Climate Change Impact on Our Past and Future

Impacts of climate change on environment? We haven’t been able to keep our planet’s climate the same for very long. Holocene is a geologic epoch that began about 11,500 years ago. For example, it began when temperatures began to rise again. As glaciers moved north and south into the arctic and the Antarctic, new temperate areas were revealed from beneath the ice, showing recent locations hidden by the frost.

During the Neolithic Revolution, these global climate changes happened simultaneously, shifting from nomadic hunting and gathering to farming and permanent settlement. As well as that.

Climate Change Impact
A comparison of the skulls of Homo sapiens (left) and Neanderthals (right). – WikiCC

At the start of the Holocene, humans who looked like modern humans (Homo sapiens) had been around for about 300,000 years. In the past 60,000 years, humans have moved from Africa to Eurasia, Australia, and the Americas. During this time, human culture and technology stayed the same, with people burying the dead, painting caves, using fire, making nets for fishing, and creating tools out of stone and wood.

Climate Change Impact
The 1889–1900 excavations of Nippur, an ancient Sumerian city in Mesopotamia founded in 5,000 BC, are depicted in this oil painting. – WikiCC

But when the ice age ended, it was the start of our evolution into civilized societies. Humans started growing crops, raising animals, making metal tools, traveling, writing, trading, becoming more complex religious, political, and military states, and making more complex tools. It was an amazing and unique change that might not have happened if the climate had not made us do it. But when did the next thing, and what were the Negative Effects of Climate Change?

Civilization Development

It has changed a lot since the Holocene period began. These changes have impacted the human civilizations that have grown up on Earth. In the beginning, it helped decide where these civilizations would grow up. These places became known as the “six cradles of human civilization.”

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Civilization’s six cradles. — Creative Commons: A Learning Family

At about 30° latitude, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Indus Valley, the Yellow River Valley in China, Mexico, and Peru. Peru is at approximately -15° latitude, Mexico is about 25° latitude, and Mexico is about 25° latitude away. Only these places were well-placed on the planet and had the right geography for long-lasting civilizations to grow and spread.

Geography plays a significant role in some of these things, like how Egypt was built around the fertile flood plains of the Nile River. But there’s also a pattern of latitude, which is how far from the equator each place is. When it comes to things like this, what does latitude have to do with it?

The Determinism of the Environment

Environmental determinism is a field of study that looks at how the physical environment shapes a civilization’s development and why it is so wealthy now. One of these theories is called the equatorial paradox, which says that most of a country’s economic and growth potential comes from the climate zone in which it was born, especially the temperature. The hottest places on Earth are near or at the equator.

As you move north or south to the poles, things get cooler. Studies in this field say that the ideal temperature for human economic activity and prosperity is about 13°C (or 55°F), but this isn’t always the case. The basic idea is that:

… Because humans evolved from tropical mammals, those who moved to colder climates attempted to reestablish their physiological homeostasis through wealth creation. This act entails producing more food, better housing, heating, warm clothing, etc. Humans who remain in warmer climates, on the other hand, are more physiologically comfortable simply due to temperature and thus have less incentive to work to increase their comfort levels.

— From Wikipedia

Look at the map below of current temperature data. We should be able to find the wealthiest countries in a yellow-orange band that corresponds to a temperature of 13°C, which is where the map is from.

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A map of the annual average temperature around the world. – WikiCC

At about 45°N and 45°S latitudes, we can see the United States, South America’s Pacific Coast, Europe, Russia, China, and Japan. Australia’s Pacific Coast and New Zealand are on the other side of the world. Looking at most rankings of economic well-being in the modern world, this is in line with most of them (with some exceptions, including Singapore and Saudi Arabia, which, although located in warm regions, are also very prosperous).

But when you think about where these places are, it seems a little out of place with the locations of the six cradles of civilization. Each of the ancient regions was at a lower latitude (between 30°S and 30°N), which meant the temperature would be higher. This would make it too hot to reach peak productivity. Today, most of Egypt and Mesopotamia are deserts with only a few patches of flood- or rain-fed land.

This isn’t the ideal climate for maximum prosperity and growth. So why did civilizations grow up in these places instead of the places where the equatorial paradox says they should have been? Climate change, of course, is the answer to this question.

