3000 AD: The Rise Of Polar Civilizations

The river of time flows on, and empires crumble, leaving behind only legend that becomes myth, while new polities arise to take their place. This process of decay and creation is going to receive a boost from “peak energy” and, above all, climate change – which will redraw the maps of power to an extent unprecedented since the end of the last Ice Age. Throughout recorded history, the centers of advanced civilization have seesawed east and west, but remained constrained within a “band of habitability” that did not extend much further north than Oslo, St.-Petersburg, or Harbin. If the pessimistic scenarios of AGW come true, this band will become inverted: the tropics and mid-latitudes will become increasingly drought-stricken, desolate wastelands, perhaps even uninhabitable by 2300, while the Arctic regions, and a thawing Greenland and Antarctica, will become new centers of global civilization.

In this post, with the help of many maps, I will explore what this will mean in more detail than I believe has been done anywhere else on the Web. Needless to say, I am making the assumption that there will be no technological singularity, or other technological breakthrough, that will enable the continuation of modern high-energy civilization. But not will these be any all-out apocalypse. That part of the technological base that does not rely on high levels of energy inputs for its maintenance will survive, that is, railways, electricity generated by hydropower, radios, even elementary computing. So let us venture forth into the brave new world of 3000 AD!

The Rise of the Poles

The first major transformation that I want to emphasize is that people will stop thinking of the world as they currently do.

world-map

This would make no sense when population levels in the equators and mid-latitudes plummet due to constant drought and heat stress that actually makes mammalian life unviable during the summer months. Let’s start with basics: temperatures under full humidity cannot exceed the body’s if you want to survive.

real-world-heat-stress-map

Today, the entire world fulfills this basic requirement. The same cannot be said of a world that is 11-12C warmer; at that point, a “belt of uninhabitability” will encircle the world.

simulated-world-heat-stress-map

As you can see above, life will become impossible within the interiors of the Eastern US, much of the interior of South America, northern Africa, large swathes of the Middle East, India, eastern China, and Australia. It will also get a great deal more uncomfortable almost everywhere else. Note how Siberia becomes as oppressively hot as the Ganges river plain today.

Furthermore, you need a constant source of water to sustain large-scale agriculture. Where this is impossible, as in the US Great Plains or much of the Middle East, there is a reliance on runoff from mountain snow-packs (the Himalayas, for instance, feed the great Chinese and Indian rivers) or fossil aquifers (as in the US Great Plains, or large parts of the Middle East and India today).

drought-map-2000

The world’s water situation will become a lot worse under extreme AGW, at least until plant life adapts and re-greens the southern regions (but this will take many tens of millennia at the very least).

drought-map-2100

As you can see from the map above, agriculture will become impossible in most of the world’s current breadbaskets. India will be too hot to survive in, despite its plentiful rainfall. Agriculture will largely be confined to what is now Alaska, northern Canada, Scandinavia, Siberia, northern China, and East Africa (as well as newly deglaciated Greenland and Antarctica).

But what’s more, quite a lot of the newly opened up areas will be flooded due to sea level rise. Below is a map of the effects of all the ice melting.

world-ice-free

This shows that two major regions that may have become (or remained) suitable for intensive agriculture will become flooded, such as much of what is now northern Argentina and the West Siberian Lowlands. On the other hand, they may go Dutch and salvage quite a lot of these territories by land reclamation. Also, the Caspian Sea and Aral Sea are obviously not going to expand as shown above, because they are internal and none of the extra water from melted icecaps is going to find its way into them; to the contrary, they will more likely vanish, leaving behind salted, desert wastelands.

But this is not all. A much warmer world will have much stronger storms, such as hypercanes. Originating from locally warmed ocean waters, they feature 800km/h (F9) winds and can traverse the globe several times leaving behind a trail of destruction. This will make civilization in Argentina difficult to achieve, as any dykes the agriculturalists build will be overwhelmed by the 18m storm surges generated by these hypercanes. Same goes for South-Eastern China, Borneo, and Papua New Guinea. On the other hand, the Arctic region will be much safer, because there will not be enough heat energy to sustain the hypercanes that far north; likewise, regions blocked off by mountains, such as East Africa, may also prosper, relatively speaking.

Finally, enclosed sea regions such as the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Baltic Sea, and the Caribbean Sea may become anoxic dead zones due to the shut-off of ocean circulation. But presumably any coastal dwellers will have long since left anyway.

All that said, it will be logical that – with the exception of whatever civilization happens to occupy East Africa, Antarctica, and perhaps Patagonia – the peoples of the world will cluster around the Arctic and will come to think of their world as one that is centered at the North Pole.

arctic-transformation

Indeed, people may no longer even think of world in terms of traditional concepts such as east, west, north or south. They may instead think horizontally (“Let’s go left, to Alaska,” says a traveler in Labrador) and vertically (“I think I want to either go down to see the ruins of Delhi this summer, then go up to the beaches of Novaya Zemlya,” says a rich aristocrat living in a city on the Yenisei flood plain).

