I have seen the future and it is very scary!

While watching “The Dark”, a show on Netflix based on time travel. I wondered what would it be like, in reality, to travel to the future and past. 

Using a similar kind of time machine as shown in the show, I traveled to the future in the year 2050 to see how does our world will look like.

The following portrayal of the future is adapted from the book – “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis” by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac.

An assumption is made that beyond the emissions reductions registered in 2015, no further efforts were made to control emissions.

Let us see how does our future look like.

Lets start with Air and look at the quality of air in 2050. 

The air is very hot and there is very thick smog everywhere. People cannot see clearly and their eyes often water. They always have a cough with itching throat. 

At present, people cannot leave their homes without putting masks in order to protect themselves from coronavirus. But in 2050, in some countries in Asia masks are the necessity if people have to go out. The intensified surface ozone levels make it very dangerous to go outside without a specially designed mask. The air inside is also not safe, people always complain about the feeling of nausea indoors.

Artificial rain ( when clouds are seeded to create rain ) is very common to clear the sky and remove pollution but the results are not very good.

Air Pollution in 2050
Image Source: http://longevityfacts.com/scientists-air-pollution-top-killer-2050-global-warming-health/
Now, moving on to the temperature in 2050.

The world has become very hot and the limit of 1.5 degrees C was crossed long ago and it is continuously becoming hotter. 

In 2020, half of the carbon dioxide emitted was stores in oceans, forests, and soil. But in 2050, they have lost their ability to absorb CO2. Rather they have started emitting the stored CO2, accelerating the heating of the planet.

People who lived in between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn are moving northwards and southwards to escape the extreme heat. Northern and southern countries are pressurized to accommodate migrants.

Talking about the Tipping points - which is basically the thresholds after which the changes happening due to climate change cannot be reversed.

We have surpassed many tipping points already in 2050.

The first tipping point reached was – Vanishing of coral reefs. Efforts are being made to grow artificial corals farther north and south from the equator where the water is a bit cooler but these efforts have not resulted in fruitful results. 

The second tipping point was – Melting of Arctic ice sheets. There is no summer Arctic ice anymore. The temperature in the Arctic is rising at the rate three times more than the global rise in 2020 and with such pace, it is sure that no arctic ice will be left in 2050.

Now in 2050, all the eyes are on Antarctic ice which could result in more than a 5-meter rise in sea levels, and cities like Miami, Shanghai, and Dhaka will become uninhabitable. 

Here is how the Coastal life looks.

Besides the rising sea levels, the rising temperatures are resulting in extreme hurricanes and tropical storms and it is happening at an unprecedented frequency. Many coastal areas are already underwater. Millions have to leave their home and move to higher areas. 

Fishing is banned so that few fishes that are left should be allowed to enjoy. 

The Desert Area is expanding.

Increased temperature has resulted in Aridification followed by Desertification. The Sahara Desert which was once in Africa has expanded to Europe. The summer temperature in Paris regularly touches 44 degrees C. Very less inhabitable places are left. 

How much water is left in 2050?

Almost all the major sources of freshwater are dried up. Very little good quality water is left and hence conflicts are quite common over water. Rich people are ready to pay a huge sum of money and portable water is available to rich people only. The taps in the public facilities are locked. Hong Kong, Barcelona, and Abu Dhabi have been desalinating seawater for years so that they can keep up with the constant wave of immigration from areas that have gone completely dry. Water-borne diseases are also common among people due to the poor quality of water. 

Water Availability in 2050
Image Source: https://ritholtz.com/2018/03/5-7-billion-drinking-water-2050/
How does Food Production look like? 

It is highly dependent on the area and time of the year. Very few areas have land that can support vegetation. Starvation and malnutrition have skyrocketed. Climate zones have shifted, Alaska and Arctic are now available for agriculture. Food is also a luxury to rich only who get good quality food and others have to manage with what is left. Scientists are trying to produce staple food that can withstand drought, temperature fluctuations, and salt but it is too late now. 

Countries with enough food are resolute about holding on to it.

As the frequency of disaster has increased and multiple disasters are happening simultaneously in every country, it takes weeks or even months to get access to basic food and water.

The Himalayan, Alpine and Andean Glaciers -

They are almost gone and the water availability in the areas dependent on them is highly impacted. There is no more snow on the mountains in winter and there is no gradual melting for the spring and summer. Now, there are either torrential rains leading to flooding or prolonged droughts.  


How is Day to day life in 2050?

People try to remain inside as much as they can with Air conditioners working on 24X7. Wet towels are used to make the body cool. In hot parts of the world, the temperature has risen up to 60 degrees C. At such high temperatures body losses its capacity to cool down and you cannot work outside for more than six hours. Good sleep is very rare for common people who cannot afford Air conditioners, they can get only two hours of sleep only at around 4 a.m. which is the coolest part of the day.

Lockdowns are very common to control riots happening in communities over food and water. 

Stock markets are crashing, currencies are wildly fluctuating, and the European Union has disbanded. Global trade has slowed as countries such as China stop exporting and seek to hold on to their own resources. Disasters and wars rage, choking off trade routes. 

Reproduction has slowed overall, but mainly in countries where food security is extreme. 

Changes in cities in 2050
Image Source: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/07/worlds-major-cities-to-face-unknown-climate-conditions-by-2050/
Here is how the Health of people affected in 2050.

There is a huge spike in suicides due to psychological imbalances as people are not able to cope with the fast change in climate. Diseases such as malaria, dengue, cholera, respiratory illnesses, and malnutrition are rampant. Pandemics are very common. Melting permafrost is also releasing ancient microbes that today’s humans have never been exposed to — and as a result, have no resistance to.

The life expectancy of people has reduced to a great extent due to an increase in the number of diseases.

Overall in 2050 -

It looks like the extinction of human species is about to happen and it is widely discussed. Debates are happening all over the world on how long does humanity can last. People are blaming each other for the current situation and wishing that they could have done something when there was time. Now they are ready to do anything it takes to make things normal but it is too late now. Our children and grandchildren are constantly blaming us and saying what were we doing when all the scientists were saying that climate change is real, reports were coming, and there was a chance to stop this.

Coming back to the present time in 2020: 

I want to request everyone to start making a shift towards sustainable lifestyle. 

There are high chances that our future would be quite similar to as shown above but we can prevent it. We just need to be together, make people aware of climate change, and start implementing steps to prevent climate change at an unprecedented rate. Remember the clock is ticking very fast and we have very little time left. We do not want to live with regret in the future and wishing that we had time and resources to stop all this. 

References:

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/what-the-world-could-look-like-in-2050-if-we-do-everything-right-on-climate/

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Yash

Yash loves to read and write on issues such as climate change, renewable energy, SDGs, and other related issues. He wants to make people aware of climate change and encourage them to follow a sustainable lifestyle.

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