Global Warming 2020 | Climate Change 2020 

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Heat Waves 2020

2020. Stanford study projects that intense heat waves are likely to occur as many as five times between 2020 and 2029 over areas of the western and central U.S.  “Exceptionally long heat waves and other hot events could become commonplace in the United States in the next 30 years [2010 – 2039], according to a new study by Stanford University climate scientists.  ‘Using a large suite of climate model experiments, we see a clear emergence of much more intense, hot conditions in the U.S. within the next three decades,’ said Noah Diffenbaugh, an assistant professor of environmental Earth system science at Stanford and the lead author of the study. . . . The [study, Intensification of hot extremes in the United States], took two years to complete and is co-authored by Moetasim Ashfaq, a former Stanford postdoctoral fellow now at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The study comes on the heels of a recent NASA report that concluded that the previous decade, January 2000 to December 2009, was the warmest on record. . . . ‘This was an unprecedented experiment,’ Diffenbaugh said. ‘With the high-resolution [RegCM3] climate model, we can analyze geographic quadrants that are only 15.5 miles [25 kilometers] to a side. No one has ever completed this kind of climate analysis at such a high resolution.’ The results were surprising.

According to the climate models, an intense heat wave – equal to the longest on record from 1951 to 1999 [a period of 48 years] – is likely to occur as many as five times between 2020 and 2029 [a period of 9 years] over areas of the western and central United States. . . .

Besides harming human health and agriculture, these hot, dry conditions could lead to more droughts and wildfires in the near future, he said. And many of these climate change impacts could occur within the next two decades [2010-2030] -- years before the planet is likely to reach the 2-degree C threshold targeted by some governments and climate experts, [Diffenbaugh] added.” (Mark Shwartz, communications manager, Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford University, “Heat waves and extremely high temperatures could be commonplace in the U.S. by 2039, Stanford study finds,” Stanford Report, July 8, 2010 citing findings in Diffenbaugh, N., and M. Ashfaq. Intensification of hot extremes in the United States. Geophys. Res. Lett., (in press) DOI: 10.1029/2010GL043888, published August 6, 2010)

The Diffenbaugh, and Ashfaq forecasts published in 2010 do not include contributions of carbon and methane emissions released from melting permafrost.

Number of Extremely Hot Seasons Per Decade 2020-2029

Projected heat for U.S. -- Source:  Diffenbaugh and Ashfaq, Aug., 6, 2010. 

2020.  By 2020 excess U.S. annual summer deaths due to extreme heat events projected to reach 1,981 to 4,100.  “In a study on the impact of future climate scenarios on mortality in 44 cities [SMSAs], Kalkstein and Greene estimate that by 2020, under a business-as-usual emissions scenario, excess annual summer deaths will increase from 1840 to 1981 – 4100 (depending on the GCM used), and by 2050 up to 3190 – 4748 excess deaths will occur each summer.” Global warming death rates.  (George Luber, MA, PhD, Michael McGeehin, PhD, MSPH, “Climate Change and Extreme Heat Events,” American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2008;35(5):429–435, November 2008, p. 431 citing findings in Laurence S. Kalkstein and J. Scott Greene, “An evaluation of climate/mortality relationships in large U.S. cities and the possible impacts of a climate change,” Environmental Health Perspectives, Volume 105, No. 1, January 1997, Table 4 and pp. 90-91)

2020.  Heat-related deaths projected to double in some areas.  “Heating of the atmosphere can influence health through several routes. Most directly, it can generate more, stronger and hotter heat waves, which will become especially treacherous if the evenings fail to bring cooling relief. Unfortunately, a lack of nighttime cooling seems to be in the cards; the atmosphere is heating unevenly and is showing the biggest rises at night, in winter and at latitudes higher than about 50 degrees. In some places, the number of deaths related to heat waves is projected to double by 2020. Prolonged heat can, moreover, enhance production of smog and the dispersal of allergens. Both effects have been linked to respiratory symptoms.” (Paul R. Epstein, “Is Global Warming Harmful to Health?,” Scientific American, August, 2000)

For a more comprehensive compilation of forecasts see global warming heat waves.

Temperatures 2020

2020.  Temperatures on Earth projected by 2020 to be at the hottest levels in 150,000 years.  “Astronomer and author Carl Sagan says a closer look at Venus could help inspire Earth's residents to break their dependence on fossil fuels.  Speaking to more than 1,000 people Thursday [September 13, 1990] at the College of Southern Idaho, Sagan said Venus is an incredibly hot, barren planet because of the intense greenhouse effect there.  And that should be a lesson to people on Earth, which faces a worsening greenhouse effect with the continued use of fuels like oil and coal, which produce carbon dioxide that traps heat in the atmosphere. 

