Now that we have a better understanding of the fundamentals (see What is Global Warming (Part 1/3) – The Fundamentals) let us proceed with Global Warming. This is a worst case scenario describing the state of climate leading up to the early half of the next century. This is a science based narration with two sections 1) Inland areas and 2) Coastal areas of the continental US that focuses on Global Warming if not enough is done curb it. The same scenario exist with other continents and large land masses.
1. Inland or Central Continent
These are areas far enough away from the ocean to negate ocean temperature and moisture effects and ocean storm activities. As greenhouse gasses increase the central continental ground temperatures will increase. Since heat accumulates only in the top few inches of soil these temperatures will heat up to higher levels near the ground than the average global temperature. As the sun heats up these layers the nearby air is also heated and quickly rises, the hotter it gets, to warm the rest of the air above. As greenhouse gas levels continue to raise so will the this heated air since the heat becomes increasingly trapped by the greenhouse gases.
As the air above progressively warms it contains less and less moisture resulting in less cloud formation and rain (clouds can form over land from moisture coming off the land). Ever so slowly at first the Midwestern states will see progressively more record-breaking temperatures and drought year. These heat and drought periods will start stringing together and well waters start to dry out. Farming will become progressively more difficult and living conditions more harsh. Farmers will start abandoning their farms as crops do poorly and livestock become increasingly more difficult to feed and water. As temperatures continue to rise remaining residents will become increasingly dependent upon air conditioning to keep cool which uses electricity produced by fossil fuel. This results in even more greenhouse gases. Towards the early half of the next century land will become more arid as ground waters dry up and a permanent state of drought and unbearable heat starts to set in. By that time farming will have long ceased and nature taken over. Winds will continue to blow from hot air rising and cooler air falling creating frequent dust bowls blowing away loose topsoil. Midwestern states once rich in agriculture will become deserts incapable of sustaining all but the hardiest of life as global temperatures exceed 10 degrees F over current global temperature making these arid lands heat up beyond 130F. The hot expanding air rises creating permanent high pressure regions over these arid deserts. Food shortages nationwide will be common place. Populations will have migrated to the relatively cooler coastal areas. The same will be happening elsewhere on the planet. There might be a mass migration to areas such as northern Canada and Russia, Greenland, and Antarctica which by now may have milder climates.
2. Coastal Areas
As greenhouse gases increase glacial and arctic ice will melt reducing the amount of the sun’s rays reflected back into space and towards the end of the century ice will completely disappear. The oceans will gradually rise to 20 to 30 feet above present day levels. CO2 trapped in ice is released back into the atmosphere as it melts further accelerating warming. Progressive and permanent flooding will occur for low-lying coastal areas such as New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, much of Florida, and even San Francisco and many bay area cities as well as Los Angeles, Santa Barbra, San Diego, and countless high density coastal communities. By the next century large numbers of large coastal communities worldwide would simply cease to exist. Our California Bay Area delta will experience progressively increasing salt water intrusion starting the middle of this century reducing the supply of fresh water available to California residents. Salt water intrusion will impacting California agriculture and wipe out farms along the delta. Ultimately the delta region will be flooded with ocean water as ocean levels rise.
While sea levels rise so will storm surges as super storms become more commonplace due to the heating of the oceans and increased evaporation and CO2 released. This will make it even more difficult to live close to the water where ships carry supplies from one port to another. As the ocean claims more land new ports will be created to hopefully withstand the huge storm and storm surges which will continue to grow in strength, size, frequency and destructiveness as global temperatures rise and evaporation feeding the storms increases. The warmer waters will liberate even more CO2, once captured earlier when the waters were much cooler, accelerates greenhouse warming.
In the Eastern Coast of America summers will be long, hot, humid, and very tropical. Winters will be mild and short. Storms will strike with increasing voracity and destructiveness primarily during the long hot summers making it difficult to recover from the wrath of recently passed storms. Perpetual high pressure regions in the hot central continental deserts prevent these huge tropical storms of low pressure from moving further inland. So they simple moved in a north-northwesterly direction continuing to quickly lose energy as they leave the warm oceans until they eventually died somewhere over land in the cooler northern regions of Canada. Towards the end of the century and into the next these 2,500 mile diameter super-sized storms may strike the entire east coast every two to four months carrying F5 tornado speed winds of 200 mph or higher whipping torrential rain drops the size of marbles horizontally like billions of marbles capable of shattering car windows. These winds, which may gust in excess of 350 mph, will be capable of tossing buses, cars, trees, stones, etc. into the air in excess of 100 mph into large building and man-made structures doing serious damage. 50-100 foot high storm surges will strike coastal communities and endanger nuclear power facilities to Fukushima type disasters near the coast due to the need for cooling water if not designed for such eventualities. Inland flooding will be devastating due to unimaginable torrential rains. Destruction of power grids, roads, railways, bridges, airports, etc. infrastructures will be relentless. Growing any kind of crops before the next storm hits will be a game of chance with the odds on nature’s side. Torrential rains will pour down like water falls every few day causing relentless flooding. Food will have to come from elsewhere but where? Even if food could be imported by ships or airplanes they would have to fight nature’s wrath like the sailing ships of long ago. Finding good landing strips or ports would be at the mercy of Mother Nature. Perhaps the only places to grow crops in the 22nd Century would be the northern regions of Canada and Russia, Greenland, and Antarctica with mild temperatures and fewer storms. As food becomes scarcer so will the population.
On the West Coast of America the climate will become hotter and drier. Weather will progressively come from the vast hot and dry inland regions of the nation, pushed by the east to west rotation of the earth, resulting in much lower rain fall and hotter temperatures. Even with the ocean at the coast there will be little rain and drought conditions will prevail like the dry coast of parts of Africa today. Large wind storms would often strike areas further inland. Rivers and lakes will dry up, mountains will no longer see snow, and water shortages will be a major problem. Desalination of ocean water will be a major industry. Agriculture will cease to exist and food shortages similar to the east coast exist and the populations shrink due to starvation and disease as living conditions deteriorate unless enough desalinated water can be produced. If focal fuels are used for desalination even more greenhouse gases will be emitted. Similar conditions will exist in other similar parts of the world. There will simply be not enough time for humans to adapt due to the rapid change in climate.
There will be a point at which global temperatures will be so high that even if humans were to totally end carbon emissions it will have negligible effects due to the Secondary Sources of CO2 emissions from the warming vastness of the oceans at all depths becoming the primary source of greenhouse gases. What can we do to try to counter the process? One desperate measure is to create many nuclear explosions to try to throw up vast amounts of dust into the atmosphere to filter the sun’s rays. But the global radioactive fallout from so many explosions may blanket the earth with so much highly radioactive material that radiation damage to living organisms is highly likely. Hoping for a comet to strike the earth and do the same thing without the radioactivity is a remote possibility but it can also bring in the onset of another ice age that may also cause humans to become extinct or have other unknown consequences. This problem is so vast and rapid that it is unlikely than we can devise any technology that can protect us against the consequences of Global Warming quickly enough. And our solutions may create other major problems. Adequate food and fresh water will be the greatest problems facing survival.