Polar Civilizations

What will these post-high exergy, post-AGW civilizations look like? Much will depend on the geographic and climatic peculiarities of the entities in question. Let’s start off by listing the possible centers of powerful civilizations.

  • Scandinavia
  • Ob-Yenisei (West Siberian Lowlands between the Purana and the Urals)
  • Lena (Central Siberian Plain up to the river Lena)
  • Kolyma (maybe includes Anadyr; Kamchatka)
  • Amur (plus Heilongjiang, Sakhalin, North Korea)
  • Lake Baikal; Lake Balkash; Tian Shan statelets
  • Vorkuta (north-east of European Russia)
  • Alaska
  • Greenland
  • Canadian Archipelago
  • Labrador (along with Nova Scotia, Newfoundland)
  • Hudson Bay
  • The Eastern Rockies (to the far north)
  • East Africa
  • Patagonia
  • Antarctica
  • Though they remain cool enough, the regions of North California and the Himalayas will be unlikely to maintain high-level civilizations because they will be in permanent drought.

Below is a map of the Arctic region around 3000 AD, showing risen sea levels and a deglaciated Greenland.

arctic-far-future

The nature of the states and empires that will come to occupy this Arctic world will depend heavily on specific geographies and the patterns that have traditionally been associated with them. For instance:

  1. Massive flood plains and land reclamation, as may be expected in West Siberia, are typically pushed through by bureaucratic, authoritarian states (called “hydraulic despotisms” by Wittfogel). They tend to be populated by many peasants living near the edge of subsistence, feeding a religious, administrative, and military class that works to consolidate the country from internal rebellions and outside invasions.
  2. Bay regions, such as that of the Hudson Bay, and islands, as in the Canadian Archipelago, tend to be more diverse and disunited. Probably no single empire will consolidate them all under its control.
  3. There is a constant historical theme of conflict between lowlanders and highlanders. This may be resumed, though for different reasons. Historically, nomads frequently invaded and enslaved riverine peasant populations thanks to their craving of their material goods, emphasis on martial values, and protein-rich diets. In the far future, the highland nations in places like Kolyma or Alaska will be far more energy rich than in West Siberia or around the Hudson Bay, because they will have an abundance of the major remaining source of electric power: hydropower. Their populations will also be healthier, having access to more calories and being farther away from the diseases flitting across the tropical lowlands. If they can unite, their power will far outclass those of lowland empires, despite their lower populations.
  4. The other major historical enmity relevant to this world is that between sedentary people and desert nomads. Unlike the highlanders, the desert nomads will pose only a minimal threat. Nomads do not have manufacturing bases, and in a world in which guns and heavy weapons continue to be used in warfare, they cannot do anything more than harass border settlements.

Bearing these issues in mind, this is what I expect the geopolitical configuration of the world in 3000 AD to look like.

arctic-map

The West Siberian Lowlands between the Ob and the Yenisei, and the regions around the Lena River, will be an empire with resemblances to that of Egypt: heavily dependent on rivers and irrigation for agriculture in a region that would otherwise be desert, and obliged to support a big elite caste to manage said waterworks. These two river basins may well be united under one mega-empire, for the Central Siberian Plateau does not represent a serious impediment to communications between the West Siberian Lowlands and the Lena valley.

Kolyma will be able to sustain another major hydraulic civilization, and likely a more productive one because its hydropower potential relative to the population its river basin can sustain is greater than is the case in Siberia; and because Kolyma’s mineral base will be exhausted later than Siberia’s because it won’t be exploited as soon due to its remoteness. Kolyma will probably have hostile relations with the empire(s) to its west because of its logical desire to secure the Lena River. Separated from them by mountain ranges, Kolyma is probably unlikely to be united with smaller mountain states such as the ones that will appear in and around current-day Anadyr, Kamchatka, and Magadan.

eurasia

Most states to the south of Kolyma will be poor, being landlocked deep within Eurasia. The major exception is the the Amur region stretching to the origins of the Lena river, and including Sakhalin and modern-day Heilongjiang, which I expect to form the foundations of a respectable Great Power.

We may expect smaller entities to form around Lake Baikal, and the Altai Region, and what are now the countries of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. They have adequate rainfall, and can raid Siberia’s underbelly for food and slaves. A major Power is unlikely to appear in the Himalayas.  It is predicted to be a drought-stricken area, and under catastrophic AGW the mountains will lose all their snow, so irrigation agriculture will also be impossible. Crops may find it hard to grow at such high altitudes.