‘Every lump of coal burned, every gallon of gas, puts carbon dioxide in the air,’ Sagan said. ‘Doubters of the greenhouse effect need look no farther than Venus, which has lots of carbon dioxide and surface temperatures of 900 degrees Fahrenheit.’  If the buildup of carbon dioxide continues in the Earth's atmosphere, he said, temperatures on Earth are projected to be at their hottest level in 150,000 years by the year 2020.” (Carl Sagan quoted in “Sagan Says Fossil-Fuel Use May Turn Earth Into A Venus,” The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 16, 1990, p. B4)  See Carl Sagan's published works, documentaries and video of Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking on climate disruption and global warming.

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Venus is an incredibly hot, barren planet because of the intense greenhouse effect there.  And that should be a lesson to people on Earth, which faces a worsening greenhouse effect with the continued use of fuels like oil and coal, which produce carbon dioxide that traps heat in the atmosphere. (1) 

— Carl Sagan
Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Pulitzer Prize winner
Twin Falls, Idaho

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Droughts, Global Warming

2020.  Climate models project States in the American southwest face permanent drought.  “’Dust Bowl’ drought driven by global warming will be the normal climate of the future for the American Southwest, report climatologists.  ‘We're essentially moving the desert further north,’ says Mingfang Ting of Columbia University, co-author of a study released Thursday by the journal Science. By 2020, rain estimates show ‘very unusual’ agreement among climate projections, with the Southwestern states facing permanent drought. That would worsen already arid conditions in Las Vegas, Phoenix and other locales dependent on the Colorado River, Ting says.” (Dan Vergano, “Study forecasts new 'Dust Bowl',” USA Today, Arlington, Virginia, April 6, 2007, p. 8A citing findings from Richard Seager, Mingfang Ting, Isaac Held,  Yochanan Kushnir,  Jian Lu,  Gabriel Vecchi,  Huei-Ping Huang,  Nili Harnik,  Ants Leetmaa,  Ngar-Cheung Lau,  Cuihua Li,  Jennifer Velez,  Naomi Naik, “Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern North America,” Science DOI: 10.1126/Science.1139601, published online April 5, 2007) 

2021. Perpetual drought projected for Texas as early as 2021. Texas almost certainly faces a future of perpetual drought as bad as the record dry years of the 1950s because of global warming, climate scientists said in a study [Model Projections of an Imminent Transition to a More Arid Climate in Southwestern United States] published Thursday [April 5, 2007]. The trend toward a drier, hotter southwestern U.S., including all of Texas, probably has already begun and could become strikingly noticeable within about 15 years, according to a study led by Richard Seager of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory

Drought conditions [in Texas and the southwestern U.S.] are expected to resemble the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s and Texas' worst-ever drought of the 1950s, Seager said.  Unlike those droughts, however, the new conditions won't be temporary, the study found.  ‘This time, once it's in, it's in for good,’ Seager said. . . . Previous studies have projected an increase in drought conditions in the arid southwestern U.S. and northern Mexico as average temperatures rise, but the Columbia-led study, published Thursday by the journal Science, fills in crucial details. Researchers from the federal government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton University, the private National Center for Atmospheric Research and Tel Aviv University also participated.  The Columbia research team examined the output of 19 climate models that made a total of 49 projections of future rainfall, temperatures and evaporation in the Southwest. All but three of the projections concluded that the region would face a serious increase in drought conditions as early as 2021. 

‘The models agree strongly on this,’ Seager said. . . . All of Texas would receive significantly less rain, with conditions generally becoming drier toward West and southwest Texas. Parts of New Mexico, Arizona, western Mexico, the Yucatan peninsula and nearly all of Central America would see extreme drought.”  (Randy Lee Loftis, “Perpetual drought projected as early as 2021 in Texas,” The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, April 6, 2007) 

Water Shortages | Water Scarcity

2021.  50% chance that Lake Mead will be dry by 2021.  “There is a 50 percent chance Lake Mead, a key source of water for millions of people in the southwestern United States, will be dry by 2021 if climate changes as expected and future water usage is not curtailed, according to a pair of researchers at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Without Lake Mead and neighboring Lake Powell, the Colorado River system has no buffer to sustain the population of the Southwest through an unusually dry year, or worse, a sustained drought. In such an event, water deliveries would become highly unstable and variable, said research marine physicist Tim Barnett and climate scientist David Pierce. . . .

Barnett said that the researchers chose to go with conservative estimates of the situation in their analysis, though the water shortage is likely to be more dire in reality [see Underestimates].  The team based its findings on the premise that climate change effects only started in 2007, though most researchers consider human-caused changes in climate to have likely started decades earlier. They also based their river flow on averages over the past 100 years, even though it has dropped in recent decades. Over the past 500 years the average annual flow is even less.” See heat waves global warming.  (“Lake Mead Could Be Dry by 2021,” news release, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Tuesday, February 12, 2008 reporting findings in Tim P. Barnett and David W. Pierce, "When will Lake Mead go dry?," Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, Journal of Water Resources Research, January 23, 2008)

See Barnett video on “Outlook for Lake Mead” and “How the forecast was created.”

