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2022.09.12 3022年将是什么样子

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发表于 2022-9-13 04:04:26 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

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The world in 1,000 years
What Peter Frankopan thinks 3022 will look like
The historian asks if climate change will again help to topple civilisations

Sep 12th 2022

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Will our species still exist in a thousand years? Humans have been pootling around on this planet for a tiny slice of its existence, so it stands to reason that at some point in the future, it will be game over for our descendants.

If our time is up long before 3022, then it would be reasonable to assume that the world would not look so very different from today. The atmosphere would be cleaner, of course, in the absence of fossil fuels being burned. The landscape would be a lot greener too, with forests, flowers and weeds reclaiming cities and towns—nature takes back its territory once people disperse or disappear. You only need to look at Tikal in Guatemala or Angkor in Cambodia, whose hundreds of thousands of inhabitants a thousand years ago would have listened in disbelief if you had told them that their cities would be filled with ghosts and tourists today. Back then they were vast metropolises at the centre of complex networks of exchange and teeming with cultural, political and military ambition.


Those cities and states fell into decline and their populations dispersed, partly because of changing climates: changes in rainfall patterns that included droughts that lasted for decades did not result in civilisational collapse—but they did add to existing pressures that made life more difficult, exacerbated rivalries, incentivised violence and reduced agricultural production. This time it is different. Such is the current rate of climate change that scientists are increasingly talking about a “sixth mass extinction”: plunging biodiversity, linked both to human exploitation of the landscape and to anthropogenic global warming, has seen a “cascading erosion” of all kinds of flora and fauna. It is startling in both scale and speed. Some animals and plants do well when others fail; that humans might fall into the former category seems doubtful.

For one thing, according to some studies, climate pressures are already “baked in”, meaning that significant warming would take place even if all emissions were halted with immediate effect. That means that we are in for sea-level rises of 11 and perhaps as many as 30 inches even if the Paris Agreement goals that were adopted in 2015 are met, and exposure to dangerous heat levels will increase by 50-100% across much of the tropics. Some are highly pessimistic about the future: one new study put the chances of limiting global average temperature change to the Paris targets at 0.1%. It seems all but inevitable then that populations will be pushed northward and southward, away from the tropics. Long-range modelling suggests that the Amazon may become a barren landscape by 2500, as temperatures continue to increase and sea levels rise by tens of metres, covering large parts of the world as we know it.


Warming is not distributed evenly around the world, and the burden will fall most heavily on the poor in low-income countries in tropical regions. The projections of what is coming towards us are chilling, with this year showing all too well what is at stake: temperatures rose above 40°C in Britain; China recorded the most severe heatwave anywhere on Earth; floods hit Pakistan with nearly 800% more rainfall than normal, affecting tens of millions of people and leaving a third of the country under water; winter temperatures in the southern hemisphere rose above 45°C in South America while temperatures in some parts of Antarctica were almost 40°C higher than average; and flash floods hit Death Valley in America, where three-quarters of a year’s average rainfall fell in just three hours. If and how we adapt will be the question of the 21st century, with the answers shaping the next millennium.

There are reasons to be optimistic that we can make it. For one thing, some new technologies might stem the damage we do to the natural environment. For another, plunging birth rates, particularly in high- and middle-income countries, means that there will be fewer of us in the future. That will ease pressure on finite resources, as well as on those that could be renewable—as long as consumption patterns do not continue to rise. This is significant given that natural resources are being expended today at a rate which means they are not being replaced. As one recent report put it, humanity currently require 1.6 Earths to maintain today’s living standards. That may change if populations fall sharply all around the world in the centuries ahead, and we all become more efficient with what we use and how we use it.

Even if the Scylla of climate change is avoided, the Charybdis of natural and other man-made disasters might sweep most of us away. Few need reminding that the prospect of military confrontation is alive and well. Even if resolutions can be found for Ukraine, Taiwan and other potential flashpoints in the coming years, it would be brave to bet against the use of nuclear weapons in a global conflict over the coming centuries. Instead the question would be how great an impact it would have—and whether it might affect the survival of our species. New climate models show that even a limited use of nuclear weapons would inject so much soot into the atmosphere that many regions would become unsuitable for agriculture for many years—and that is before factoring in escalation, which would produce a full nuclear winter and challenge human life on earth to its limits.

Consider the prospect of changing disease environments, too, which may make the covid-19 pandemic look like a cake-walk. One estimate suggests that the changing climate will leave 90% of the world’s population at risk of malaria and dengue fever by the end of this century. Although health systems in the Global North tend to be better, the recent coronavirus pandemic showed how sudden surges in demand for treatment can have dramatic impacts on primary health-care facilities, on medical staff and on equipment. Around 60% of infectious diseases are aggravated by climate hazards such as floods, droughts or shifts in marine environments. Humans must also contend with the rising resistance to antibiotics, which will result in tens of millions of deaths by 2100 and perhaps many more afterwards—unless new medicines or technologies are found.


Those of our descendants who make it past these climatic and biological milestones will find themselves living in a completely different world—one where artificial intelligence, machine learning, flying cars, bases on Mars, genetically enhanced babies and other products of science-fiction wishful thinking are less interesting and important than basic questions of survival. How many—if any—of us will be around to see it is a good question. At the rate we’ve been going, though, the world might be just as quiet as Tikal and Angkor are today—minus the tourists.■
_______________

Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University. He is the author of the forthcoming book “Climate: A Lost History” (Bloomsbury, 2023).



