For some time my baseline scenario has been as follows: we are so screwed.
We can expect a complete collapse of the Ocean’s ability to provide fish. Japan, the worst offender in this, will also be the worst hit. That doesn’t make me happy, but it does make me laugh. This effects the oxygen cycle and worst case we could kill ourselves off entirely. Assuming we don’t, however…
We are currently seeing a hiatus in Climate Change. My friend Stirling predicted that years ago, and predicted it would be used to simply double down on stupidity like fracking. It is being. If/when the sun warms up, we are fried. Various processes are past the point of no return, we are going to see huge methane releases from Russia, for example. We are going to have worse global warming than the worst mainstream predictions.
Climate change will continue to show up as more and worse extreme weather events, like the nasty hurricanes we’ve been seeing hitting further and further north. We are going to also see changes in rainfall patterns, these will continue to devastate agriculture.
Aquifers are being drained dry, in ways that permanently damage them. This is happening in China, the US, India and other places. This water will not come back. Large areas that are currently agriculturally productive will not be, independent of climate change.
We will see huge dust bowls form, including in India, China and the US.
There will be widespread hunger, because agriculture is going to fail. Period. Right now hunger is due to distribution issues: we grow more than enough food to feed everyone, we just don’t care about feeding everyone. In twenty to thirty years this will not be the case: we will just not have enough food.
Water will be as precious as hydrocarbons, which is, in part, because creating hydrocarbons requires water. Expect much of the world not just to be hungry but thirsty.
All of this is baked into the cake: we are past the decision points on all of these items—they will happen, they can no longer be stopped. Even if you take the most optimistic scenarios we would need to act radically, right now, and we aren’t going to.