2024 – Over 120,000 People Left to Die
Extreme heatwaves have resulted in some 120,000 deaths. France has been most affected, where some 40,000 people have lost their lives. Doctors blame the deaths on a combination of extreme temperatures and a lack of ventilation in European buildings. They explain that the human body is usually capable of dealing with extreme heat as long as it has sufficient time to recover. However, with many buildings unable to cool down sufficiently overnight, body temperatures have continued to rise. This has led to the body temperatures of many Europeans rising to more than 41.5°C, at which point widespread damage occurs to vital organs, including the brain, unless immediate medical attention is obtained. Worryingly, the Global Health Organisation warns that body temperatures exceeding 41.5°C are going to become commonplace over the course of the next two decades. Furthermore, the organisation states that we should expect the number of lives lost to increase from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands by the end of the century if human-made emissions of greenhouse gases continue to increase.
A Makeshift Paris Hospital Treats an Influx of Heatstroke Victims
2025 – Carbon Emissions Rise by 40%
In a statement today, the UN announced that human-made greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 41% since the turn of the century. This means that humans are responsible for pumping the equivalent of 52.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. This has resulted in the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent in the atmosphere rising to a record high of 455 ppm.
Scientists Discuss the Impacts of Rising Global Temperatures
2026 – Half the World’s Coral Declared Dead
Scientists have released a report revealing that more than 50% of the world's coral has now died. They go on to explain the consequences of this, as, despite occupying only a tiny fraction of the ocean's surface, coral reefs are home to around a quarter of all marine species. Scientists explain that the coral losses are the result of sea temperatures rising above 30°C, at which point the water becomes too hot for the coral to survive. The report adds, even if we stop all emissions now, further rises in sea temperatures are now unavoidable leading to the loss of nearly all the ocean's coral by as early as 2045.
The Dead Coral Found in the Great Barrier Reef Was Once Home to More Than 1,500 Species of Fish
2027 – Dust Storms Ravage the States
The USA is in a state of emergency as vast swathes of the country are left devastated by the biggest drought in nearly 1,000 years. Monstrous dust storms span from Florida to Dakota, with water shortages now gripping 80% of the nation. Over seven states have been struck so far, with fifteen more expected by 2050. Government scientists report that the last comparable event occurred in the middle ages when freak heatwaves left nearly half of America beneath the sands. Sadly, if temperatures continue to rise, it is only a matter of time before many states become completely uninhabitable. Emergency food imports have been organised as crop production has been decimated. In total, some 5.5 million people have been forced to relocate with more than 33 million expected to relocate by the middle of the century. Additionally, agricultural losses alone are expected to top $2 trillion by 2050, bringing even more damage to the now fragile American economy.
A Monstrous Dust Storm Roars Through Austin, Texas
2028 – The End of the North Pole
One of the Last Sightings of a Polar Bear in the Wild
Climate change is now undeniably confirmed as the North Pole has become ice-free for the first time in more than 100,000 years. Only thirty years ago, as much as seven million square kilometres of the North Pole was covered in ice. Now, all that can be seen are thousands of kilometres of open ocean. Scientists explain that the rapid melting of the ice was inevitable once pockets of the ocean became exposed to the sun's light. This is because ice absorbs around 40% of the sunlight that strikes its surface, whereas seawater absorbs some 94%. As a result, the temperatures in the Arctic have risen roughly twice the average rate. This has led to unprecedented rates of arctic melting with as much as 400,000 square kilometres disappearing in a single season. Unfortunately, such rapid melting has proved to be too much for polar bears which are now doomed to extinction. The loss of sea ice has also provided access to even more fossil fuels, which if used, will further increase the rate at which the planet warms. Scientists gloomily state that the melting of the ice cap marks the beginning of a new era for humankind – the era of climate change.
2029 – The Deserts Are Growing
The planet is drying up as the world's deserts continue to expand. Scientists estimate that an additional six million square kilometres have emerged within the past decade alone. That is an area roughly twice the size of India. This is just the beginning though, with the world's desert area predicted to cover some 40 million square kilometres by the end of the century. That is an increase of 15 million square kilometres. Worst hit is Africa where some 500 million people are already suffering from chronic malnutrition.
The Once Fertile Lands of Tunisia
Climate Change in the 2030s
The damage caused by climate change does not stop with our expanding deserts. Find out what disasters our greenhouse gas emissions will likely cause in the next decade by selecting the link below. Alternatively, find out how we can stop climate change by returning to the main menu.
Title image created by SUPER RADICAL LTD. Amazon underlay taken by top10top and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock. Fire overlay taken by norinori303 and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock. Burnt land overlay taken by Vladimir Melnikov and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock.
Image of Paris hospital created by SUPER RADICAL LTD. Image base sourced from ‘Prison Crowded’ taken by the California Public Records Act and released into the public domain. Special thanks to Alejandro Zorita for his assistance creating the image.
Image of scientists discussing impacts of rising global temperatures taken by Antonio Zugaldia, released on Flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0. Minor modifications undertaken by SUPER RADICAL LTD.
Image of dead coral taken by Rich Carey and reproduced under license from Shutterstock. Minor modifications undertaken by SUPER RADICAL LTD.
Image of dust storm created by SUPER RADICAL LTD. Dust storm underlay sourced from ‘Dust Storm’ taken by Sydney Oats, released on Flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0. City overlay sourced from ‘UT Tower’ taken by Earl McGehee, released on Flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons license CC BY 2.0.
Image of polar bear created by SUPER RADICAL LTD. Icebergs and polar bear overlay sourced from ‘Polar Bear on Ice’ taken by Anette Holmberg and reproduced under license from Shutterstock. Sea underlay sourced from ‘Surface of the Calm, Summer Sea’ taken by Aleksandr Simonov and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock.
Image of desert taken by Tomasz Zajda and reproduced under license from Adobe Stock. Minor modifications undertaken by SUPER RADICAL LTD.
Barrels of oil equivalent is based on 1628.2 kWh of energy being contained within each barrel. Data sourced from Unit Juggler – 'Converter: Barrel of Oil Equivalent to Kilowatt-Hour' – unitjuggler.com.
The volume of one tonne of carbon dioxide is equivalent to 556.2 cubic metres. Sourced from International Carbon Bank and Exchange – 'CO2 Volume Calculation' – www.icbe.com.
For further information about any of the sources listed, please visit the ZERO EMISSION WORLD Works Cited page.