Already being somewhat settled, any resources in Scandinavia will have long since been depleted in Scandinavia by 3000 AD – with the possible exception of the Kola Peninsula, which has one of the world’s greatest concentrations of Rare Earth Metals. What is North-East Russia will also be similarly exhausted, and in addition will be buffeted by hypercanes coming up from the Atlantic and racing over a flooded northern Europe: not shielded by mountains, as are the West Siberian Lowlands and much of Scandinavia, they will bear the brunt of these fearsome tempests.

greenland

Once it thaws, Greenland will have a geography to die for. Multiple awesome harbors? Check. Internal lake massively lowering internal transport costs, allowing for ease of capital accumulation? Check. Secure from external threats? Check. Many mountains that will provide hydroelectric power (and block hypercanes)? Check. Full of minerals that will take a long time to start exploiting? Check.

I fully expect whoever gets Greenland to develop the Arctic world’s most developed economy and navy, and perhaps even become its predominant superpower.

canada-map

Alaska will presumably go much the way of Kolyma – a set of states, possible competing, possible confederating, all of them rich in relative terms because of the plentiful rainfall, mountains, and resources that will only start getting exploited late in the world’s history. There may be naval skirmishes between Alaskans and whoever wants to challenge them for control of the Bering Strait from the Kolyma side.

Canada will be a relatively poor set of competing entities, divided primarily into four groups: (1) the Rockies states centered around the great Canadian lakes, which try to eke out an existence by whatever they can dredge from any mines still bearing lodes (their north will be buffeted by the remnants of hypercanes billowing through Vorkuta and across the Arctic, and their south will be harassed by nomadic raiders from the desertified Great Plains); (2) the disparate collection of sultanates, slave plantations, foreign naval bases, and pirate strongholds that will claim control over the Canadian Archipelago; (3) the competing lowland states clustering around what is today the Hudson Bay, with no resources or sources of energy, their trade strangled by pirates from the Archipelago and their border settlements attacked by southern raiders; and (4) the state that will appear in Labrador. This state, which may or may not also include what is now Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, will have rolling hill-lands and will likely be the only respectable Power on the American continent apart from Alaska.

antarctica-map-no-ice

Elsewhere, the only region I expect to have a chance of becoming powerful is what is now Antarctica once it melts; however, contacts with the Arctic region will be difficult, passing through a world of desert wasteland on land and sea, so it may technologically regress to a greater extent than is the case in the northern hemisphere. Regardless, despite its formidable extent and industrial potential, it is hard to imagine Antarctica playing power politics in the Arctic from the other side of a long-deglobalized world.

The only two other regions outside the polar regions that may continue to support advanced civilizations are East Africa and, perhaps, Patagonia. However, they are both isolated, and unlike Antarctica, do not have the territorial extent to constitute their own world empires. They will fall far behind, and most of their energies will be preoccupied by the single imperative of arresting civilizational collapse.

Conclusion

In a very real sense, catastrophic AGW truly will create a new world. And it will not necessarily be uniformly apocalyptic in the style of Mad Max and Waterworld (though there’ll be plenty of that). Some regions may prosper, like Kolyma or Alaska, and a few, like Greenland, may even offer their citizens a quality of life comparable to 20th century standards. Others will be populated by peasants eking out a subsistence existence, as in West Siberia and much of Canada. As one goes further south, civilization fades away, and as one ventures into what is now modern Afghanistan or Spain or south of the Great Lakes, even survival becomes impossible during the summer months. Away from the Arctic, civilization will live on live on in isolated pockets if that.

Whereas it is possible to make some informed deductions as to the geopolitics and political economies of certain regions in a warmed world, this becomes an almost purely speculative affair once we move onto national specifics, such as culture, language, ethnicities, or religion. Presumably, the descents of today’s Americans, Europeans (especially Anglo-Saxons and Germanics), Russians, Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese will be relatively well-represented. The same cannot be said of peoples now living in the Middle East, India, or Africa. Even if the northern Powers let in their climate refugees, it is hard to believe they will give them an equal footing with the indigenous inhabitants; more plausibly, today’s ethnic Russians and Canadians will become the aristocrats or military and priestly castes of countries transforming into hydraulic despotisms on the backbones of southern immigrants exchanging survival for serfdom.

It is at this point that futurism ends, and fantasy begins.

Comments

  1. Quick question: what about plants and animal species of land and ocean? Which will survive, etc.?

    • Most sea creatures will die because of ocean acidification. So islands, which traditionally rely on a lot of sea-food, will play a largely marginal role.

      On land, there will also be a lot of extinctions. Those species that have nowhere to go (e.g. polar bears) will go extinct. Other flora and fauna shift their zones of habitation north, assuming that they can keep pace with the warming.

      But there may be some new species, e.g. whatever remains of the results of 21st century bioengineered constructs.

  2. Very interesting! Although, more interested to see the world configured in 2100, than 3000. In fact, I think many of the hypothesis you make re: a polar world will be evident in another three or four decades.

  3. sinotibetan says:

    Hmmmm…..

