An Overview Of The Collapse 2
In 2011, climate scientists were broadly agreed that the world had blown right through the emissions levels needed for serious climate change. A position paper by the influential CNAS think-tank proved glumly prophetic for the next forty years.
By 2050, mean sea levels worldwide have risen by over half a meter and every year it gets worse. Scientists agree that the North and South ice sheets have become wildly unstable and expect sea rises of up to six meters over the next century and a half. Bangladesh is mostly gone. The Low Countries of Europe and the Norfolk region of the UK are partly inundated, and fighting a rearguard action to save what is left. In the U.S., New Orleans and Houston were turned into permanent Venices by hurricane tide surges and Galveston, Texas has been evacuated – abandoned to the Gulf‘s advance. It’s by no means alone – across the globe, smaller towns and villages are likewise flooded and abandoned. In the temperate regions precipitation falls far more frequently and heavily, up 20% since 2010: storms that were “once in a hundred year“ occurrences are now expected to happen twice or more a decade. Worldwide weather patterns have become more energetic: hurricanes, typhoons and tornadoes are both more common and more powerful.
The Arctic is ice free for half the year and the Northwest Channel can be kept open by nuclear-powered icebreakers even in Winter – much to Canada and other Northern nation’s benefits. With the U.S. too weakened to enforce freedom of the seas, these nations charge shipping a toll to pass through their territorial waters, routes which cleanly bypass the Suez and Panama canals for First World imports and have made those engineering marvels obsolescent. Both the Arctic and Antarctic circles are being exploited for their great mineral wealth, previously inaccessible, and several nations are greedily eyeing the Antarctic mainland, where grass now survives even through the Winter months.
Some areas have too little water, however. In the dry tropics and sub-tropics, severe water scarcity affects 2 billion people worldwide. The Middle East in particular has seen water wars help fuel its meltdown into two decades of war, while the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by over a third, leaving flatlands ideal for corporate farming methods. The Indian Ganges river is dry, the Nile and the Euphrates nowadays fail to reach the sea – all the water is sucked up before they ever reach their now-salty deltas. Australia is an arid nightmare, with a fringe of civilization clinging to a narrow coastal band.
In the U.S., the dustbowl is back with a vengeance – much of the American Southwest and is uninhabitable without expensive piped-in water. Ghost towns proliferate by their hundreds, making the entire center third of the U.S.A. an arid wasteland punctuated by wandering bands of nomad migrants and cities hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Wildfires devestate millions of acres every year. In the Midwest, massive corporate agrifarms are sucking up water for irrigation, and the Ogallala Aquifer, on which the entire region depends for water, is nearing total depletion. Worldwide, over 60% of the world’s previously most productive farmland is nonviable.
Ocean currents have changed too. The Gulf Stream died in 2027, other currents have shifted or died too. Monsoon patterns are increasingly erratic and fish populations, already suffering from heavy over-exploitation, have nose-dived. Jellyfish, being luckily well adapted to the more acidic and warmer world’s oceans, proliferate like bacteria in a petri dish. All the coral reefs have died, part of a massive and world-wide species die-off which has seen 60% of the world’s bio-diversity sink into extinction in the past 40 years.
Pandemic disease, famine and war have stalked the world for over two decades, bringing with them the fourth Horseman, Death. Over a billion and a half are estimated to have died, bringing the world’s population back to around 8 billion, just as it was in the third decade of the century. Another billion, at least, are homeless refugees and wanderers. The Middle East, Asia and Africa have seen the bulk of those fatalities, but by no means all. In the U.S., where FEMA and ICE largely died with the Christmas Crash, the various causes of the collapse are estimated to have killed 50 million and another 60 million are “displaced persons”. Like every other nation, the U.S. response has been to tighten its grip on what it can still control – leading to Emergency Powers declarations, martial law, more control handed to the Megacorps and more resentment.