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"We were stunned at the magnitude of the problem [of Lake Mead drying up] and how fast it was coming at us.  Make no mistake, this water problem is not a scientific abstraction, but rather one that will impact each and every one of us that live in the Southwest." (8)  

— Tim P. Barnett, Ph.D.
Marine Physicist
Scripps Institution of Oceanography

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2020.  Chronic water shortages in California.  “This is the vision state water planners have for California:  Chronic water shortages by the year 2020. Increasing competition among farmers, cities and the environment for supplies. An area nearly the size of Riverside taken out of irrigated farming.  City dwellers increasingly will be required to conserve. More water will be transferred from farms to cities. More costly reservoirs and canals must be built to carry water and store it against drought needs.  And, nearly 50 million people thirsting for water.” (Douglas E. Beeman, “State faces thirsty future, report says,” The Press-Enterprise, Riverside, California, February 2, 1994, p. A07)

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"Populations are outrunning the water supply." (2)

— Joe Grindstaff, General Manager
Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority
Riverside, California

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2020.  Between 75 million and 250 million in Africa projected to suffer from water shortages.  “Climate change will aggravate the water stress currently faced by some countries, while some countries that currently do not experience water stress will become at risk of water stress (very high confidence). Climate change and variability are likely to impose additional pressures on water availability, water accessibility and water demand in Africa. Even without climate change, several countries in Africa, particularly in northern Africa, will exceed the limits of their economically usable land-based water resources before 2025. About 25% of Africa’s population (about 200 million people) currently experience high water stress. The population at risk of increased water stress in Africa is projected to be between 75-250 million and 350-600 million people by the 2020s and 2050s, respectively.” (IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, Chapter 9-Africa, p. 435)   

For more detailed chronological forecasts of water supply and water shortages, see global warming and water.

Wildfires, Global Warming

2020.  Global warming projected to cost New Mexico $488 million in wildfire-related costs in 2020 if greenhouse gases are not reduced.  “If nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, New Mexico could experience some $3.2 billion in associated costs -- led primarily by wildfires and health-care.  This could translate to an individual tab of about 8 percent of annual household income by 2020, according to a report produced for the University of Oregon's the Climate Leadership Initiative's Program on Climate Economics by ECONorthwest. . .New Mexico will face more frequent wildfires amid prolonged heat waves, significant reductions in precipitation except for northern regions where increases are anticipated and increased seasonal droughts and floods.

Hotter weather -- with summer temperatures rising up to 12.6 [degrees] Fahrenheit over current averages by 2080 -- would increase air-conditioning costs, health-care complications and the state's death rate, especially for residents without access to home cooling. .  .‘Our assessment shows that climate change will impose many different types of costs on the citizens of New Mexico. . .We anticipate health-related costs of almost $421 million, wildfire-related costs of $488 million and energy-related costs of $248 million per year in 2020.’ [said the report's lead author, Ernie Niemi, a principal with ECONorthwest, a fellow with the Climate Leadership Initiative (CLI) and a [University of Oregon Program on Climate Economics] steering-committee member].” (“What if New Mexico doesn't address climate change?,” University of Oregon Media Relations, March 2, 2009)

2020.  Acres burned by wildfire in the State of Washington projected to increase by 50 percent by 2020 with an annual cost of fighting wildfires that may exceed $75 million. “Increased carbon dioxide will mean bigger trees, while higher temperatures increase the incidence of wildfire. The number of acres burned will increase by 50 percent by 2020 and by 100 percent by 2040, so the annual cost of fighting wildfires may exceed $75 million by 2020 - 50 percent higher than the current expenditures. That cost will double by 2040.  Lost timber sales, lost recreational and tourism opportunities, and health problems stemming from fires could be ‘many times higher’ than the cost of fire control, [Bob Doppelt, director of the Climate Leadership Initiative at the University of Oregon and co-author of 2007 study titled Impacts of Climate Change on Washington's Economy] said.” (Dan Richman, “Global Warming To Cost Us - Millions Will Be Spent On Higher Prices, Fixes, Study Says,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, January 11, 2007)  View wildfire maps.

See a more comprehensive summary of global warming fire forecasts.  