Climate Change Examples and Historical Empires: Rise and Fall

Holocene is a period that began 11,500 years ago. The climate didn’t always look like it does now. Temperatures swung up and down. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the oceans fluctuated. There were also rainy days, but there were also cold spells. People who were building civilizations in the early millennia were still affected by many environmental factors after they were formed. If we look at how they rise and fall along the Earth’s latitude lines, we might see a pattern that could have significant implications for our futures.

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The Great Sphinx of Giza and Khafre’s Pyramid. – WikiCC

Changes in the temperature and humidity caused the economic decline and even famine and rain in Ancient Egypt. Politicians and people in Egypt got into fights. Egypt also had a hard time defending itself against foreign enemies. A lot of things changed in the Nile River Valley over time. It was drier by the time the empire of Ancient Egypt came to an end in 1,100 BC. Over time, the best place for humans to grow moved north, which led to the Roman Empire’s control of the Mediterranean.

But Rome, too, came to an end. Many things led to this, from political instability and corruption to military defeats, but climate also played a role. In one of the most interesting climate-related changes that happened, the Huns, who lived on the arid plains of central Asia, had many things happen to them. Changes in temperature and precipitation caused widespread drought in these lands, making the Huns move west. It was led by the notorious Attila, which led the Huns to invade aggressively.

People from the Gothic kingdoms on Rome’s borders were pushed into Roman territory, making it hard to control the region. After a while, these territories were split up into small, independent kingdoms that lasted long after Rome had died out.

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The Colosseum’s facade is a well-known symbol of the Roman Empire. – WikiCC

Later, two new empires took their place: the Holy Roman Empire, a loose group of Germanic kingdoms in central Europe, and the Byzantine Empire, which embraced Greek culture and Christianity and was based in the east. For the next 1,000 years, these empires went up and down and fought both foreign and domestic wars.

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The Holy Roman Empire (left — WikiCC) and the Byzantine Empire (right — Britannica Online).

But each one eventually came to an end, with the first giving rise to the modern, industrialized European colonial empires that have ruled the world for the last few hundred years. This happened in the 19th and 20th centuries when the United States and the Soviet Union became not only military and economic superpowers but also superpowers in their own right. A few years ago, China had come a long way from when other countries ruled it. It was now an economic powerhouse of its own.

Civilization’s Future

As modern-day global warming continues to rise exponentially, we’re speeding toward the next stage in this long history of different kinds of people having a lot of money. If the pattern we’ve looked at continues, the best place to be productive and make money will keep moving northward.

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Map of the Earth as seen from space, highlighting the proximity of future superpowers in the Arctic Circle. People in the future will most likely refer to this map much more frequently than they do today’s projections, which place Russia on the other side of the world. – WikiCC

Countries that are now the richest and most powerful would see their wealth and power decline over time because of a temperature rise. Nations at 60°N latitude would take over. These include Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, which are all very important. Southern hemisphere: 60°S is already very far south of Tiera del Fuego, the southernmost point of the South American mainland.

Beyond that, only Antarctica is left: If the trend continues to reach 70–75°N, then only Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Russia will be the best place to live. How will the world be different when these changes happen in the years to come?

The Fall of the USA

If you look at empires that once ruled the world, the United States will become less powerful and meaningful. A flood would happen because of rising sea levels. Tens of millions of Americans would be forced to leave their homes. It would also be less productive because of the warmer weather. This would weaken the country’s military power, making it more vulnerable to attack from its enemies worldwide.

When these battles are lost, the United States might have to give up some or all of its overseas territories and many of its military bases worldwide, which would be a lot of money. People worldwide can expect more conflict and violence if the former U.S. military leaves all of its current areas of operations. This will make many more countries unstable, which will make it even more difficult for them to deal with climate change.

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The fate of American democracy hangs in the balance on January 6, 2021, when an enraged mob storms the United States Capitol. They attempted to overturn the 2020 presidential election under the direction of lame-duck President Donald Trump. – WikiCC

These foreign setbacks would add to the many domestic problems that already exist, such as lower living standards, more unemployment, and the loss of government-funded social programs that help people in need. In a country where there are already signs of stark division, all this chaos could lead to unrest, which could cause the breakup of the United States, leaving behind some more minor, weaker states across North America.

