Danger zone: A mere 2 deg C away from global warming

Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are (from left) coffee-farming, fishing and wine-growing. The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C
Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are (above) coffee-farming, fishing and wine-growing. The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels - a threshold that scientists have warned we should not cross - by as early as 2030.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO
Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are (from left) coffee-farming, fishing and wine-growing. The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C
Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are coffee-farming, fishing (above) and wine-growing. The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels - a threshold that scientists have warned we should not cross - by as early as 2030.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO
Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are (from left) coffee-farming, fishing and wine-growing. The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C
Some of the occupations that are likely to be hit by climate change - for better or worse - are coffee-farming, fishing and wine-growing (above). The reality of global warming is starting to hit home hard, as the world could get warmer by 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels - a threshold that scientists have warned we should not cross - by as early as 2030.PHOTOS: REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO

PARIS • As the reality of global warming hits home, people may ask: "How will it affect my livelihood?"

Well, that depends - on your profession, your age, and exactly where you live, among other things.

Here are a few scenarios for a climate-altered future, when rising temperatures are closing in on the threshold of 2 deg C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists warn we should not cross.

The year is 2030.

THE COFFEE FARMER

You are a 60-year-old coffee farmer in Nicaragua, who is selling your produce to an organic wholesaler.

Global demand has soared, and commodity prices tripled since 2015, but business is not so good. Scorching temperatures have decimated your output even after you sold your land to purchase a higher-altitude parcel in search of cooler climes.

Not only are yields down, but also the quality of your beans.

Small consolation that many of your 20 million fellow coffee-growers around the world are in similarly dire straits.

THE HIGH-FLYING LAWYER

You are a 39-year-old real estate lawyer in West Palm Beach, Florida. You are flush, and life is sweet, despite your million-dollar house having been swept away three years earlier by Hurricane Hillary.

Sea levels have risen only 14cm in the last 15 years, but Hillary's tide-enhanced storm surge caused US$500 billion in damages. Since Washington cancelled federal flood insurance for properties under a metre above sea level, you have more clients than you can handle.

They are suing private insurance companies, claiming bankruptcy to avoid having to pay out, and though your clients may get only 20 cents for every policy-insured dollar, you still get your fees.

THE INDONESIAN FISHERMAN

You used to work fishing boats out of Surabaya, a port city in Java, but are now unemployed.

The bottom fell out of the local industry in the mid-2020s. Intensive harvesting had already caused several species to collapse, including bigeye and yellowfin.

But as oceans warmed, other species - the Pacific bluefin, crevalle jack, scad - moved to cooler waters beyond the reach of local vessels.

No other species have come to replace them.

THE ALPINE HOTELIER

You own a ski-resort hotel in the French Alps at an altitude of 1,280m. Since 2020, for two years out of three, you have had to manufacture snow to ensure the season. In 2022 and 2028 it was so warm that even artificial flakes could not keep the lifts going.

The silver lining: Summer tourism has picked up, as people seek alternatives to scorching heat waves.

THE SAHEL SUBSISTENCE FARMER

Ten years ago, you replaced your millet crop with genetically-modified, drought-resistant sorghum as desertification creeps up on you in the north-eastern corner of the Mopti region of Mali.

That was a good move. But as the local climate gets drier by the year, you wonder how long you and your family can hold out.

You have resolved: When the goats die, you will join the other villagers who have already fled to the capital Bamako.

THE TASMANIAN WINEGROWER

Parts of the island - Australia's southernmost inhabited outpost - now rival France's fabled Burgundy region, as the lead grower of the fabled pinot noir and chardonnay grapes. Tassie's Champagne-style wine wins big awards too.

Oh, what a difference an extra two degrees can make!

Wine exports from Tasmania's Tamar Valley are soaring with grape-growing temperatures now in the ideal range.

THE FUTURE

You are a seven-year-old only child living with your professional-class parents in a 23rd-storey Shanghai apartment. You were not even born when 195 nations struck a deal in Paris, in December 2015, vowing to slash carbon pollution by a large enough margin to keep global warming in check.

They failed, and Earth is on track for warming of 4 deg C by 2100.

You'll be 77 when you greet the 22nd century. Good luck getting there.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Danger zone: A mere 2 deg C away from global warming'. Print Edition | Subscribe