Ice Free Arctic | Arctic Melting

2020.  Arctic will be largely open water in summer by 2020  (see NASA Goddard's 2013 ice free projection for the Arctic)“The Arctic Ocean is likely to be largely ice-free every summer within ten years. New data released today by the Catlin Arctic Survey and WWF supports the new consensus view that the Arctic will be mostly open water in summer by 2020.  The Catlin Arctic Survey team, led by Pen Hadow, carried out more than 6,000 measurements and observations between March and May this year on a 450km route across the northern part of the Beaufort Sea.  This region of the Arctic Ocean is normally covered with thick, multi-year ice at that time of year (the Arctic winter), but the survey results instead indicate a thin, first-year ice covering."

"The findings have been analysed by the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, headed up by leading oceanographer Professor Peter Wadhams, who says: 

'With a larger part of the region now first year ice, it is clearly more vulnerable. The area is now more likely to become open water each summer, bringing forward the potential date when the summer sea ice will be completely gone.'  'The Catlin Arctic Survey data supports the new consensus view, based on seasonal variation of ice extent and thickness, changes in temperatures, winds and especially ice composition, that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within about 20 years, and that much of the decrease will be happening within 10 years.'” (“Catlin Survey predicts ice-free Arctic summers,” M2 Presswire, October 15, 2009)

View other research findings and forecasts for Arctic climate change.

Glaciers Melting, Global Warming

2020.  Year the Bolivian Chacaltaya glacier — which disappeared in 2009-2010 — was forecast to disappear.  “The glaciers that ring the [Bolivian] cities [of La Paz and El Alto] have essentially provided natural low-maintenance storage, collecting water in the short rainy season and releasing it for water and electricity in the long dry one. With warmer temperatures and changing rainfall, they no longer do so.  ‘The effects are appearing much more rapidly than we can respond to them, and a reservoir takes five to seven years to build. I’m not sure we have that long,’ said Edson Ramírez, a Bolivian glaciologist who has documented and projected the glaciers’ retreat for two decades.  The retreat has outpaced his wildest predictions. He had predicted that one glacier, Chacaltaya, would last until 2020. It disappeared this year.  In 2006, he said El Alto water demand would outstrip supply by 2009. It happened.” (Elisabeth Rosenthal, “In Bolivia, Water and Ice Tell of Climate Change,” The New York Times, December 14, 2009)

2020.  No snow predicted for the Cascade Mountains in 2020.  “Global warming will cause some mighty big calamities over the next century, unless we do something about it, fast.  For example, a Canadian research firm is predicting no snow for the Cascade Mountains by 2020. Scientists say forests may begin disappearing on the eastern slopes of the mountains. And research models have shown that temperatures will rise 1 degree each decade over the next 50 years, with the water in the Columbia River being reduced by 20 percent.” (Jeremy Meyer, “Global Warming Also a Hot Local Issue -- Scientists warn of 'serious, nasty things coming' if we don't mend our polluting ways,” Yakima Herald-Republic, October 6, 1999)

2020.  Glacier’s in Montana’s Glacier National Park expected to disappear by 2020 (revised from previous forecast of 2030). “It's an oft-repeated statistic that the glaciers at Montana's Glacier National Park will disappear by the year 2030.  But Daniel Fagre, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist who works at Glacier, says the park's namesakes will be gone about ten years ahead of schedule, endangering the region's plants and animals.  The 2030 date, he said, was based on a 2003 USGS study, along with 1992 temperature predictions by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

‘Temperature rise in our area was twice as great as what we put into the [1992] model," Fagre said.  ‘What we've been saying now is 2020.’  The 2020 estimate is based on aerial surveys and photography Fagre and his team have been conducting at Glacier since the early 1980s. A more standardized measure of what's happening to a glacier comes from arduous documentation of its mass, which requires—among other techniques—multiple core samples.  Fagre said the 2020 estimate could be slightly revised after his team conducts the mass measurements—hopefully this year—and their computer models are retooled with current temperatures.” (Anne Minard, “No More Glaciers in Glacier National Park by 2020?,” National Geographic News, National Geographic, Washington, DC, March 2, 2009)  Map of Glacier National Park.  View photos of retreating glaciers in Glacier National Park.

2020.  Mt. Kilimanjaro glacier projected to completely disappear by 2020 if melting continues at current rates.  “Ohio State University geology professor [Dr. Lonnie Thompson] has been studying glaciers and climate change for more than 20 years. Last year he published the findings from research he has done on Kilimanjaro. According to Thompson's data, some 30 percent of the mountain's ice cap has disappeared since 1979. Fully 82 percent has melted since the glacier was first mapped in 1912. ‘If the [Kilimanjaro] glacier continues to melt at its current rate, it will have completely disappeared by 2020,’ says Thompson. ‘And that's a conservative estimate.’” (David Gough, “The Melting Mountain,” Newsweek International, February 25, 2002 citing findings published in Lonnie G. Thompson, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Mary E. Davis, Keith A. Henderson, Henry H. Brecher,1 Victor S. Zagorodnov, Tracy A. Mashiotta, Ping-Nan Lin, Vladimir N. Mikhalenko, Douglas R. Hardy, Jürg Beer, “Kilimanjaro Ice Core Records: Evidence of Holocene Climate Change in Tropical Africa,” Science, October 18, 2002:Vol. 298. no. 5593, pp. 589 – 593)  View this AAAS interview with glaciologist, Dr. Lonnie Thompson.  Listen to this NPR interview with Dr. Lonnie Thompson, Global Warming's Impact on Glaciers, NPR Talk of the Nation, February 10, 2006. Listen to other interviews with Dr. Lonnie Thompson.