For the first time in its history, people might leave the United States searching for opportunities and better lives for themselves and their families. In this case, Canada, Alaska, and Greenland could be good places to go.

Each of these places would benefit from having access to once-frozen land that can be used for mining, farming, and year-round ports in the Arctic Ocean. Things could get so bad between countries that used to be part of the United States that Canada would have to severely limit immigration, which would cause as much controversy and trouble as the United States has with its southern border with Mexico now.

Europe’s Fall

Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and the Netherlands could all go down the same way in Europe’s economic powerhouses. If climate change pushes these countries out of the ideal zone of prosperity, they can expect the same fate as the poorer European countries of today. These countries are in trouble because they have low incomes and high national debt and have been attacked by other countries. These problems will likely make people angry and start a fight in the region, which will put the alliances and treaties of NATO and those of the European Union to a real test.

If these long-standing institutions break down, the countries of Europe will fall even deeper into conflict, with all the same things that have happened in the past: tyrants in power, millions killed, cities destroyed, widespread displacement and migration, borders redrawn, starvation, disease, crimes against humanity, and so on.

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In France, the gilets Jaunes (yellow vests) protest. Protesters were upset, among other things, about rising oil prices and fuel taxes that harmed the working class. Climate change-related issues will cause unrest on the streets. – WikiCC

Russia, the new and unopposed global superpower in the neighborhood, would have much geopolitical power in the region. Vladimir Putin could choose which fledgling European country to back or destroy in a series of proxy wars. Or, he could aggressively gobble up all the territory he wanted in the search for resources and stability. We’re going to go into more detail about Russia soon because its chances of becoming the world’s leader have never been better.

Alaska and Canada’s Rise

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Canada’s vast territory, including its vast archipelago extending into the Arctic circle. Nearby Alaska is large and isolated enough to function as its own country if the United States disintegrates. — Maps by Google

If the United States breaks up, Alaska will become its own country. It will then be positioned to be a powerful force in the Arctic Circle. It could become a major geopolitical player in the fight against everyone’s main enemy, Russia.

As Canada’s economy grows, it will likely need to become more militarized, focusing on its navy and air force to keep up with the rest of the world in the Arctic. It might be able to buy a lot of military equipment from the states that used to be part of the United States. Like the countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union, these new states would have a lot of weapons and other technology that they might not be able to use, so they’d be desperate to sell them.

Based on how well the United States and Canada have worked together before, the new country of Alaska and the future country of Canada would most likely work together very closely. A little bit of good fortune will keep the Alaska-Canada alliance ready to use nuclear weapons to keep Russia from threatening to use them to achieve its lofty foreign policy goals. Still, they might not be able to do this for very long.

Scandinavia’s Rise

If you live in Scandinavia, you’ll be at the center of world politics and economic development. This will happen mainly in Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Iceland. While the rest of Europe falls apart, trade across the Arctic from the many ports in the Arctic will make these countries rich and powerful.

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Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are all members. — From Google Maps

But because Russia is so close, the Scandinavian countries are likely to become allies and defense partners in a group like NATO. They will likely form a group like this. This would be necessary, as it is now, to keep Russia at bay and protect the poorer European countries from war and chaos. There are likely to be a lot of rich Scandinavian countries like Canada that will want to protect their interests in the Arctic, which will become a significant source of trade and power.

The countries of Eurasia and North America could face a fierce battle for resources, workers, technology, and military power if Russia’s politics and behavior change in the future. Even if this unlikely alliance doesn’t happen, Russia could invade its Scandinavian neighbors and set up puppet governments that solidify Russia’s grip on the region. People in countries that aren’t as cold as Canada and Greenland would be the only ones who could fight against Russia’s foreign policy goals. The rest of the world’s warmer, smaller, and less developed countries would be on the sidelines, hoping for the best.

Greenland’s Strategic Importance

One big island takes center stage and gets a lot of attention as we start to look at the world in a new way, looking at the Arctic Circle from the top down. Greenland is at the top of the list. As of 2020, there are only about 56,000 people on the world’s largest island. Most of its land is covered by ice sheets. Inuits, Scandinavians, and Europeans have all lived there over time. It was the first part of Norway in the 13th century, then part of the Kingdom of Denmark from the 17th century until today.

