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View Full Version : Extrapolating from current climate conditions



dolores haze
01-05-2012, 06:20 PM
In my current sci fi WIP, set several hundred years in the future, the population of Earth has been decimated due to food shortages, catastrophic flooding and other weather events, and the resulting violent reactions of desperate people. A good chunk of the remaining population has been evacuated to outer space colonies and stations, though the powers-that-be have currently run out of the fuel and food supplies needed to evacuate the rest of the population.

For the people remaining on Earth - what will their planet look like?

I've done a fair bit of research on this. Currently I have the temperate zones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_zone) much narrower and further north/south than currently, which leaves the current southern temperate zone right in the middle of the ocean. The northern temperate zone, much smaller due to rising sea levels, is now the only place left where large-scale agriculture is still possible and, thus, is greatly over-populated.

I originally had the torrid/equatorial zone as much wider, with the world's deserts expanding rapidly. But now I'm thinking that, if the Earth is a warmer and wetter place, this might not be the case. I'm toying with the idea of the equatorial zone being gradually taken over by a super-jungle too aggressive to be tamed by man. But how likely is this? The WIP is soft sci fi but I do want my premise to be somewhat tenable.

I'm also having conniptions out which animal species would survive such climate changes. A wipe out of large mammals seems likely and I originally had insects, amphibians and scavenger types increasing their numbers quite rapidly, but the more I think about it the more likely it seems that all animal life would become extinct or close to it. Warm and wet might seem ideal for a massive explosion of mosquitoes, but if they have little to feed on, wouldn't they die out too?

I'd be very grateful if folks could throw out other things I need to be thinking about, as well as possible answers to my questions. Humanity's survival is assured. Earth's remaining humans are charged with doing what they can to assure the planet's survival.

Drachen Jager
01-05-2012, 09:28 PM
http://www.edf.org/climate/climate-change-impacts

That website seems to have a good rundown. Drought is more common now with the current level of global warming, so it would probably follow that desertification would increase. Perhaps plants like kudzu could take over large agricultural areas, and could be very difficult to wipe out, but they wouldn't be completely impenetrable to man.

Bing Z
01-06-2012, 12:10 AM
I originally had the torrid/equatorial zone as much wider, with the world's deserts expanding rapidly. But now I'm thinking that, if the Earth is a warmer and wetter place, this might not be the case. I'm toying with the idea of the equatorial zone being gradually taken over by a super-jungle too aggressive to be tamed by man. But how likely is this? The WIP is soft sci fi but I do want my premise to be somewhat tenable.

I watched a NOVA (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nova_%28TV_series%29) episode a couple of weeks ago on PBS and it tackled a similar scenario (not to your extent.) Basically they conclude that the glaciers in Alaska and Greenland are retreating/shrinking due to warmer climate. They further suggest if the greenhouse effect goes on the glaciers atop inland mountains (like those on the Himalayas & the Rockies) will disappear while ocean level rises. This will be catastrophic as these glaciers are sources of fresh water for billions of people. So, as the Earth gets warmer, it may not get wetter, but drier instead, fatally drier. It is possible the primary water source in your WIP be desalination and these antagonistic business folks are in control of every aspect of life.

Hallen
01-06-2012, 02:30 AM
Make it do what you want it to do since nobody really knows for sure. And, since your character probably has no idea beyond the fact that the environment has changed, you won't need to explain much.

The climate is a very complex thing and one trending phenomena can easily whiplash back into exactly the opposite. All that cold glacial water pouring into the sea causes a reversal of the current flows causing huge plankton growth which eats up vast amounts of CO2 which causes an ice age. Yes, I made that up. But, it's plausible enough for soft sci-fi. Anyway, best of luck with your project. :)

Snick
01-06-2012, 02:43 AM
In my current sci fi WIP, set several hundred years in the future, the population of Earth has been decimated due to food shortages, catastrophic flooding and other weather events, and the resulting violent reactions of desperate people. A good chunk of the remaining population has been evacuated to outer space colonies and stations, though the powers-that-be have currently run out of the fuel and food supplies needed to evacuate the rest of the population.

For the people remaining on Earth - what will their planet look like?

I've done a fair bit of research on this. Currently I have the temperate zones (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographical_zone) much narrower and further north/south than currently, which leaves the current southern temperate zone right in the middle of the ocean. The northern temperate zone, much smaller due to rising sea levels, is now the only place left where large-scale agriculture is still possible and, thus, is greatly over-populated.

I originally had the torrid/equatorial zone as much wider, with the world's deserts expanding rapidly. But now I'm thinking that, if the Earth is a warmer and wetter place, this might not be the case. I'm toying with the idea of the equatorial zone being gradually taken over by a super-jungle too aggressive to be tamed by man. But how likely is this? The WIP is soft sci fi but I do want my premise to be somewhat tenable.

I'm also having conniptions out which animal species would survive such climate changes. A wipe out of large mammals seems likely and I originally had insects, amphibians and scavenger types increasing their numbers quite rapidly, but the more I think about it the more likely it seems that all animal life would become extinct or close to it. Warm and wet might seem ideal for a massive explosion of mosquitoes, but if they have little to feed on, wouldn't they die out too?

I'd be very grateful if folks could throw out other things I need to be thinking about, as well as possible answers to my questions. Humanity's survival is assured. Earth's remaining humans are charged with doing what they can to assure the planet's survival.

Inteesting. So you are taking it into the next leg of the cycle, the next little ice age or even a real ice age.

If it is a little ice age, then you might parallel it with the last cycle and toss in a goodly aaplague to bring down the population. The really warm part of the last cycle was from 1000 CE to 1200 CE with the century before and after being transitional.

Buffysquirrel
01-06-2012, 03:04 AM
What's interesting for us in the UK (for certain values of interesting) is that we could get either a Mediterranean climate OR be frozen into icicles. Fun, huh? It all depends on whether the Gulf Stream fails.

dolores haze
01-09-2012, 05:47 PM
Thanks so much for the links, thoughts and assistance. Much appreciated!