In as little as three decades, much of the Middle East and North Africa will be too hot for humans to survive, forcing people to flee in droves, according to stark climate predictions released last month.
This article has been weighing on my mind today.
August in Toronto is hot and humid. We’re currently in the middle of another heat advisory. When this happens, the city offers free air-conditioned places for people to cool off during the day. Our public pools are often kept open later in the evening as well.
Even with these precautions, about a hundred and twenty people die in Toronto every year from illnesses related to the heat. Most of them are homeless, elderly, or have underlying health problems. Millions more of us cope with the heat without any major issues, so it’s easy to sweep it under the rug and forget how dangerous hot weather can be.
There is a hard limit to how much the human body can take, though. We’re beginning to see what that limit is in the Middle East and North Africa.
The humanitarian and environmentalist in me is cringing at the thought of all of the suffering to come. First, people and animals are going to die terrible deaths through no fault of their own. Then entire cities that are going to be abandoned because of their harsh climates. The ecosystems in those areas will permanently change as well. I don’t expect every species to die out, but I think we’ll lose enough of them to disrupt the local food chains.
I wonder how far this uninhabitable zones will spread. While I don’t think climate change will cause humans to go extinct, I do think it will make life much more difficult for the generations to come. They’re going to live on a planet that is hotter, has more unpredictable weather, and has fewer species than it’s had in a very long time.
As a writer, I wonder what it would be like to be the last person to leave one of those communities. How long will it take before humans – or maybe another sentient species altogether – rediscovers them and pieces together the story of how they were created and why they had to be abandoned?
I don’t have any answers. None of this might occur after all. Maybe a team of scientists will invent something that scrubs all of the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reverses the effects of climate change. (Wouldn’t that be cool if it were possible!)
But it is something I think about a lot as I drink extra water and try to stay out of the sun.