    Interesting and futuristic but I would not dare foresee so far.
    Also:-
    1.) I don’t know(and hence do not believe completely) that global warming is wholly or even primarily anthropogenic, although that’s supposedly a consensus opinion. That there is ‘global climatic change’ is not deniable but I don’t think that scientists really know the complex dynamics of the earth’s climate to state confident predictions. I’d be non-committal with regards to human activities contributing primarily to global warming.
    2.)Even if it’s true that global warming is due to human activities, I think we are at higher likelihood of destroying our current civilizations in nuclear wars and annihilating a significant proportion of humanity before we reach the 3000AD world you envisage. Moreover, there is a possibility of new plagues(i.e. new infectious diseases) killing of a significant proportion of the world population as well. A decimated human population would reduce global warming if it’s true that such is due mostly from human activities. Influenza virus A antigenic shift is just one example who a new virus strain can cause pandemics. As humans encroach forests, they will encounter previously unknown pathogens. When pathogens ‘jump species host’, the disease would be severe and usually fatal… eg. Nipahvirus of the henipavirus family and SARS virus of the coronavirus family(in the past human coronaviruses were not thought to give rise to fatal disease[human coronaviruses are one group of viruses causing 'common cold' apart from the rhinoviruses and adenoviruses]) Imagine if it’s air-borne like SARS and as highly contagious as rhinoviruses. It’s interesting to note that we have synthesized many anti-bacterial compounds but our armamentarium against viruses(save for certain influenza viruses, HIV, hepadnaviridae, Hepatitis C etc.) are few. We are not ready if an emergent virus were to emerge in which a majority of mankind has no innate resistance. Populations in less developed nations will be greatly destroyed and the advanced nations would have their health systems saturated – though I’d expect more survivors there.

    sinotibetan

  4. AK, this was a pretty cool post. It would make a good basis for a great science fiction novel or movie. Definitely more realistic than that awful “2012” movie that I saw (for the first time) on HBO about two weeks ago.

    In my version of this dystopian novel “3000 AD,” our heroes are several families trying to flee the northern hemisphere which is about to tilt into a full-blown war fought with bio-weapons (civilization having lost the ability to produce nukes). Small pox is back, having been released in the late 21st century in the World War III by the remnants of the USA, Russia, China and North Korea, all of whom had the virus stored in secret vaults. Since no vaccine was available, more than 80% of the world’s population died. But the new bioweapon is some variation of ebola.

    Trying to make it to the southern hemisphere proves challenging, given the large zone of inhabitability surrounding the equator. Only possibility to cross the equator is at high altitude, or underwater – not sure which one I’d choose. Remember that much of modern technology has been lost, though there are remnants,

    • That sounds like an interesting scenario.

      Incidentally, one of my long-term ambitions DOES the writing of a speculative fiction series set in the kind of Arctic world depicted in the post.

      • Sounds like an overlap of Stephen King’s “The Stand”, and “The Cobra Event” by Richard Preston. The latter was literally a random discovery for me; I used to go to the library and pull three or four books at random, just to discover new authors and new interests. I read the first couple of chapters of a lot of shitty books that way, but I also discovered authors like Richard Preston and absorbing stories like The Cobra Event.

        Even if land was reclaimed from the sea as you describe, it’d likely be too salty to grow most of the agricultural crops we rely on today. Unless the flooding caused the oceans’ salinity to be greatly diluted, a possibility I didn’t see mentioned although I may have missed it. Very interesting and detailed post.

  5. sinotibetan says:

    AK,

    Although I’m not a true-blue ‘global warming skeptic’ and am no climate scientist(hence neither has the expertise nor time to examine all data on climate science, thus cannot take on any firm convictions on the issue), I am quite skeptical of the claims of global warming alarmists. To me, climate scientists have to deal with too many variables to make any RELIABLE conclusions on the future planet earth say even more than 50 years from now. The earth’s atmosphere and ecosystem is far too complex and the variables far too many to make DEFINITIVE assumptions. Hence, I have to say although your futuristic posts are interesting, I am skeptical they will come to pass. Care to address some issues?

