Tonawanda News

Columns

January 27, 2013

DUVALL: Taking a look into the future

Tonawanda News — I really like it when people make predictions about the future — mostly because they’re never actually right.

No one ever seems to predict the really important things that happen, like a major financial collapse or the entire Middle East turning into a seething cauldron of riots and xenophobia. It would have been helpful, to say the least, if we’d seen those two things coming.

Still, I read with interest the story on page 12 of today’s paper, the predictions large and small made at the hoitey toitey Davos World Economic Forum. It’s the annual gathering of a bunch of really smart people who can afford to fly to Switzerland to hear other people — and also themselves — talk.

Read the AP’s account and make judgments for yourself on whether any of these things will happen. But if you don’t, I’ll do it for you:

The weather

On this topic it would seem all smart people can agree the world will continue to get warmer and the number of freakish weather events will become common enough that only a football-sized meteor smashing into earth and blocking out the sun for 40 years will seem really weird.

Helpfully, one of the Davos people has put a number on the odds of total global annihilation due to climate change: “Oxford University physicist Tim Palmer — who said as a scientist he preferred probabilities to prediction — noted there is a 10- to 15-percent chance that the Earth will warm by 6 degrees Celsius within a century, leading to ‘catastrophic consequences for humanity’ ranging from extreme weather to rising seas.”

So, don’t make too many plans for 2113. There’s a 15 percent chance the earth will be rendered uninhabitable. And a much higher chance we’ll all be dead by then anyway.

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