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It was all too much like visiting a sick friend in failing health. (3)

— Dr. Lonnie Thompson, Glaciologist
On the rapid decline of
Mt. Kilimanjaro’s melting glaciers
following an expedition to the summit 

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Storms, Hurricanes, Global Warming

2020.  A single storm occurring in 2020 could cause damage losses on the order of $500 billion.  “To better understand the potential for catastrophic damage from future hurricanes, scientists are looking to the past.  And the future looks very expensive, the scientists said this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. With wealth and property values increasing, and more people moving to vulnerable coasts, by the year 2020 a single storm could cause losses of $500 billion - several times the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.” (Kenneth Chang, “In Study, a History Lesson on the Costs of Hurricanes,” The New York Times, December 11, 2005)

Climate Change Tipping Points 2020

2020 – 2030.  Time frame when climate tipping point is projected to occur beginning the irreversible release of large volumes of greenhouse gases from melting permafrost.  “An irreversible climate ‘tipping point’ could occur within the next 20 years [between 2020 and 2030]  as a result of the release of huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the vast permafrost region of the Arctic, scientists have found.  Billions of tons of frozen leaves and roots [containing carbon] that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years in the permanently frozen ground of the northern hemisphere are thawing out, with potentially catastrophic implications for climate change, the researchers said." 

"A study into the speed at which the permafrost is melting suggests that the tipping point will occur between 2020 and 2030 and will mark the point at which the Arctic turns from being a net ‘sink’ for carbon dioxide into an overall source that will accelerate global warming, they said. . . . ‘Our research shows that the release of carbon from permafrost will result in an irreversible climate tipping point in only 20 years... Once the frozen carbon thaws out and decays, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost,’ [Dr. Kevin Schaefer of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado] said.” (Steve Connor, Science Editor, “Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years', The Independent, Monday, May 30, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett. Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, (Steve Connor, Science Editor, “Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years', The Independent, Monday, May 30, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett. Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, 63: 165–180. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x, Volume 63, Issue 2, pages 165–180, April 2011)

See more comprehensive permafrost melting forecasts detailing the projected timing and consequences of permafrost melting.

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Our research shows that the release of carbon from permafrost will result in an irreversible climate tipping point in only 20 years...

Once the frozen carbon thaws out and decays, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost. (9)

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Greenhouse Gas Emissions - CO2 Emissions 2020

2020. Global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak by 2020 at the latest.  “There is no consensus on what is considered a safe level of warming.  To have a good chance of limiting it to 2C (3.6F), global emissions of greenhouse gases need to peak by 2020 at the latest, be more than halved by 2050 compared with their 1990 and continue to decline thereafter.”  (“Climate: Factfile on the science,” AFP, Saturday, November 27, 2010)

2020. IPCC projects that global greenhouse gas emissions must be brought down by 2020 in order to keep global temperatures from exceeding +2 degrees Celsius.  “[I]f the world hopes to stabilise climate change and keep it from exceeding +2[degrees]C, GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions have to be brought down by 2020, [said Rajendra K. Pachauri, Chairman of the Nobel Prize-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)].” (“Climate Change : EU Can Serve as a Model in Combating Climate Change,” European Report, March 28, 2008)

2020.  Projection that the carbon emissions growth rate must begin to decline by 3% per year after 2020 in order to stabilize the climate.  “‘What most don't realise is that the biggest impact from climate change will be shifts in precipitation, not temperature increase,’ [Don McConnell, president of Battelle Energy Technology] told IPS [Inter Press Service] at the McCormick Energy Solutions Conference at Ohio State University this week.  Such changes have already been documented, with increasing frequency and severity of flooding and droughts.  In July [2009], researchers reported in the journal Nature Geoscience that the normal band of heavy rainfall around the equator has been creeping north, leaving areas once blessed with abundant rainfall high and dry.  ‘We're talking about the most prominent rainfall feature on the planet, one that many people depend on as the source of their freshwater because there is no groundwater to speak of where they live,’ said Julian Sachs, associate professor of oceanography at the University of Washington, in a release.

