A parts of the world become increasingly uninhabitable due to climate change what does that mean for the future of people living on the frontline? In his new book MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us, Dr Parag Khanna explores four potential future scenarios that might lie ahead for people and planet.
“One scenario is what I call regional fortresses, where the northern continents – North America, Europe, North East Asia, these are regions that are rich, stable, secure – they invest in their own sustainability,” he told me. “They share some technology with poorer regions but they don’t actually allow a lot of migration. It’s kind of like the present, extrapolated into the future.”
He continued: “Then there are another couple of scenarios I fleshed out called the new middle ages and barbarians at the gate, where you have very little sustainability, and uncontrolled migration – either a little or a lot but the bottom line is its violent, it’s not done sustainably and you can have resource conflicts, water wars and that kind of thing so it’s kind of a hunter gatherer, geopolitical anarchical kind of world. The final scenario and the one that I hope resonates most of all with people is what I call Northern Lights and in this fourth scenario you have a world where you have a relocation of populations that are in vulnerable areas, where we do a lot of technology transfer to allow vulnerable populations to do their own localised agriculture more efficiently, and provide them with water desalination, solar power, renewable energy technologies. And where we need to we relocate hundreds of millions – if not billions of people – to stable climate resilient areas in the northern hemisphere, but we do so sustainably. We build new settlements that are also circular with renewable power, hydroponic agriculture, waste water treatment, rain water collection, all of these things so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past in terms of mass urbanisation. So the Northern Lights scenario is unfortunately only one out of four scenarios in the book and it’s not necessarily the most likely one but it’s the one that I think we should aspire to.”
He added: “This is fundamentally a book about geography, like all my other books. It’s not about one geography but geographies of resources, people, borders and infrastructure, bringing those together in a dynamic way that actually benefits us.”
Catch up with the full podcast for more from the pages of MOVE: The Forces Uprooting Us.
Mark Shepard, the award-winning author of: Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers, was one of my guests this week on Inside Ideas.
“Restoration agriculture is more like describing a process than a prescription. It’s not do this, do that, more: these are the ecological principles that we’re working with, this is how this seems to work in this area, if it’s hot, cold, dry, wet, all of those things affect how the system will work,” he told me. “It is also a little bit more deliberate than a rewilding in that we intentionally set up the ecological ecosystem that’s native to the area. We use genetics that have already been improved for yield, pest and disease resistance, and then arrange them in orderly patterns based on managing the rainfall and potential run-off that will hit the site.”
He added: “So our interactions with the system more closely mimic the natural disturbances that would manage and maintain those systems in the wild. So we try to mimic fire, we mimic grazing, that sort of thing. It is a little bit more deliberate and intentional than a rewilding. But similar principles apply, in that once we set up the system, it’s a semi-natural system.”
Catch up with the full podcast for more from the pages of Restoration Agriculture: Real-World Permaculture for Farmers.