Preparing for the heated world
Learn to love apartment living, prefer virtual leisure experiences over real-life ones and prioritise satisfaction over income.
This is practical advice from a veteran climate worrier on what you can do now to get ready for the "unrecognisable planet" which the Global Carbon Project warns will be our home by the end of the century.
New data shows greenhouse gas emissions are climbing too quickly to avert the effects of dangerous climate change by century's end. Our world will be 4-6 degrees hotter than now.
Eminent climate change scientist Andy Pitman of the University of NSW said research such as this "should come with a warning: 'Do not read this if you are depressed'".
"The main challenge is mental," admits Jorgen Randers, who has been feeling for 40 years what readers of the latest gloomy climate forecasts might now be experiencing.
The Norwegian business professor is co-author of the seminal work The Limits to Growth, which sounded the alarm on the planet's future in 1972.
He's now written 2052, A Global Forecast for the Next 40 Years, partly his final effort to "kick society into action" but also as an antidote to his grief over the "lost global opportunity" and "unnecessary suffering" which awaits us on the path to a world "less beautiful and less harmonious than it could have been".
Rather than have you despair, he offers some practical personal advice on how to adapt to a future compromised by ongoing poverty, population pressure and climate change.
1. Learn to love apartment living
The future will be "urban, dense and crowded" and most people will live in an urban tower in a megacity. So "don't develop a taste for life in suburbia". Remind yourself how high-density living relieves you of the lawns that must be mowed, the rooves and gutters that must be fixed, and the long, boring commutes to the city.
2. Forget bushwalking
Don't teach your children to love wide open spaces. Per capita, there is now only half the unused land there was in 1970, and by 2050 it will halve again. The amount of land that is less than 10 kilometres away from human constructions is rapidly diminishing, so people seeking wilderness will have fewer and fewer places to go, which are further and further away.
3. Learn to prefer virtual entertainment
Go and see biodiversity hotspots and world tourist attractions now. As technology advances, experiencing a sightseeing spot digitally will have even more advantages than now over standing in the burning sun to see the real thing through the gaps in the crowd.
4. Focus on satisfaction
Don't be obsessed with income, and stop believing all growth is good. Accept that the retirement age will increase and pensions will diminish in the ageing industrial countries of the world. During the next 40 years a number of things are going to decline, in some cases representing a fundamental solution to an underlying problem. So it's wise to teach yourself to distinguish between good and bad growth and decline.
5. Guarantee yourself a job
If you can't stand a job in services or health and aged care, go into energy efficiency and renewables, or get your children to. And get them to learn Mandarin, so they can "get a job that will surf on the rapidly expanding wave of Chinese activity on Earth".
Sydney Morning Herald