    1.) I think there is no possibility of proving CAUSALITY in terms of global warming. Too many factors(natural and anthropogenic) may or may not contribute to global warming.
    Have climate scientists PROVEN an association of anthropogenic(and not natural) rise of CO2 to global warming and discounting all other ‘natural’ sources of CO2 or other substances that may contribute to global warming? Also,proof of association does NOT equate to proof of causality. One giant volcanic eruption (in one of those ‘supervolcanoes) can mitigate all anthropogenic CO2 emissions in a flash. Instead, there might be a ‘global freeze’ and ‘global darkness’ to kill off many.
    2.)As I rambled on about emergent diseases and the like(I happen to be involved in the medical field) in my earlier post, another issue is that IF even global warming is anthropogenic, there is the uncertainty that human civilizations(that contribute to the global warming if the theory is true) would remain to contribute to the eventual 3000AD scenario you put forth. Apart from viruses and emergent diseases(which I think will strike us at any time), global conflicts(ideological, religious, resource grabbing etc.; I think these will be more likely to happen in the near future) will help decimate a huge proportion of humanity. Also, Europe, N. America and East Asia will experience population shrinkage or even implosion(eg. China, Korea, Japan) in the near future. S.Korea and Japan has FAILED to revive their TFR and I predict the same will happen in China in a grand scale. These will reduce human population in the future. Certain regions like Latin America and South East Asia are already in demographic transition and very soon will join Europe and East Asia in population shrinking. Middle East still has higher TFR(and slower reductions) but it too will soon reach below-replacement TFR by the end of 21st Century. Middle East population might also be decimated by future religious/ideological wars(with the West, I predict) and if ‘global warming’ turn out true….drought. As for TFR reduction refractory Africa…..overpopulation would mean – increasing African migrants who will NOT be welcomed by their host countries when they become too many, emergent diseases decimating African populations(i.e. high fertility but even higher mortality) due to poor health-care, increasing conflicts and wars among rival groups for diminishing resources of expanding populations, famines, etc. etc. This would ultimately lead not to global population expansion of Malthusian proportions but actually global population stagnation or even shrinkage. If human population increases ‘beyond’ nature’s ability to ‘cope’, ‘nature’ has so-called ‘cruel’ means to decimate populations to maintain equilibrium. So, I think….BEFORE we can reach such a scenario you envisage, a majority of mankind would have self-destruct. New civilizations might grow but I don’t think it will be in the Arctic or Antarctic. With low, below-replacement TFRs of Russians, Europeans, Koreans, Japanese and Chinese…..they won’t be able to stop desperate migrants from the south who certainly will be ruthless and murderous(because they are desperate) and IN MORE NUMBERS(due to higher TFRs in the south, even though many would have perished) …so I think if your scenario happens, the Northerners are the ones who will be extinct(by being subjugated and forced to abandon their ethnic identities as southern nationalities swarm the north).
    3.) If your scenario emerges in 3000AD, human civilizations will be FAR LESS advanced than today and far less populated by today—-probably numbering by the millions and not even hundreds of millions. Why? Because most would be decimated and annihilated way before that 3000AD scenario. Also, the ‘belt of livability’ you envisage will not be able to take in BILLIONS of humans. A much reduced land mass is one. The quality of soil that can be used for agriculture in those areas are inferior yielding less than present agricultural land. Probably life-stock might survive but will not be sufficient to feed hundreds of millions. Also, even though temperature rises to BALMY tropical climes in Arctic shores(which I seriously doubt will ever take place), darkness(due to high latitudes) still encompass most months of the year rendering such places hostile to agriculture on a grand scale to feed millions…what more billions of people.

    Websites of some AGW skeptics.

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0809/0809.3762.pdf

    http://www.populartechnology.net/2009/10/peer-reviewed-papers-supporting.html

    http://joannenova.com.au/2011/03/new-here-the-ten-second-guide-to-the-world-of-skeptics/

    http://www.drroyspencer.com/global-warming-natural-or-manmade/

    Some dissenting views is always good for the soul. ;)

    sinotibetan

  6. Interesting post. A few comments. The ‘lake’ in the middle of Greenland, is only there because of the weight of the overlying ice. Melt the ice and the elastic rebound with remove the lake. It’s also pretty unlikely for Greenland to be ice free by 3000AD. You also don’t mention the darkness that befalls the Arctic Circle. Continuous periods of darkness are very hard for plants to deal with (not to mention people). Plants continue to respire in the dark but because they can’t photosynthesis just run out of energy and die. The only way around this is to pull the temperatures down with the darkness.

    I’d be interested to hear what you think about climate change and especially CO2 emission scenarios and “peak oil”. With fairly constrained fossil fuel production rates – oil and gas peaking within decades, coal well within the century – do you think there’s enough carbon, or more realistically do the available fossil fuel production trajectories (and their impact on civilization) support the high end global warming scenarios?

    • Thanks for the comment.

      Melt the ice and the elastic rebound with remove the lake.

      That looks like it would need quite a big rebound to do that, though I trust you on that as you’re the glaciology expert. By how much do you think it will be?

      The only way around this is to pull the temperatures down with the darkness.

      Surely it will be pretty cool when it’s dark though, what with the Sun not being there? Besides, I would imagine the crop cycles would be concentrated during the daylight part of the year?

      I’d be interested to hear what you think about climate change and especially CO2 emission scenarios and “peak oil”. … do you think there’s enough carbon, or more realistically do the available fossil fuel production trajectories (and their impact on civilization) support the high end global warming scenarios?