Global energy use is expected to climb 55 percent between 2005 and 2030, said McConnell, and without major changes, most of that increase will come from fossil fuels - pushing carbon emissions far beyond the point of unstoppable, catastrophic climate change, scientists agree.  To have an even chance of stabilising the climate at roughly two degrees C of warming, the current two- to three-percent annual growth in carbon emissions must flatline between 2015 and 2020 and start to decline by three percent per year, according to the latest scientific evidence. That means the target for the U.N. climate meeting in Copenhagen in December is a new international agreement to reduce global emissions by 50 percent compared to 1990 and to do that by 2050.” Emphasis added. View McConnell's PowerPoint presentation.  (Stephen Leahy, “Climate Change: Time To Act Is Running Out, Scientists Warn,” Inter Press Service English News Wire, September 25, 2009)

2020.  Original target year (since revised from 2020 to the year 2009) China was predicted to surpass the U.S. in carbon dioxide global warming emissions.  “Last November [2006], the International Energy Agency in Paris predicted that China would pass the United States in emissions of carbon dioxide in 2009. China had been expected to surpass the United States as late as 2020, but its soaring consumption of coal has rapidly increased the country’s emissions.  China derives nearly 70 percent of its energy from coal-fired power plants, many of them equipped with substandard pollution controls.  Chinese officials have long noted that China’s per capita emissions remain well below the averages in wealthier countries, including the United States.  Officials also argue that China remains a developing country without the financial resources or technological prowess to make a rapid shift to cleaner, more expensive energy technology.” [Emphasis added] (Jim Yardley, “China Says Rich Countries Should Take Lead on Global Warming,” The New York Times, February 7, 2007) 

2020.  China projected to have 3 times as many coal-fired power plants as the U.S. has in 2009.  “China is building more and more coal-fired power plants and, by 2020, will have three times as many as the United States has today.” (J. Wayne Leonard, CEO of Entergy, Op-Ed Contributor “A Better Shade of Green,” The New York Times, January 24, 2009)

2020.  China forecast to emit 60 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the U.S. by 2020. 
“China today [2009] is the biggest emitter in the world of greenhouse gases. They are going to be 60 percent bigger than us by 2020, 80 percent bigger than us by 2030.” (Todd Stern, U.S. Climate Envoy, interviewed by Richard Harris in "Climate Envoy: China, India Remain Stumbling Blocks," NPR All Things Considered, December 17, 2009)

2020.  Sweden to end its dependency on fossil fuels and become near oil-free economy by 2020. “Sweden is to take the biggest energy step of any advanced western economy by trying to wean itself off oil completely within 15 years - without building a new generation of nuclear power stations.  The attempt by the country of 9 million people to become the world's first practically oil-free economy is being planned by a committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, car makers, civil servants and others, who will report to parliament in several months.  The intention, the Swedish government said yesterday, is to replace all fossil fuels with renewables before climate change destroys economies and growing oil scarcity leads to huge new price rises.” (John Vidal, environment editor, “Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy,” The Guardian, London, United Kingdom, Wednesday 8 February 2006)

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"Our dependency on oil should be broken by 2020.  

There shall always be better alternatives to oil, which means no house should need oil for heating, and no driver should need to turn solely to gasoline. 

A Sweden free of fossil fuels would give us enormous advantages, not least by reducing the impact from fluctuations in oil prices." (5) 

— Mona Sahlin
Swedish Minister for Sustainable Development

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2020.  Russia to establish special Arctic border guard forces by 2020 to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic.  “Russia plans to create by 2020 a group of forces to protect its political and economic interests in the Arctic.  ‘The military component of the Arctic force will include units from the Northern and the Pacific fleets and military districts whose northern borders lie in the Arctic,’ the RIA Novosti news agency quoted Vyatcheslav Popov, [head of the Commission on Maritime Policy in Federation Council] as saying.  Russia's announcement of creating the Arctic force has aroused testy remarks from Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, who on Friday said ‘Canada will not be bullied’ when it comes to safeguard its own Arctic interests.  Several countries including Russia, Canada, the United States and a number of Nordic European nations are seeking to assert jurisdiction in the disputed territory in the Arctic region, which holds many untapped natural resources. The dispute has intensified as shrinking polar ice has allowed the opening of new shipping lanes to those natural resources.” (“New Arctic force to aim at border protection: Russian official,” Xinhua News Agency, March 30, 2009)  See Russian National Security Strategy for 2020.  See map of Russian territorial claims in the Arctic

