David Carlson: Looking into the future


Who can predict the future?

That’s kind of a trick question, because anyone can predict the future. The real question is, “Who can predict the future accurately?”

We might think that predicting the future accurately is the task of religious mystics or seers. But there are others who are accurately predicting the future, and those are the climate scientists.

I’ve recently been reading more about what our planet will be like in 2050. Given my age, a person might think, since I don’t expect to be living in 2050, that I shouldn’t concern myself with that issue.

But I am now a grandparent, and that gives me a strong motive to care about the world my grandchildren and all children will be living in.

I won’t rehash the standard arguments for action on climate change. I am more concerned about lesser-known challenges that today’s children will face.

Of all of those challenges, the one that stands out for me is “climate migration,”

By 2050, temperatures near the equator will be so extreme that human habitation in that region will be unbearable. Scientists predict that tens or even hundreds of millions of people will be on the move, fleeing locations near the equator to relocate toward the poles. If we have an immigration crisis now — which we do, no matter what side of the issue we are on — how will we deal with a crisis so much more extreme? Where will all those people go?

Climate migration is also predicted to affect our country internally.

Southern and Midwestern states will also be plagued by extreme temperatures — 125 degrees will occur — forcing people northward. But life in the northern states will not be a cool haven. Indianapolis could feel like Guatemala. Green Bay could be as hot as Tallahassee is now.

Of course, anyone reading this can say, “You can’t be sure that this will happen. Maybe the scientists are wrong.” But some of us are already showing that climate migration is an undeniable fact.

The “some” I am referring to are the plants and animals that are already on the move north. Birds, reptiles, mammals, trees and plants aren’t waiting for our government to pass more stringent climate control legislation.

And birds, reptiles, mammals, trees and plants can hardly be accused of being liberal. It turns out that these so-called “dumb animals” aren’t so dumb after all.

From now on, let’s reserve the “dumb” category for the one life-form that pretends there is no crisis.

David Carlson of Franklin is a professor emeritus of philosophy and religion. Send comments to [email protected].

No posts to display