      By themselves, no. However, there are currently multiple feedbacks not included in the IPCC models (e.g. the release of Arctic methane and ocean clathrates; the desiccation of the Amazon, and many of the world’s forests turning from C sinks to sources), likewise the climate’s sensitivity to growing atm. CO2 concentrations may have been underestimated due to the global dimming effect. Bearing these in mind, I think that the high end scenarios remain realistic, despite the limited quantities of hydrocarbons.

  7. sinotibetan says:

    AK,

    “You also don’t mention the darkness that befalls the Arctic Circle. Continuous periods of darkness are very hard for plants to deal with (not to mention people). Plants continue to respire in the dark but because they can’t photosynthesis just run out of energy and die. The only way around this is to pull the temperatures down with the darkness.”
    “Surely it will be pretty cool when it’s dark though, what with the Sun not being there? Besides, I would imagine the crop cycles would be concentrated during the daylight part of the year?”
    a.) Pulling the temperatures down with the darkness does not increase the viability of plant life. The problem is the lack of light rather than temperature only – without it, plants cannot survive.
    b.)The amount of sunlight received at such latitudes during the daylight part of the year is still less intense (probably about similar to the intensity of twilight ~ 20 the intensity of the equator perhaps)compared to lower latitudes. Probably would not be enough sunlight to promote wide-scale agriculture in spite of higher summer temperatures.

    sinotibetan

  8. sinotibetan says:

    I meant “~ 20% the intensity of the equator perhaps”

    sinotibetan

  9. sinotibetan says:

    Justification: >60 degrees North or >60 degrees South, sun irradiation will be less than 40-50% of the sun irradiation in the equator. Above the Arctic circle, it should be ~20-30% as I estimated.

    http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/EnergyBalance/page2.php

    http://academic.cengage.com/resource_uploads/downloads/0495555061_137179.pdf

    sinotibetan

  10. kalevipoeg says:

    sinotibetan,
    today’s reports from Umea write about ripe strawberries in gardens. Umea is on the 64th latitude north.

    Anecdotic evidence from Estonia (~58 latitude) shows that any long warm spell during winter initiates plant growth, including winter crops and flowers. And without snowcover the grass stays green.

    There are many winter days when the daily average and max temps in southern Greenland are actually warmer than in San Francisco.

    As to Sun irradiation in the Arctic, look here:
    http://neven1.typepad.com/blog/2011/03/open-thread-7-time-to-dehibernate.html?cid=6a0133f03a1e37970b014e5fb7c9f4970c#comment-6a0133f03a1e37970b014e5fb7c9f4970c

    http://stratus.ssec.wisc.edu/projects/d1fluxes/d1fluxes.html

    [Integrated over the entire 7 month 'illumination' period, the Arctic receives about 3.0 GJ/m^2 of energy. And this is pretty consistent over the entire Arctic basin area.]

    sinotibetan wrote:
    /* b.)The amount of sunlight received at such latitudes during the daylight part of the year is still less intense (probably about similar to the intensity of twilight ~ 20 the intensity of the equator perhaps) compared to lower latitudes. Probably would not be enough sunlight to promote wide-scale agriculture in spite of higher summer temperatures. */

    Lower latitudes only have more intense sunlight during middays (up to 6-10 hours?). Lower latitudes can’t compete during morning and evening hours.
    Estonian summer solstice is 18,5h long, the summer solstice night is as light as a really foggy day (as today).
    The North Pole gets sunlight 24/7/183.

    Currently the primary limitation for growing plants in northern latitudes is snowcover and nightfrost.
    Light is limiting only within the Arctic circle and only during the dark half-year.
    Summer max temps are already above 30C – in Greenland, northern Scandinavia, northern Siberia, Alaska. There are a few summer nights each year when night temps do not fall below 20C. Now add +10C to those temps and you should start to worry about heatwaves.

    However, not all northern areas have good soil for agriculture (Canada, Viena Karelia, Siberian mountains, Greenland).

  11. sinotibetan says:

    kalevipoeg,

    Thanks for your comments! Interesting.
    I concur with your points except a few clarifications:-
    1.)”Light is limiting only within the Arctic circle and only during the dark half-year.”
    I meant Arctic circle and north to that would still be unlikely to be ‘centers of civilization’ even if(and that’s a very big if, in my opinion)AK’s predictions come to pass. Above the Arctic, even though there’s 24 hours/day daylight but the sun rays are too feeble to support wide scale agricultural pursuits to support a large human population. If AK’s scenario becomes reality in the future, I think the 50-60 degrees latitudes would be the most habitable rather than north to the Arctic or south of the Antarctic.
    2.)”Integrated over the entire 7 month ‘illumination’ period, the Arctic receives about 3.0 GJ/m^2 of energy. And this is pretty consistent over the entire Arctic basin area.”
    Just a few questions:-
    a.) The integrated amount of energy includes (visible) light and other electromagnetic wavelengths and heat, yes? Photosynthesis in most land plants depend on certain wavelengths of light. Those outside the wavelengths are not involved in photosynthetic processes. I still think the amount of LIGHT(not ‘total energy’) from the sun at the Arctic and above remains insufficient…in spite of warmer temperatures….to support plant life suited for wide-scale agricultural pursuits.
    b.)Assuming CO2 is the main culprit for global warming as for now(excluding the release of other greenhouse gasses emanating from melting permafrost should CO2-driven global warming persists) and also assuming that humans chop off far too much land plants – I wonder why other NON-PLANTAE , autothropic protistan organisms in aquatic habitats cannot compensate for the loss of land plants. I always think of the biosphere as a dynamic system able to compensate for any excesses or deficits. With ‘ocean warming’, mesophilic and thermophilic photoautotrophs can thrive and thus adsorb the excess CO2 and thus offset CO2 increase. I still do not think that humans ALONE have enough impact to account for current climatic changes and actually am not convinced CO2 is to be solely blamed for the warming. If AK’s predictions are true….it’s actually doom for mankind still. A fully ‘decompensated’ climatic equilibrium would lead us down the path of a Hellish, inhabitable, sterile and lifeless Venusian atmosphere.

    sinotibetan

    • In most of the ocean algae are not limited by sun light or CO2 but by minerals. That is why there are plans to dump iron dust in the ocean. Also if a place is to hot for life then there will be more runoff of soil. This will lead to more minerals in the ocean and more algae. Those algae absorb CO2 and thus are a brake on the green house effect.

  12. kalevipoeg says:

    sinotibetan,

    there is ample light near the Arctic circle for wide scale agriculture.
    Some of the best agricultural lands are at the northern shores of the Bay of Bothnia, at 66 latitude north.
    Trust me, currently the main limiting factor of agricultural season is snowcover and night frosts, not light deficiencies.
    And You would be surprised by how many black people complain about the heat of the sun during our summertime in Estonia. Due to inclination, a small hat only covers one’s head, not the body. It is not the intensity, it is the endurance. One can easily manage 90 minutes in a sauna at 90C, but not 24 hours at 50C.

    Of course, if by wide scale agriculture you mean 2-3 crops per year from one land, then that is at the moment out of the question. 2 crops per year might be possible in the future.

    /* “I still think the amount of LIGHT(not ‘total energy’) from the sun at the Arctic and above remains insufficient…in spite of warmer temperatures….to support plant life suited for wide-scale agricultural pursuits.” */

    Lets go further north to the Arctic Ocean.
    I seem to recall that there have been extensive blooms of plankton between northern 70-80 latitudes.
    The only limiting factor there seems to be the receding sea ice cover.

    And as I also seem to recall, the northern shore of Greenland used to be covered by a forest before ice-ages set in.

    By the way, the ocean does absorb about 50% of the human-emitted CO2.
    As the oceans warm, their carrying capacity of CO2 decreases and the oceans will eventually start to outgas CO2. The biosphere is only able to compensate at rather narrow bounds. The Goldilocks region assumes that the climate sensitivity is not a constant, but an upwardly open parabole – move further away from the center (where we used to be) and it becomes increasingly difficult to return. You can return from the low end, but not from the high end after oceans have boiled away.

    And that is why in my understanding it would be much more difficult (and less likely) to stop at +11C than at +5C , because +11C is further away from the center of climate insensitivity. Venusian future is not out of the question after +14+16C.

    As to the AK scenario, growing good soils at high latitudes takes centuries and millennia.

  13. sinotibetan says:

