One of the fascinating things in trying to do what I do, be that teaching, writing or lecturing, is to try to anticipate long term future trends, given the ever changing present. Sometimes the present gets my full attention, and sometimes I choose to ignore it in favor of developments that might become important factors in our future. The last few weeks are no exception. We were freezing over here with the Polar Vortex; meanwhile, the best tennis players in the world have been competing in 2014’s first big tennis tournament – the Australian Open. The temperature in Melbourne reached 1110F (~ 440C). The players, the ball boys/girls and the spectators were very unhappy, but the tournament management was, for a time, dismissing the complaints. The Chief Medical Officer of the tournament was quoted as saying, “We’ve evolved in the high plains of Africa chasing antelope for eight hours under these conditions.”
Both ends of the temperature scale were blamed on climate change, with the deep freeze of the Polar Vortex to be used as the “absolute proof” that we are not experiencing global warming but instead we are going through global cooling. This stream of thought seems to come up no matter how many times scientists assert that a single weather event on either scale can never be used as a proof for or against anthropogenic (human influenced) climate change. Since I already wrote about the extreme temperature and the abundance of fires in Australia (January 14, 2013 blog) I decided that this time, I would skip the discussion of the present, and instead continue to focus on the future and population.