Cost of Global Warming | Climate Change Costs 

2020.  IEA projection that global spending on clean energy will need to increase to $23.9 trillion by 2020 in order to avoid missing climate targets.  “Global investments in clean energy need to double by 2020 to avoid missing climate change targets, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Monday [June 11, 2012], calling on governments to spend more on technologies such as carbon storage and solar power. Some $23.9 trillion in investments are required by 2020 and $140 trillion by the middle of this century [2050], when governments aim to keep the average rise in global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius, the Paris-based organisation said. World nations will have to spend from now to 2050 $36 trillion more than what is currently foreseen, with China having to spend the most. But cash-strapped governments hit by the recession may take comfort in the IEA's assessment that every additional dollar invested in clean energy can generate three dollars in future fuel savings, with total savings offsetting investments by 2025. ‘Let me be straight. Our ongoing failure to realise the full potential of clean energy technology is alarming,’ IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven said in a report. ‘Continued heavy reliance on a narrow set of technologies and fossil fuels is a significant threat to energy security, stable economic growth and global welfare, as well as to the environment,’ she said.” (Michel Rose, “IEA calls for doubling of clean energy spending by 2020, Reuters, Paris, France, Monday, June 11, 2012 reporting findings in International Energy Agency, Energy Technology Perspectives 2012 - Executive Summary, OECD/IEA, Paris, France, June 2012)

2020.  Climate change could cost up to 3% of global GDP by 2020 if effective measures are not taken.  “‘The business and political leaders should realize that measures to bring down emission levels would not cost more than 0.2 per cent of the global GDP, but it could cost up to 3 per cent of world GDP by 2020, and 5 per cent by 2030, if the temperature goes by 2-4 degree Celsius,’ [R K Pachauri] the head of the UN's Nobel Prize-winning scientific panel on climate change said.”  (R K Pachauri, addressing the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland quoted in Manoj Kumar, “Climate change may cost 5 pc global GDP by 2030: Pachauri,” PTI - The Press Trust of India Ltd., January 24, 2008)

2020.  A single storm occurring in 2020 could cause damage losses on the order of $500 billion. 
“To better understand the potential for catastrophic damage from future hurricanes, scientists are looking to the past.  And the future looks very expensive, the scientists said this week at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union. With wealth and property values increasing, and more people moving to vulnerable coasts, by the year 2020 a single storm could cause losses of $500 billion - several times the damage inflicted by Hurricane Katrina.” (Kenneth Chang, “In Study, a History Lesson on the Costs of Hurricanes,” The New York Times, December 11, 2005)

For a more comprehensive compilation of forecasts see climate change costs.

2020.  Increases in ground level ozone caused by higher global warming temperatures could cost the U.S. approximately $5.4 billion in 2020.  “Unchecked global warming could threaten public health and increase health costs by exacerbating ground-level ozone, according to a peer-reviewed report released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  The report, Climate Change and Your Health: Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone Pollution,” found climate change-induced ozone increases could result in 2.8 million additional serious respiratory illnesses, 5,100 additional infants and seniors hospitalized with serious breathing problems, and 944,000 additional missed school days in the United States in 2020.  All told, these and other health-related impacts could cost approximately $5.4 billion [2008 dollars].

And if global warming pollution continues unabated, these impacts and costs could be significantly higher. . . . It would mean more asthma attacks, respiratory illnesses, emergency room trips, and premature deaths.’  Ground-level ozone, the primary component of smog, is generated by chemical reactions between nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) triggered by heat and sunlight. Warmer average temperatures from a changing climate may elevate ozone concentrations in many parts of the country, especially in and around urban areas.  Warmer temperatures also are associated with stagnant air conditions that can cause ozone pollution to settle over an area and remain for extended periods of time.” (“Report Projects Health Impacts and Costs from Worsening Ozone Pollution in a Warming World,” Union of Concerned Scientists press release, June 2, 2011 announcing findings in Elizabeth Martin Perera and Todd Sanford, Climate Change and Your Health:  Rising Temperatures, Worsening Ozone, Union of Concerned Scientists, Cambridge, Massachusetts, June 2011)

State Rankings: Health Care Costs Associated with a Ground Level Ozone Climate Penalty of 2 ppb in 2020*

Population 2020

2020.  World population projected to be 8 billion in 2020.  “Today nearly every country ‘revolutionized’ by the Green Revolution is importing food from the world's half-dozen grain exporters, most notably the U.S.  Yet even the U.S. faces severe problems. Exotic new bugs proliferate. From Texas to Nebraska, water is in short supply and growing shorter. With 400 million acres of farm land, the nation is losing 3 million acres a year to erosion and urban development. Meanwhile, world population keeps rising, and is likely to double to 8 billion by the year 2020.” (Claudia Wallis, Dick Thompson/San Francisco, J. Madeleine Nash/Chicago, “Environment: Tampering with Beans and Genes,” Time Magazine, Monday, October 19, 1981) 

2020.  World population projected by the U.S. Census Bureau to reach 7.6 billion by 2020. 7,592,888,345.  (U.S. Census Bureau, “Total Midyear Population for the World: 1950-2050,” International Database, U.S. Census Bureau, Population Division, 866-758-1060, Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland, February 23, 2011)

