Those who accept that anthropogenic global warming is occurring have a logical plan: CO2 reduction. Those who deny the anthropogenic cause but accept that climate change is happening (how can anyone now deny that?) have no plan beyond: “go with the flow” (tell that to the Somerset Levels); business as usual; adapt.
OK. What would adapting mean? Many parts of the world that are presently pleasant to live in and can sustain large populations will find that their food production and water supply will become totally inadequate. Meanwhile, deeply inhospitable parts of the world will open up. Northern Siberia and Canada will no longer be mostly permafrost and elks. The Arctic trade route will create vast growth in Siberia, and agriculture, industry and cities will follow.
So Mr Putin will surely welcome us to Siberia: the 21st century’ California. But a vast exodus of billions of people from now ruined countries to these new, promised lands is hardly likely to be carried through peacefully, even if the prospect of Siberian ranching appeals.
Further down the track, we’ll lose most of the world’s major cities to the sea. New York will be one of the first, which ought to concentrate minds – but then minds should have been concentrated long ago by what has already happened.
Just as the Cornish Riviera doesn’t look so swish when it’s been battered by the sea and the railway track left hanging in the air, the Mediterranean won’t be as charming when it starts to mimic the African desert across the water.
And “Business as Usual and Adjust to Climate Change” doesn’t end there. With no amelioration, warming would become a runaway positive-feedback process. We know that the world has at remote times in the past been very much hotter than now: the Cretaceous, for instance, when for part of the period there may have been no ice at the poles. But there were no people around then and people could not survive en masse in such Cretaceous heat-bath conditions. Clever as we are, a rump would probably survive in the hot equivalent of Antarctic research stations, a handful of scientists living under great great domes with climate control to allow food to be grown.
The only rational course is carbon dioxide mitigation which would preserve a world recognisably like our own.