impossible. I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine. None of them happened by chance. They are the result of research and development and the human capacity to innovate,” Bill and Melinda Gates co-wrote in an annual open letter published last year.