一千年后的世界
彼得-弗兰克潘认为3022年将是什么样子
这位历史学家问道,气候变化是否会再次帮助推翻文明。

2022年9月12日



一千年后,我们的物种还会存在吗?在这个星球上,人类只存在了一小部分,所以有理由认为,在未来的某个时间点,我们的后代将结束游戏。

如果我们的时间早在3022年之前就结束了,那么可以合理地假设,世界看起来不会与今天有太大的不同。当然,在没有燃烧化石燃料的情况下,大气将更加清洁。景观也会更绿,森林、鲜花和野草会重新占领城市和城镇--一旦人们散去或消失,大自然就会收回它的领土。你只需要看看危地马拉的蒂卡尔或柬埔寨的吴哥,如果你告诉他们,他们的城市今天将充满鬼魂和游客,一千年前的几十万居民会不相信地听着。那时,它们是处于复杂的交流网络中心的巨大都市,充满了文化、政治和军事野心。


这些城市和国家逐渐衰落,人口分散,部分原因是气候的变化:降雨模式的变化,包括持续几十年的干旱,并没有导致文明的崩溃,但它们确实增加了现有的压力,使生活更加困难,加剧了竞争,激励了暴力,降低了农业产量。这一次,情况有所不同。目前气候变化的速度如此之快,以至于科学家们越来越多地谈论 "第六次大灭绝":生物多样性的急剧下降,与人类对景观的开发和人为的全球变暖有关,已经看到各种植物和动物的 "级联侵蚀"。其规模和速度都令人震惊。当其他动物和植物失败时,一些动物和植物表现良好;人类可能属于前一类,这似乎令人怀疑。

首先,根据一些研究,气候压力已经被 "烘烤 "了,这意味着即使所有的排放被立即停止,也会发生明显的变暖。这意味着,即使2015年通过的《巴黎协定》目标得以实现,我们的海平面也将上升11英寸,甚至多达30英寸,而且热带地区大部分地区的危险热度将增加50-100%。一些人对未来非常悲观:一项新的研究认为,将全球平均温度变化限制在巴黎目标的可能性为0.1%。那么,人口将被推向北方和南方,远离热带地区似乎是不可避免的。长期建模表明,到2500年,亚马逊可能会成为一片不毛之地,因为温度继续上升,海平面上升几十米,覆盖我们所知的世界的大部分地区。


气候变暖在全世界的分布并不均匀,负担将最严重地落在热带地区的低收入国家的穷人身上。对正在向我们走来的预测令人不寒而栗,今年的情况充分显示了其中的危险。英国的气温上升到40°C以上;中国记录了地球上最严重的热浪;洪水袭击了巴基斯坦,降雨量比正常情况下多出近800%,影响了数千万人,使该国三分之一的地区被水淹没;南半球的冬季温度在南美洲上升到45°C以上,而南极洲一些地区的温度比平均温度高出近40°C;山洪袭击了美国的死亡谷,那里一年平均降雨量的四分之三在短短三小时内下降。我们是否以及如何适应将是21世纪的问题,其答案将决定下一个千年的发展。

我们有理由对我们能够做到这一点感到乐观。首先,一些新技术可能会阻止我们对自然环境的破坏。另一方面,出生率的急剧下降,特别是在高收入和中等收入国家,意味着未来我们的人数将减少。这将缓解对有限资源的压力,以及对那些可再生资源的压力--只要消费模式不继续上升。这是非常重要的,因为今天自然资源的消耗速度意味着它们不会被取代。正如最近的一份报告所说,人类目前需要1.6个地球来维持今天的生活水平。如果在未来的几个世纪里,世界各地的人口急剧下降,并且我们在使用什么和如何使用方面都变得更有效率,这种情况可能会改变。

即使避免了气候变化的Scylla,自然和其他人为灾难的Charybdis也可能将我们中的大多数人扫地出门。很少有人需要提醒我们,军事对抗的前景依然存在。即使在未来几年能够为乌克兰、台湾和其他潜在的爆发点找到解决方案,在未来几个世纪的全球冲突中反对使用核武器也是勇敢的。相反,问题是它将产生多大的影响--以及它是否可能影响我们物种的生存。新的气候模型显示,即使是有限地使用核武器,也会在大气中注入如此多的烟尘,以至于许多地区多年来都不适合农业生产--这还没有考虑到升级的因素,这将产生一个全面的核冬天,并挑战地球上人类生活的极限。

也要考虑到疾病环境变化的前景,这可能会使第19号病毒大流行看起来像小菜一碟。一项估计表明,到本世纪末,不断变化的气候将使世界上90%的人口处于疟疾和登革热的风险中。虽然全球北方的卫生系统往往更好,但最近的冠状病毒大流行表明,治疗需求的突然激增会对初级卫生保健设施、医务人员和设备产生巨大的影响。大约60%的传染病因气候危害而加剧,如洪水、干旱或海洋环境的变化。人类还必须应对抗生素耐药性的上升,这将导致到2100年有数千万人死亡,之后可能会有更多人死亡--除非找到新的药物或技术。


我们的后代如果能够度过这些气候和生物里程碑,将发现自己生活在一个完全不同的世界里--在这个世界里,人工智能、机器学习、飞行汽车、火星基地、基因强化婴儿和其他科幻小说中的一厢情愿的产物都不如生存的基本问题有趣和重要。我们有多少人--如果有的话--能够看到这一点是个好问题。不过,按照我们的速度,世界可能会像今天的提卡尔和吴哥一样安静--没有游客。
_______________

彼得-弗兰克潘是牛津大学的全球历史教授。他是即将出版的《气候》一书的作者。失落的历史》(Bloomsbury,2023)。
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