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Building on a report which came out late last year, the World Bank released another report yesterday with the catchy title of ‘Turn Down the Heat: Climate Extremes, Regional Impacts, and the Case for Resilience‘. It was prepared for them by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and describes the effects of present day, 2°C, and 4°C (or 7.2° F) warming on agriculture, water resources, coastal ecosystems and cities across Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. Here are the key findings:

– By the 2030s, droughts and heat will leave 40% of the land in Sub-Saharan Africa, presently growing maize, unable to support that crop.

– Rising temperatures threaten major loss of savanna grasslands and the pastoral livelihoods of millions.

– By the 2050s, malnutrition is projected to increase by 25-90 percent compared to the present in various African subregions.

– In South Asia, the critical monsoon season may become erratic and unpredictable, precipitating a major crisis in the region.

– The devastating Pakistan floods of 2010 may become common place, threatening tens of millions.

– Extreme droughts across India may threaten their food system and lead to widespread shortages.

– As a temperature increase of 4°C approaches, rural populations across South East Asia are faced with sea level rise, more intense tropical cyclones, and loss of critical marine ecosystem services.

– Climate refugees fleeing into urban areas may lead to larger numbers of people living in ‘temporary’ camps which will increase their exposure to heat waves, flooding, and diseases.

– Sea level rise has been occurring faster than previously projected and a rise of as much as 50 cm by the 2050s may already be unavoidable as a result of past emissions.

– By the 2030s a sea level rise of 15 cm, coupled with more intense cyclones, threatens to inundate much of Manilla, Mumbai, Kolkata, Ho Chi Minh City, and Bangkok.

Obviously this sort of climatic change is going to increase terrorism and war as well as tax the electric grid and infrastructure of industrial civilization. It may get so unbearable that many will pray for NTE.

World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim had this to say:

This new report outlines an alarming scenario for the days and years ahead – what we could face in our lifetime. The scientists tell us that if the world warms by 2°C — warming which may be reached in 20 to 30 years — that will cause widespread food shortages, unprecedented heat-waves, and more intense cyclones. In the near-term, climate change, which is already unfolding, could batter the slums even more and greatly harm the lives and the hopes of individuals and families who have had little hand in raising the Earth’s temperature.

He goes on to add the following hopium:

I do not believe the poor are condemned to the future scientists envision in this report. In fact, I am convinced we can reduce poverty even in a world severely challenged by climate change. We can help cities grow clean and climate resilient, develop climate smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies. We can work with countries to roll back harmful fossil fuel subsidies and help put the policies in place that will eventually lead to a stable price on carbon.

Spare me the false concern with the world’s poor and destitute. Has the World Bank lifted a finger to stop the global land grab?

…The World Bank has played a decisive role in turning agriculture into an industry, and promoting the ever-increasing incorporation of natural goods into the market. Everything seems to indicate that it remains faithful to this role today, and continues to facilitate land grabs that represent great business opportunities for capitalists but greater dispossession for rural communities. – source

Without a complete paradigm shift, there can be no other outcome except economic collapse, famine, pestilence, war, and a major population contraction. When the wolves are in sheep’s clothing, expect business-as-usual. Reports describing the dire nature of our predicament will continue to be published just as every prediction in said reports becomes reality. Population overshoot, resource depletion, and a destabilized climate cannot be mitigated by making cities “clean and climate resilient.” If you recall, the mega-cities of today are by their very nature unsustainable because they import vast amounts of resources to support their overstretched ecological footprint. The World Bank report even says that 50cm sea level rise is likely already baked into the cake from past emissions, all the while CO2 and methane levels continue to rise. How would you make all the coastal cities, whose residents comprise a major portion of the world’s population, “climate resilient”? Last time I checked, the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy was still visible and many people were rebuilding right where their house previously stood, with the hope that Sandy was a “once in a lifetime event”. “Develop climate smart agriculture practices” is code for GMOing our way out of this problem. A “stable price” for carbon? Is that going to stop China’s coal consumption?

Snap 2013-06-20 at 00.34.31

…Despite its efforts to limit coal consumption and focus on alternative fuel sources, China’s thermal coal demand was expected to double by 2030, analyst Wood Mackenzie reported this week.

In a paper titled ‘China: The Illusion of Peak Coal’, Wood Mackenzie reported that the Asian major’s demand would grow to around seven-billion tons a year of thermal coal, which was contrary to speculation that China’s thermal coal demand may reach a peak in the next decade.

“It is very unlikely that demand for thermal coal in China will peak before 2030,” said William Durbin, Wood Mackenzie’s Beijing-based president of global markets.

“Why? Because China’s aggressive investment programme for nuclear, natural gas and renewables capacity is centred in the coastal region while coal-fired capacity grows in the central and western provinces. Indeed, there are also a plethora of coal-intensive conversion projects being built or planned that are significantly adding to demand.”…

…“Government mandates to improve the environment by reducing coal use will require steep investments in alternatives, the use of emission control technology or reduced economic growth rate targets – options which are not currently happening,” Durbin said.

“But what is noteworthy, however, is that there is greater potential for further demand growth beyond our expectations. Failure to meet an aggressive noncoal-power capacity build, investment in more efficient technologies and the expansion of the UHV network will increase the dependence on and use of coal. In the end, China’s thermal coal demand will see persistent growth until 2030, rendering peak coal an illusion.

Humans can talk about becoming sustainable until they are blue in the face, but with a global population growing by more than 200k per day, the rest of the planet striving for a high consumption western lifestyle, and external environmental costs of business(doubling every 14 years) ignored by corporations, how can that ever be possible? It won’t… until it can’t.