Azara Blog: The UK should allegedly be worrying about life in 2250

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Date published: 2009/02/13

The BBC says:

A new report says treaties aimed at reducing CO2 emissions are useless.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers report says we have to accept the world could change dramatically.

It also says we should start planning our major infrastructure now to accommodate more extreme weather events and sea level rises.

While not against attempts to reduce emissions, the report's authors say we should be realistic about what can be achieved with this approach.
Sea level rises could be seven metres in the UK by 2250, which, unchecked, could inundate much of London, East Anglia and other coastal areas.

We may have to accept, they say, that we will need to abandon some parts of the country, and spend significant amounts of money defending others.

2250 may seem like an unimaginably long time away, but the report's authors point out that parts of the London Underground system that are still in use were built in the 1860s, and today's engineers are facing projects the lifetime of which will extend into 2100.

The majority of existing infrastructure, they say, will continue to be operational for at least another 100-200 years.

Well, the authors are probably correct that "treaties aimed at reducing CO2 emissions are useless".

On the other hand, it is ridiculous to even consider what will happen in 2250 even if much of the existing infrastructure does "continue to be operational for at least another 100-200 years". So no matter what some people say, we haven't a clue what life will be like in 2250, just like the people in 1770 did not have a clue what life would be like today. Scientists can make all the predictions they like, but they are based on a naive extrapolation of where the planet is today. It's quite possible, for example, that the world population will crash in the next N decades because of some nasty virus. Worrying about what is happening over the next four or five decades is fine when planning infrastructure (although even these predictions are bound to be seriously wrong). Worrying about it much beyond that is just a parlour game for the academic middle class. The UK should certainly not be diverting billions and trillions of pounds of investment based on what this report claims will happen in 2250.

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