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Greenland is situated perfectly between the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans, just off the coast of the Canadian Archipelago and across the Norwegian Sea from Scandinavia. — Maps by Google

Greenland’s strategic value in the future Arctic Circle is clear. Ice sheets covering most of its land could melt as the climate warms. This vast island with many small islands and peninsulas on its coast would become a center of economic and military power.

Greenland has already been a significant place even though it is very cold and covered in ice. During World War II, the United States took over Greenland to protect it from Nazi Germany, which was then taking over Denmark. It didn’t work out for the U.S. to buy Greenland after the war. Thule Air Base in Greenland, Greenland, has been home to the U.S. military since 1950. It was a strategic location for NATO as it tried to gain geopolitical influence against the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

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A fictitious map of the United States and its flag if Greenland were to become the union’s 51st state (modified by author). WikiCC | WikiCC

With China and the E.U. trying to get Greenland, there was still a lot of interest in the country. In 2019, President Trump made a famous offer to buy Greenland from Denmark. Many people thought it was a joke or just another publicity stunt from the president of the United States. The idea of adding Greenland to the United States’ territories, or even making it the 51st state, was not a joke. It would be perfect for the country both now and in the future. Whether through diplomacy, purchase, or force, whoever gets it will be able to get a lot out of it.

Russia’s Rise

People in Russia will get the most out of this predicted climate change and new world order. People and businesses will be able to live and use the vast frozen wilderness in the north as the temperature rises.

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Russia’s vast territory is perfectly situated at higher latitudes, occupying nearly half of the Arctic Circle’s perimeter. Its navy, ports, and merchant fleets will be a dominant force in the Arctic Ocean as temperatures rise and ocean ice melts. – Maps by Google

The land that isn’t very populated in Siberia has a lot of frozen ground that can be used for farming. These lands also have some of the most valuable resources anywhere globally, like oil, natural gas, coal, timber, copper, diamonds, uranium, mercury, gold, and silver. Because of this, the country’s Arctic ports will be able to work all year long instead of being blocked by ice sheets all winter long. Russia will become a significant source of global trade and become very rich.

The rise in economic prosperity will lead to a massive increase in the number of people living in its major cities and the creation of new towns in the areas that are already habitable. With more money and people, Russia will become more and more diverse. The country will likely become a global leader in the industry, technology, and cultural diversity in the years to come.

Even though Russia has a lot of good things going for it, there could be a lot of new problems for it. Suppose any of the above theories is true. In that case, billions of people could leave Europe and Asia searching for jobs or fleeing areas that are no longer habitable because of climate change. As the world moves to a new balance of power, Russia could also be a good target for other struggling countries that don’t have land in the new area of optimal prosperity.

Seeing Siberia’s huge, resource-rich grounds might make China and Japan want to snort with envy. When these Asian countries become desperate, they might try to get some of this land for themselves in a last-ditch effort to stay relevant in the new world order.

Russia’s government is likely to become even more paranoid and aggressive in its foreign policy if other countries, like Eastern Europe and the Middle East, try to get into the country, even if they don’t have weapons. Russia has many lands exposed to the Arctic Ocean all year long, and there are more than a dozen countries on its Eurasian borders. Because of this, Russia has no choice but to use its wealth, power, and influence to get what it wants from its neighbors.

Activist naval action in the Arctic Circle and more expansion of its borders into sovereign states in Eurasia could be part of this plan. Suppose today’s politics in Russia are any guide. In that case, the country is likely to take over smaller, weaker countries and turn them into a giant empire that could easily beat the Soviet Union at its peak in the 20th century.

Conclusion and How Does Climate Change Affect Our Everyday Life

There you go. A climate-driven vision of the future that is both fascinating and scary; at the same time, hopeful and gloomy. And it isn’t that far away. Much of what this article talks about could happen before the end of this century because of the rapid rate of climate change we’re seeing now. In other words, this will be the political and economic landscape that our next two or three generations will live in.

Is there anything else to say? Is there going to be any change in the 22nd and 23rd centuries when there is no optimal productivity zone on Earth? I don’t think that’s where we’re going. Will humanity be able to stay stable long enough to see the technological progress that is needed?

There is no way to predict the future.

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