How bad can it get? Is it hyperbole to call climate change the most important issue humanity has ever faced? Do other issues even compare when climate change itself encompasses almost all of them? How important are the issues of war and mass violence and human rights? The geopolitical consequences of climate change are almost unimaginable. There will be droughts and losses of vegetation, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has warned of potentially catastrophic impacts on food production. Imagine 200 million people displaced, worldwide. Where will they go? How will they survive? How will the less endangered people and governments cope with such an unprecedented torrent of refugees? Think of the reactionary xenophobia already resulting from immigration in the United States. Consider that the wonder of Europe’s open internal travel is about to end, as nations there prepare to close their borders, as their own reactionary response to the increasing numbers of refugees fleeing the violence in revolutionary North Africa and the Middle East.
Does health care matter? How will nations cope as climate change expands the territories of everything from dangerous diseases to deadly insects? One need only consider the effects of record tornados and increasingly severe hurricanes to begin to realize the human costs of climate disasters. And then there are the impacts on forests and ocean acidification, the latter threatening the base of the marine food chain, and all whose livlihoods or lives depend upon it. Back on land, the disruptions to agriculture could undermine the food supplies for billions.