I am in Barcelona for a conference, and as Spain is among the areas hardest hit by climate-change induced drought, I have been reflecting on the situation that we face.

The Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the American Southwest are the areas currently most vulnerable to catastrophic drought, but the danger will spread north and south as the planet warms. Within a few years, there will be significant areas of that will be unlivable, that are now crowded with human population. There is no certain way to tell what specific places will be involved, but this magnificent city could easily be among them.

I have known that this was coming most of my adult life. Years ago, during a period of close contact with the visitors, I asked when we would face actual climate catastrophe. The answer was “it will come upon them unaware.” And now I see that it’s true. We are simply not able to imagine a change so profound and with such extreme consequences. And yet, it is almost certain to happen.

The first cities to become uninhabitable due to water starvation are likely to be in the Middle East and the American Southwest, but it’s quite possible that Southern Europe could beat them.

When one looks into the past, it’s not hard to find civilizations that have been damaged or destroyed by water shortages. The Mayan world, of course, is a prime example, and the Greek Mycenaean civilization. The Anasazi disappeared due to drought, and the Roman Empire was destabilized by food shortages and mass immigration from the east, both the result of a long-term drought that developed from about 100 AD.

Right now, both Europe and the United States are facing immigration crises that nobody really knows how to deal with. This will get much worse, and quickly. Because migration into the US is all overland, it is more vulnerable than Europe, but not by much. In the US, both political parties have failed, although in different ways, to deal effectively with the crisis.

It is going to become much worse. The US will have to militarize its southern border or accept vast migration. Even with a militarized border, as the Romans discovered, it is likely to become uncontrollable. And, if China is any example, walls are not much good, either. Worse, in both Southern Europe and the American Southwest, mass migration is going be into areas that are themselves drought=stricken and unable to support their existing populations, let alone new migrants. In fact, there will be outmigration from those areas of their own current populations.

Mankind is going to be moving north.

So, what can we do? The first and most important thing, worldwide is to NEVER elect leaders or tolerate existing leaders who deny or ignore climate change. At this point, to do so is literally an act of suicide. Secondly, we have to do effective forward planning, which consists of things like revising water catchments so that they will capture the brief, torrential rainfalls that are going to be a feature of future climate.

An example of what is needed is seen in the inefficient catchment that took place in southern California during Hurricane Hilary, and in Italy and Greece during their recent torrential floods. We can design water catchment systems that are less likely to be overwhelmed by sudden, huge inputs. As matters stand, most of the precious rainwater involved in these areas simply flowed into the sea.

Despite the obviously critical situation we are in, climate change denial is still endemic. The “debate” about it has always been false–something generated by the fossil fuel industry. Denial has been spread as a political position. But nature doesn’t do politics. Nature is numbers, nothing more or less, and the story the numbers are telling with increasingly hot oceans and air masses and melting poles, is quite clear.

I do sincerely hope, for the sake of all our generations, and most especially the young, that we can find effective ways to mitigate climate change and avoid the upheavals I see coming.

“It will come upon them unaware.” As I strolled the active streets of this prosperous, thriving city this morning, I thought: “how true.”

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  1. Author

    First, I am not talking about climate science, but facts that anybody can easily confirm, unless you wish to dispute things like the validity of ocean temperature measurements or the reality of storms like Hilary. Second, “it will come upon them unaware” does not qualify as an “alien prediction.” It is a statement of opinion.

    As I said in my piece, nature is numbers. Those numbers, easily verified, speak for themselves.

  2. I have been saying for a long time on this site that the real problem we are facing is the leaders we put in our federal government, those who shape and make laws that create society. Most of them simply don’t work for us, the everyday folks inhabiting this planet who are not rich, powerful, or privileged. Folks who actually can’t afford NOT to worry about the future for their kids. The true upheaval that I see coming is the political one, where these folks rise up and say no more. They must organize into a vast, significant bloc of voters with one common purpose: put in government officials who are not corrupt by the huge amounts of money being poured in the voting process by special interests who are hell-bent in protecting their wealth and power no matter the cost.

    In order to save the planet, to make it a more just, stable, and sustainable society, we have to put in place an effective and honest organizing administration that truly puts its interest in the common people.

    The challenges humanity faces are immense. It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted. But I would not bet against the spirit and the intelligence of our species. How many times have we gone up against the threat of extinction in our brief but tumultuous existence, only to come out in the end battered but triumphant, humbled but transformed for the better?

    We have the opportunity to seize a new world for us, but it takes a revolution in the face of impending doom. Can we rise up and face the next threatening menace that affects each and every one of us? Or are we going to cower and finally sink into the muck of extinction that has fated more than 99% of all other species that has roamed the earth?

    I wouldn’t bet against us, but the moment of decision is quickly upon us. We must act aggressively, and if that means causing extreme disruption, and ultimately killing and burying the existing societal paradigm, then so be it.

    1. What about those of us who would rather die than live in your hideous dictatorship?

      1. I don’t understand your statement. A dictatorship serves only one person. What I’m talking about is a collective action grounded in compassion and conviction where the purpose is to serve the welfare of everyone. Toppling an outdated economic and political system that benefits only the very few while virtually ignoring the reality of a rapidly changing world seems like the necessary thing to do. I’m not advocating physical violence. But if we are to face this enormous challenge, we will first have to come to grips with it and realize that any type of dramatic change will come with a fight.

