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Editor

Ken Tingley is Editor of The Post-Star in Glens Falls, N.Y. and writes a regular blog called "The Front Page."

My son Joseph will be 54 years old in 2050.

By then, I hope he will have had a long and fruitful career, raised a family, seen all the world has to offer and begun to contemplate his final act in retirement.

The reality is that he may be thinking about fleeing the country to protect his family from a world spinning out of control.

Sadly, I really believe that.

It’s a cataclysmic apocalypse that our children may be living long after we are gone.

Maybe, we should apologize now.

My information comes from an independent think tank in Australia called “Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration” that outlines a scenario of mass migration, disease and starvation, where millions will be heading to Canada and Siberia out of necessity because of climate change, and that’s not the worst of it.

The Australians imagine a world where, over the next 10 years, policy leaders “politely ignore” the actions needed to address a global climate-emergency by failing to cut greenhouse gas emissions, so by 2030 the world reaches the 3 degrees Celsius tipping point generally considered to be the level at which it is too late.

That is an accurate portrayal of the politics we are seeing in the United States and the measurements the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change forecast just a year ago.

The Australians believe that, beyond 2030, North America will suffer from devastating weather extremes, including wild fires and flooding. This past year was just a taste of what is to come.

Here are the scenarios that Columbia University’s Alan Sobel, a professor of applied physics and mathematics, says “don’t seem that far-fetched to me:”

  • By 2050, the coral reefs and the Amazon rain forest will have collapsed, affecting fishing yields and rainfalls.
  • Deadly heat conditions in West Africa, tropical South America, the Middle East and Southeast Asia will result in a billion people being displaced. That makes the Syrian refugee crisis a minor disruption.
  • Lack of water will be a daily problem for 2 billion people.
  • Food production will fall by one-fifth because of droughts, heat waves, flooding and storms.
  • Some of the largest cities in the world — Mumbai, Jakarta, Canton, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Lagos, Bangkok, Manila — will be uninhabitable, and billions will need to be relocated.
  • Fights over land, resources and water will lead to wars and occupations, maybe even nuclear conflict.

Where we once considered fighting wars for oil, water and farm land will be far more valuable in the future. Essentially, people will be forced to migrate or die.

The Australians say their conclusions offer “a glimpse of outright chaos on a path to the end of the human civilization and modern society as we have known it, in which challenges of global security are simply overwhelming and political panic becomes the norm.”

Does that give anyone pause?

And here is the worst part: We may not even see it coming.

This past week, James Reilly, the director of the United States Geological Survey, ordered that computer-generated climate models that project the impact of climate change go no further than 2040, instead of the current standard through the end of the century.

It’s the equivalent of taking down the railroad crossings gates because the chances are so slim a train will actually be coming when we cross the track.

In another bit of news, it was revealed that many of the world’s largest companies say they are bracing for the prospect that climate change issues could affect their bottom line over the next five years.

One golf course on the west coast of Ireland has asked the national planning authority for permission to build a sea wall to stop the Atlantic Ocean from eroding the course, saying that it could impact its future operation. It cited sea level rise and more powerful storms because of climate change as the reason.

That golf course is owned by the Trump Organization.

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Tingley is the editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at tingley@poststar.com. His blog “The Front Page” discusses issues about newspapers and journalism. You can also follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kentingley

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