The Smithsonian Institution – established in 1846 “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” – has weighed into the debate on climate change. And the news is grim.
Soon golfers in hotter parts of the world – such as Arizona – may find themselves unable to play a round. Indeed, according to one expert, quoted in the Smithsonian’s online journal, that moment has already arrived.
“When I worked in Atlanta it was hot and humid, but there was never a day I couldn’t go outside and hit a tennis ball,” says Royal Norman, a meteorologist for station KTVK. “But there are days here where I’m never outside except to get in and out of my car.”
But this is only the beginning of the horror of the burning hell we can expect to experience as a result of climate change, according to The Smithsonian – a world-renowned science institution which no way would prostitute its reputation by running some half-baked article in its house magazine based on little more than a few desperate quotes and some dodgy, parti-pris research from politicised university departments cherry-picked by an author to support his tendentious thesis.
Here are a few more of the tragedies that lie ahead.
1. It will be too hot to get any work done.
For reasons Hsiang is still studying, hotter temperatures depress economic activity. In a study of 28 Caribbean economies, he found that “short-term increases in surface temperature are associated with large reductions in economic output. I was stunned by how large the effect was. I don’t want to be alarmist, but I think the evidence is extremely concerning, and it hasn’t been seriously considered by policy makers.”
2. Science fiction writers may have trouble competing with reality.
Global warming does pose some special challenges for fiction, as the editor Gordon Van Gelder points out: “It’s hard to write a story where the characters are grappling with climate change. You can’t just pull out a laser gun and shoot at it.” Still, Van Gelder managed to recruit 16 contributors for his 2011 collection of stories, Welcome to the Greenhouse.
3. It will be worse than Mad Max, Mad Max II and Mad Max Beyond The Thunderdome combined, probably. But without Tina Turner to lighten the tone.
Craig A. Anderson, of Iowa State University, pioneered research on climate and aggression, and derived the formula that each additional degree of warming increases the rate of violent crime (homicides and assaults) by 4.19 cases per 100,000 people. Solomon Hsiang, a public policy specialist at UC Berkeley, has found that climate change historically leads to social disruption, up to and including war. Property crime, personal violence, domestic violence, police violence–everything you want less of, climate change seems to bring more of, either directly by making individuals more violence-prone, or indirectly by promoting conflict related to diminishing resources or deteriorating economic conditions.
4. Children just aren’t going to know what snow is (Again!)
“We will see the emergence of novel climates, environments we’ve not seen before in human times, and the extinction of others, around the Arctic and in high Alpine regions,” says Laurence C. Smith, a professor of geography at UCLA and author of The World in 2050. Smith says cities, industry and agriculture may benefit in places such as Canada and Scandinavia, though at some cost in psychological and cultural disruption. “Very bitterly cold winters will be less common in some places,” he says, “but instead of a nice blanket of white snow, they will have slush.”
5. Baseball players will become more aggressive
That was just what Richard Larrick of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, along with his co-authors, found…. In theory, hot weather might increase the incidence of wild pitches by affecting pitchers’ control (distracting them, or making their palms sweaty), but that’s not what the study focused on. Instead, it found that after one or more batters were hit, intentionally or not, hot weather made it more likely that the opposing pitcher would retaliate later in the game. “What’s interesting is that the same act–your teammate being hit by a pitch–seems to mean something different in a hot temperature than a low one,” Larrick says. “An ambiguous act now seems more provocative when your own mind is in turmoil because of the heat.”
6. Up to one billion climate refugees will stalk the earth, possibly like the scary zombies in World War Z.
There may be hordes of climate refugees, fleeing homes on islands and coasts made uninhabitable by climate change–anywhere from 25 million to 1 billion people by 2050, according to the International Organization for Migration.
As Watts Up With That notes, this upper estimate is spectacularly impressive given that as recently as 2009 the International Organization for Migration was predicting a mere 200 million climate refugees by 2050. (Number of climate refugees created to date by global warming? 0). At this rate of increase, the entire population will in fact by climate refugees by 2050.
Here, from The Smithsonian’s website, is what we know about its founder.
The Smithsonian Institution was established with funds from JamesSmithson (1765-1829), a British scientist who left his estate to theUnited States to found “at Washington, under the name of the SmithsonianInstitution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.”
Smithson, the illegitimate child of a wealthy Englishman, hadtraveled much during his life, but had never once set foot on Americansoil. Why, then, would he decide to give the entirety of his sizableestate–which totaled half a million dollars, or 1/66 of the UnitedStates’ entire federal budget at the time–to a country that was foreignto him?
Some speculate it was because he was denied his father’slegacy. Others argue that he was inspired by the United States’experiment with democracy. Some attribute his philanthropy to idealsinspired by such organizations as the Royal Institution, which wasdedicated to using scientific knowledge to improve human conditions.Smithson never wrote about or discussed his bequest with friends orcolleagues, so we are left to speculate on the ideals and motivations ofa gift that has had such significant impact on the arts, humanities,and sciences in the United States.
And that eerie, earthy rumble you can hear? That, almost certainly, will be the sound of this distinguished scientist and philanthropist turning in his grave.