        As the terror of climate change continues to bear down on us, and the unraveling of our institutions continue as well, major disruption is inevitable. How we manage that is the key. I’d rather see it come from ordinary folks who are not craven for power and wealth. They just want a modicum of security and a decent future for their kids.

        I’d rather see that happen instead of us going down a dark path, where a dangerous demagogue, who truly knows what he is doing, can rise up, usurp power, and single-handedly take us to the brink. If that were to happen, you can then ask yourself what kind of “hideous dictatorship” you’d rather live with.

  3. Author

    There is an instinctive death wish associated with overpopulation. There have been many studies, primarily of rats placed in overpopulated conditions, that confirm this. You find it manifesting in the psychology of people in our world, which is very overpopulated. It’s simply part of nature.

    1. I would make the argument that it is less about overpopulation and more about resource management, namely food production and energy. We waste an incredible amount in order to produce these things. Take for instance beef, the protein of choice for the western world for a long time. It takes so much water, calories, and land space to procure the necessary protein for a healthy body, whereas a plant-based diet can achieve the same with only a fraction of the cost in terms of resource allotment. As much as I like a good steak and hamburger, it’d be wise if we all moved away from beef. Plus, it goes without saying that plant-based alternatives are healthier.

      Again, my main point is that we are going to have to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. We have to become more efficient in how we use things. The days of believing that we can keep taking from the ever-abundant earth without having to worry about any consequences are over. We must learn as a species that the earth is the greater extension of us, and that when we overextend her, we cause potential harm to ourselves.

      As to overpopulation, as more and more countries have become more developed, their birth rates dropped. We are seeing this in many countries already, as they’re not having enough children to replenish their shrinking population. I’m afraid, though, that climate change will outpace many of these countries and we will see a giant influx of victims who will become trapped between its affects and the economic and social policies of governments that will refuse to change for their benefit.

  4. Author

    I don’t disagree at all. I think you make excellent points. I was talking about a psychological effect that can cause irrational behavior. In terms of practical reality, I don’t think we have a population problem either. But the psychological effect does influence people. They feel an instinctive sense of threat which causes them to lose perspective.

  5. Speaking of beef, TOMKOWT, my husband + I had tacos for breakfast today (using the Impossible ground product) that I cooked with chopped onion … amazingly tasty tacos. So moving away from meat does not have to be traumatic. Packages of Impossible ground are now selling at Trader Joe’s markets for $5.00 per package (12 ounce package).

    Whitley, in Southern California starting about 20 years ago, many underground water storage basins were built. Thanks to last season’s extreme rains, those basins are now approaching being totally filled. I saw some of the recent SoCal TV news coverage on water in SoCal flood control channels during that recent rainy season … they reported inaccurately that the water was not being captured, but in reality some was captured, with the main problem now being that the storage basins are nearing a 100% full status. The other California problem is that Northern California has *not* begun building water storage basins, and that is a huge mistake.

    1. Indy I think it will become a necessity brought by cost. Kansas has seen significant cattle losses due to heat and that’s from the ones that outright die. The stress will lead to more deaths or other complications over time that will not be counted to heat stress. I’m not vegetarian but I’ve always incorporated “alternative meats” in my diet. Heck when Jimmy Dean, known for their sausage products, offers a plant based alternative you know its catching on.

  6. Not sure who described climate change as a slow moving train wreck but it is apt to this blog. Its happening everywhere and all the time. Sometimes with leaps and bounds and sometimes without notice. Here in my state of Kansas I’ve noticed the past several summers have definitely had reduced daily wind strength. Yes the big storms grab headlines but what I remember growing up was an almost daily southern wind in the summer, usually from 15-25 mph. Those days seem to be gone. I haven’t seen numbers put to it but I know its a predicted result of climate change. These are the things that catch us unaware and ultimately result in big catastrophes over time.

  7. Even if mankind was able to migrate to escape the heat & drought in the North American region ,say way up into Canada…what happens when the correction happens and the next ice age is upon us in a season? Additionally, one cant grow grains to scale in Northern Canadian soil. Add in the catch -22 of the albedo effect. ( keep polluting and particulates reflect heat back – stop pollution and the heat surges)

    Its happening… just as my vivid dreams from the mid 80’s foretold me. MOTK and Thems have told us and now the white paper scientists are being way to conservative in their predictions. I once thought of moving to VT , but the excessive rainfall in the NE will make it hard unless you live on a mountain top. There truly is no where to run.

    Only love remains..-Guy Mcpherson

  8. You may want to have hypnotic regression focused on the Key event, then write expanded edition of The Key based on that data.

  9. Just like everyone else, I fear the coming changes. As a Conservative I seek lasting solutions that are universally fair and humane though I am troubled by a suspicion that a controlling super elite will take matters into their own hands.

    If bio-warfare and engineered ‘natural disasters’ are used to bring down numbers then I see a hundred years of turmoil not ‘quick solutions’.

    Perhaps the elite will attempt to build a global society that resembles the dystopian world of the Divergent series or perhaps the Hunger Games?

    Life’s full of surprises so let’s hope that something better descends gracefully upon us from above.


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