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Opinion: The Wars and Disasters of 2050 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Two men on a motorcycle drive through a flooded street in SalÈ near the Moroccan capital Rabat, April 2, 2014. AFP PHOTO / FADEL SENNA

The year 2050 may seem very far away, but it will come sooner than we expect. Tomorrow will be on us sooner than we might think—and what a tomorrow it will be.

It must be fate that the week of the release of new Hollywood blockbuster Noah coincided with an announcement of the dangers that await us over the next three decades as a result of climate change.

The story of the flood and the Prophet Noah is just one of many stories depicting God’s wrath towards man’s defiance of His divine message.

New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe plays the title role in this epic film directed by Darren Aronofsky, which tells this antediluvian tale of different tribes wreaking havoc on earth, unaware of the peril of mankind meddling in natural laws. These are laws of nature that any rational mind can innately recognize and understand regarding what is good and constructive and what is bad and destructive.

Humankind has made significant scientific progress, granting us a level of excellence that exceeds all expectations. We have achieved this progress on earth and in space. Despite all this, here is some science for you: A recent report, “Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaption and Vulnerability,” by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has been published and details the impact that climate change will have on the planet over the course of the coming decades. This climate change is the result of the state of ignorance regarding the effects of the excessive use of the trappings of modern life—and that includes technology.

One of the alarming things in this report is the finding that by 2050, a billion people around the world will be suffering from a shortage of drinking water, up from 50 million today. It predicts the resultant eruption of water wars, not only between countries, but even the possibility of civil wars between cities or regions within the same country. Even more, due to an expected 25 percent decline in vital crops such as maize, wheat and rice, the report warns against the creeping danger of childhood malnutrition, estimating that an additional 25 million children under the age of five will suffer. There are also fatal diseases that have largely been eradicated by science, such as cholera and malaria, which could resurge and spread to poor countries.

The increase in the gap between the rich and the poor—whether between states or individuals within the same society—is also expected to expand as a result. The expected outcome of all this, not mentioned in the report but which we can imagine all too easily, is an increase in social tensions, leading to disasters and violent clashes even in wealthy states.

So, is it a surprise for scientists of the caliber of those on the IPCC—whose report was based on more than 12,000 peer-reviewed studies—to raise their voices and warn the public that climate change threatens our health and homes, as well as food and water security?

Clearly not, and in a press conference earlier this week, IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri warned that nobody is safe from the impending threat of global warming.

Of course, industrial countries carry the greatest responsibility for the global warming resulting from carbon dioxide emissions. China heads the list of countries by carbon dioxide emissions, followed by the US and India. Therefore, it is these states that should take the initiative to take active steps to confront this dangerous phenomenon that is threatening the entire globe. Even then, whatever action they take in this regard will be much less than what is required.

The warning cry about the expected wars and disasters of 2050 comes at a time when civil wars are taking hold today in a number of regions, particularly in the heart of the ancient world, that cradle of civilizations and monotheistic religions, in whose name much blood has been spilled against all logic.

Where will all these conflicting forces be in 36 years’ time, after they have achieved their objectives at the expense of the future of the innocent?

Will they have disappeared without a trace, after their hegemony only lasted a short while, or will they be succeeded by other, similar powers that seek to control the fate of their people? Will these people be hungry, thirsty and destitute, and if so will it be a result of the acts of those who “rule” them, or the famines and floods that will arise from global warming? Ultimately, these floods could be even worse than the flood of Noah.