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Visualization Shows the Earth at Plus Four Degrees


While major industries track an accelerating shift [1] toward decarbonization, and climate researchers warn about a narrowing carbon budget [2], Big Think is out with a visualization of the world at 4.0°C average global warming.

 “Micronesia is gone—sunk beneath the waves,” the site observes, republishing a map first produced nearly a decade ago by New Scientist.  “Pakistan and South India have been abandoned. And Europe is slowly turning into a desert. This is the world, 4°C warmer than it is now.”

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As the visualization shows, most of Africa, Latin America, China, the United States, and Mediterranean Europe become uninhabitable desert in the New Scientist scenario. Today,  those regions collectively house some five billion people.

Cheerfully, if somewhat delusionally, Big Think notes that “there is also good news: Western Antarctica is no longer icy and uninhabitable.”

As did the map’s original cartographers, the website dreams of high-rise “smart cities in newly green and pleasant lands [in] northern Canada, Scandinavia, and Siberia.” It imagines that melted permafrost, “reliable precipitation, and warmer temperatures [will] provide ideal growing conditions for most of the world’s subsistence crops, bountiful harvests to feed the hundreds of millions of climate refugees who call those regions home.”

(The visualization offers no insight into how more than 70% of humanity might integrate involuntarily yet peacefully into regions now occupied by the remaining 29%.)