Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

The Coming Heat Age

In the last 100,000 years or so, our planet has endured an Ice Age and a few mini-ice ages. But now, with the earth on track to be four degrees Celsius warmer by 2100, a “Heat Age” is looming over us all.

BEIJING – In the last 100,000 years or so, our planet has endured an Ice Age and a few mini-ice ages. But now, with the earth on track to be four degrees Celsius warmer by 2100, a “Heat Age” is looming over us all.

This is not fear-mongering. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), by 2100 we can expect a mean increase in surface temperature of 3.7ºC, with a likely range of 2.6-4.8 degrees. A warmer world will lead to mass migration from stricken areas and exacerbate existing wealth gaps between countries. In the words of David Victor, of the University of California, San Diego, the coming Heat Age will be “nasty, brutish, and hot.”

Greenhouse-gas emissions are expected to reach a record high of 36 billion tons this year.That figure is expected to grow dramatically, as the great emerging-market boom of recent decades, which has lifted billions out of poverty and raised living standards around the world, puts increasing strain on the world’s environment and resources. Indeed, by 2030, three billion new middle-class consumers – most of them in Asia – will add to the ever-growing burden of emissions.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/3FLuKME;
  1. elerian122_Peter MacdiarmidGetty Images for Somerset House_bigdatascreentechman Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House

    Adapting to a Fast-Forward World

    Mohamed A. El-Erian

    The world is going through a period of accelerating change, as four secular developments illustrate. Firms and governments must make timely adjustments, not only to their business models and operational approaches, but also to both their tactical and strategic mindsets.

    2
  2. roubini137_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_xi putin Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    The White Swans of 2020

    Nouriel Roubini

    Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.

    8
  3. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.