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Grim Outlook for 2023
January 1, 2023
by William P. Meyers

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2022 showed we are in a climate emergency

2022 was a horrible year, except perhaps for a few members of the human elite. The United States was in a historic drought for the entire year, was hit hard by hurricanes and other storms, and had high inflation. Some other areas of the world did worse: east Africa also had a historic drought, leading to famine. Many areas, including India, Pakistan, and Europe had severe heat waves. India, Pakistan and Afghanistan had both drought and flooding, with Afghanistan suffering from famine. Add in the war in the Ukraine, and all I can say to humans and their leaders is: "That's another fine mess you've gotten me into."

2023 could be better, and it could be worse, and will vary on exactly where on earth one is situated, and on one's own actions and socioeconomic status. But the trends are to worse, and the trends to worse are accelerating. The chances are very high, almost certain, that the earth as a whole will be warmer in 2023 than in 2022. It is almost certain that greenhouse gas emissions will be higher in 2023 than in 2022, guaranteeing that the outlook will remain grim for at least a couple of decades.

One indicator that it could be really, really bad for most of us (and for most species) in 2023 is Antarctic Ice Extent (click on Antarctic when you get to the page. Then click on the years to the right to turn them on or off. Notably 2022). It is entering 2023 at the lowest extent ever. It is starting at about 1.7 million square kilometers lower than the lowest ever prior December 31. If it remains that level below the historic low curve, by the arctic summer of 2023, in late February, it may approach being ice free. Yes, fellow humans, we may have produced so much pollution that we have managed to melt all the ice in the Antarctic Ocean! On the other hand, the curve could veer back towards normal. In either case, the low ice on the ocean means the summer sun will warm the surface waters more than usual, likely accelerating the melting of glaciers at the ocean's edge. Likely accelerating the rise in sea level. Goodbye, Miami! Sorry to see you go, Jacksonville! Okay, maybe not quite that fast. But it shows you how warm the world is getting, and how that heating can accelerate, building from positive feedback loops.

Which means more drought in the U.S., and around the world, is more likely than not. Exactly where is hard to predict. Also, expect more heat domes, and bigger. Keep in mind that a heat dome of sufficient extent in the U.S., and at a crucial time of year for crops, could result in famine in the U.S. for the first time since the Civil War. We might be able to buy food on international markets, we might not. It is hard to quantify the risk, but I would put it at 20% per year. To be clear, a crop failure in 2023 would mean a famine in 2024. Even without a heat dome, lack of water and crop destruction from pests enabled by higher temperatures could cut food production and lead to higher food prices.

I don't usually like to use the Bible for guidance, but the situation calls to mind when Joseph predicted that Egypt would have 7 good years of food production, followed by 7 bad years. So the Pharaoh ordered that food would be stored during the good years to get the people through the bad years. We have almost no food reserves anymore in the U.S. We used to keep some during the late 50s and into the 60s, from worries about nuclear war, but those policies died long ago.

We really should rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We should stop letting people fly for pleasure. We should add a large new tax on gasoline. We should make it impossible to set an air-conditioning thermostat too low. But we won't. We have chicken-shit politicians and, frankly, a culture of self-serving, narcissistic pleasure seeking that won't start partying until someone stops pumping oil. So my prediction is the Slow Motion Apocalypse will continue, not always at the same speed, but inevitably towards the annihilation of at least 90% of the current human population.

If you want hope, move to a different multiverse. [Sarcasm. The multiverse theory of physics is a sham. You are stuck here.]

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