    Dear Charly and kalevipoeg,

    Thanks for the comments.
    1.)”Those algae absorb CO2 and thus are a brake on the green house effect.”
    I think these algae would be a good way to reduce global warming …and it’s essentially ‘natural’ and inexpensive.
    2.)”And You would be surprised by how many black people complain about the heat of the sun during our summertime in Estonia.”
    “One can easily manage 90 minutes in a sauna at 90C, but not 24 hours at 50C.”
    Hmmm….I thought the average summer temperature is 16-18C in Estonia?(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Estonia)
    Whereas, where I come from, it is more than 30C most of the time with average 27C(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_Malaysia)
    I once visited Berlin during summer – it was COLD(temperature average about 16C then) for me. I guess those blacks are Americans from Minnesota perhaps(rather than from equatorial Africa which has temperature from 26-28C like Nigeria -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_of_Nigeria#Climate)?
    If temperature reaches 50C 24 hours in Arctic, mankind is (literally) toast.
    3.)”I seem to recall that there have been extensive blooms of plankton between northern 70-80 latitudes.”
    Again, that’s plankton….and that’s PROTISTAN, not land plants. Photoautothrophic protistans require less light than land plants. Also, you did not specify whether those plankton blooms are due to cryophilic genera or mesophilic ones. There are also chemoautotrophic organisms that do not rely on light to synthesize food.
    Moreover, these extensive blooms could be due to chemoautotrophs, or part of a natural process. Also, warmer seas, rather than light availability is associated with ‘spring blooms'(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spring_bloom)
    4.)”By the way, the ocean does absorb about 50% of the human-emitted CO2.
    As the oceans warm, their carrying capacity of CO2 decreases and the oceans will eventually start to outgas CO2.”
    IF our oceans are made up of STERILE, ABIOTIC water, then your scenario is probably right on. However, as I’ve said , we cannot exclude the influence of phytoplanktons and chemoautotrophic planktons in the oceans. As ocean temperature rises, mesophilic phytoplanktons are bound to bloom. These will use up CO2 as well. Hence, I still believe that the excess CO2 can be somehow mitigated.
    5.)”Trust me, currently the main limiting factor of agricultural season is snowcover and night frosts, not light deficiencies.”
    Not that I mean to ‘distrust’ anyone – but anecdotal ‘evidences'(like how I felt about Berlin’s summertime [lack of] ‘heat’ or blacks complaining of sweltering heat in summertime Tallinn etc.) are not ‘proofs’ enough. I don’t deny that snowcover and night frosts inhibit plant growth….but do you have scientific evidence that light deficiency does not inhibit the growth of most angiosperms? Lichens, shrubs , bryophytes and photosynthetic protistans CAN grow in light-deficient areas but not most angiosperms(of which most agricultural plants belong to).
    6.)”Of course, if by wide scale agriculture you mean 2-3 crops per year from one land, then that is at the moment out of the question. 2 crops per year might be possible in the future.”
    Certainly out of the question now. I still think it’s out of the question in the far future. Partly, you’ve answered it yourself : “growing good soils at high latitudes takes centuries and millennia.” I’m still unconvinced that heat ALONE can replace summertime light deficiency in the polar areas.

    sinotibetan

  14. I believe that New Zealand’s South Island would remain habitable but, as today, would be so isolated as to not take part in much international diplomacy/civilisation.

    The thing that you have not addressed is the role of disease. The tropical regions are disease ridden if the tropical zones move north then I would expect those diseases to move with them.

    The French inadvertently ran an experiment to see what happens to malnourished Caucasians in the tropics by trying to build the Panama canal with French labourers. 95% stuck in my mind but I can’t remember if that was off sick (unable to labour) or dead, the British did similar things trying to colonise the West Indies.

    This has major implications if climate change happened quickly enough then large areas of the northern hemisphere could very rapidly be depopulated under a scenario similar to what happened to the American Indians with the arrival of European diseases. This would leave the land to be occupied by people who were more disease resistant (people from the tropics) But that would mean less scientific knowledge would be retained and a lot more information/industrial processes would be lost.

    I would personally be surprised if in 1000 years humanity had started to rebuild its civilisation to the extent that you suggest.

    Also the effective separation of northern and southern hemisphere is a speciation event for humanity but that is with much longer time periods.

  15. Interesting post. I would however like to point out that, as far as I’m aware, there’s no actual evidence that hypercanes ever have or ever could form. Granted something like this may have occurred in the early years of the planet’s existence where the atmosphere was unstable … it may have even happened during the dinosaur era after the asteroid impact since the elements needed to form a hypercane were present as a result of the impact …. But think of the enormous amounts of heat required to heat a body of water 200 – 300 miles wide up to a temperature of 120 F … Water has a very high sp. heat. I think only an asteroid impact that tears a gaping hole in the Earth can do that. And if it takes an impact that big for them to form, they’re the least of our worries.

  16. sinotibetan says:

    I have finally managed to find a criticism of the alarmist paper by Sherwood and Huber which Anatoly largely based his conclusions on.

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/2010/05/13/comments-on-the-study-researchers-find-future-temperatures-could-exceed-livable-limits/

    http://pielkeclimatesci.wordpress.com/main-conclusions-2/

    I am no climate scientist and am in no position to have an expert opinion in both sides of the arguments but I certainly am quite skeptical of ALARMIST AGW scenarios and don’t believe there’s any strong evidence for the more alarmist scenarios. Sorry Anatoly – just don’t think there’s strong evidence.

    sinotibetan

  17. Good post – what is missing is technology— human mind is linear technology is exponential… Your analysis is linear and assume technology will follow same trend. but in 1000 year technological progress might be unimaginable.trasport to other planets, terraforming mars, cooling earth temperature by transforming co2 into o2, agriculture productivity are just examples… The real problem is not 3000 but between 2000 and 2050 where environmental damage might not be offset by technological discoveries…

  18. Spicy Pessi says:

    Don’t you think that any sort of widespread implementation of agriculture in the deglaciated lands of the Arctic would happen far beyond 3000 A.D? It would take hundreds of years for the decay of colonizing plant species to build up just a few inches of topsoil.

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