In response to:
Consider how developed countries have struggled to cope with a few million Syrian refugees (most of which we never hear about because they're being assimilated into neighbouring countries like Jordan)...it's been a political gong show right? So what will happen when we're dealing with 10s of millions of climate refugees, many of whom will have nowhere to go because the surrounding areas will also be struggling to survive. Are we going to let them all die? And that is only the tip of the iceberg...
It is likely to be a very dark century for humanity as we try to work through the direct and indirect problems that climate change will present, and I am terrified of what's to come. Most of us alive today rely on a complex but fragile house of cards to deliver to us clean water, fresh food, and other life supporting goods. The ability of the earth to support a multi-billion person population depends on functioning civilization(s), but all of that will be at threat of collapse should our interconnected global socio-economic system face a major crisis that rocks the table too hard...and that's what is coming down the pipe.
It is not extreme to imagine massive die-offs and other tragedies in our lifetimes if the full effects of climate change come to pass. Those who love freedom can expect authoritarian regimes to become the norm as security becomes the most important political issue (we're reactive creatures). Wide scale famine and water shortages will hit the poorest and wipe them out. More and more of the world's population will live in slums and succumb to diseases due to obscene living conditions. The list of horrors goes on...And it's easy to think about the impact this will have on the poorest, and to feel protected from that, but these problems will impact wealthy countries as well. Growing scarcity worldwide will send ripples through all of our economic relationships, and the ensuing panic will create a culture that more readily embraces hatred and violence (you can already see the beginnings of it if you're paying attention). We'll see conflict on a scale rarely seen before, and few will be untouched by it.
The only way we can realistically cope with the coming disasters is through innovation, and luckily that's something we humans do best. However, innovation will only get us so far unless we can learn to face these challenges head on as a collaborative collective. Unless something drastic changes to change the existing political/collective will, we're all going to see loved ones suffer and perish in the coming die off, and that is going to be a very dark time. And what's sad is that most won't see it coming, because many fail to apply a systems perspective to understand the scale of the problems we face (this is so much bigger than climate change alone). We focus our attention on the mundane, on the most unimportant things like what sport team is going to win, which celebrity is acting like the biggest fool, or how our lifestyles compare to those of our peers using social media. We pursue endless entertainment and distraction to numb the awareness of an unjust world that we feel powerless to change. I know that it's easy to feel powerless in the face of huge problems, I feel that way all the time, but a culture of aloofness will only worsen the situation.
I'm thankful for those who do actively work towards change; it's a difficult path to pursue, and we need as many wayfinders as possible. However, true leaders must learn how to have constructive debates with those who hold different opinions if anything is to change. It's become far too easy to isolate ourselves into echo chambers and pat each other on the back for complimentary perspectives. And too common to see aggressive rhetoric build on a culture of Us vs Them to overcome sensible conversation. Is it worthwhile to keep fighting each other using identity politics until there is nothing left to fight for, or are we going to band together and do something? What is it going to take to do so?
An angry beast is running down the road at us, but we refuse to take our heads out of the sand. We all contribute to the problems, no doubt about it, but we can also contribute to their solutions by picking our heads up, looking the beast in the eye, and embracing the responsibility of guiding our ultimate fate. This isn't the end of humanity, but it could be the end of global civilization as we know it. Some will undoubtedly survive, but right now I care about the millions, if not billions, who will not. What is it going to take for more people to put aside their egos, step up to the plate, and take a swing at this?