2020.  China's population projected to reach 1.38 billion by 2020.  1,384,545.  (U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, Population Division, 866-758-1060, Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland, retrieved Monday, May 30, 2011)

2020.  India’s population projected to reach 1.3 billion by 2020.  1,326,093.  (U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, Population Division, 866-758-1060, Suitland-Silver Hill, Maryland, retrieved Monday, May 30, 2011)

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“[With the emergence of China and India as economic powers] three billion new consumers just walked onto the global economic playing field all with their own version (God Bless them) of the American Dream:  A house, a car, a toaster, a microwave and a refrigerator.” (4)

Thomas L. Friedman
The New York Times

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 Melting Permafrost

2020 – 2030.  Time frame when irreversible climate tipping point is projected to occur due to carbon outgassing from melting permafrost.  “An irreversible climate ‘tipping point’ could occur within the next 20 years [between 2020 and 2030]  as a result of the release of huge quantities of organic carbon locked away as frozen plant matter in the vast permafrost region of the Arctic, scientists have found.  Billions of tons of frozen leaves and roots [containing carbon] that have lain undisturbed for thousands of years in the permanently frozen ground of the northern hemisphere are thawing out, with potentially catastrophic implications for climate change, the researchers said. 

A study into the speed at which the permafrost is melting suggests that the tipping point will occur between 2020 and 2030 and will mark the point at which the Arctic turns from being a net ‘sink’ for carbon dioxide into an overall source that will accelerate global warming, they said. . . . ‘Our research shows that the release of carbon from permafrost will result in an irreversible climate tipping point in only 20 years... Once the frozen carbon thaws out and decays, there is no way to put it back into the permafrost,’ [Dr. Kevin Schaefer of the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado] said.” (Steve Connor, Science Editor, “Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years', The Independent, Monday, May 30, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett. Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x)

Energy Demand | Energy Consumption

Despite energy efficiency trends total energy consumption will rise by about 50%.  “The single most important factor affecting the demand for energy will be global economic growth, particularly that of China and India. Despite the trend toward more efficient energy use, total energy consumed probably will rise by about 50 percent in the next two decades compared to a 34 percent expansion from 1980-2000, with an increasing share provided by petroleum.” (National Intelligence Council - CIA, “Growing Demands for Energy,” Mapping the Global Future - Report of the National Intelligence Council's 2020 Project - Based on Consultations With Non-Governmental Experts Around the World, NIC 200413, U.S. Government Printing Office, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, December 2004, p. 62)

2020.  Global energy demand could be cut by more than 1/2 by 2020 using current energy efficiency technologies.  “But even today, there are sizable opportunities [to abate global warming] . . . that are not being seized, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.  In a new report, the institute, a business-oriented research group that is part of McKinsey & Company consultants, estimated that the yearly growth in worldwide energy demand could be cut by more than half through 2020 — to an annual rate of 0.6 percent from a forecast 2.2 percent, using current technology alone.  Available steps that would yield a more productive, and efficient, use of energy include compact fluorescent lighting, improved insulation on new buildings, reduced standby power requirements and an accelerated push for appliance-efficiency standards [for energy efficient appliances].  All these moves, McKinsey said, would save money for consumers and businesses.”  (Steve Lohr, “The Cost of an Overheated Planet,” The New York Times, December 12, 2006 citing findings in a report by Florian Bressand, Diana Farrell, Pedro Haas, Fabrice Morin, Scott Nyquist, Jaana Remes, Sebastian Roemer, Matt Rogers, Jaeson Rosenfeld, Jonathan Woetzel, “Curbing Global Energy Demand Growth: The Energy Productivity Opportunity,” McKinsey Global Institute, San Francisco, California, May 17, 2007, p. 17)

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“We were really surprised by these huge straightforward [energy efficiency] opportunities that are not being taken.  In some senses, there is a big market failure.” (6)

Diana Farrell, Director
McKinsey Global Institute
Commenting on the failure
of the marketplace to
capitalize on the cost savings
and profit-maximizing opportunities
of implementing energy
efficiency measures.

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2020.  By 2020 the U.S. could reduce its non-transportation related energy consumption by as much as 23 percent if it invests enough political and financial capital. “Management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. released a report today suggesting the U.S. could reduce its non-transportation related energy consumption by as much as 23 percent by 2020 if it invests enough political and financial capital.  The report indicates that reducing energy consumption by 23 percent by 2020 could eliminate more than $1.2 trillion in waste (at a rate of $130 billion annually), which would dramatically exceed the $520 billion investment required, i.e. $50 billion each a year over the next decade, plus program costs that would be required to put such energy efficiencies in place. 

‘If we do nothing we will waste $1.2 trillion of energy,’ said Ken Ostrowski, a senior partner from McKinsey’s Atlanta office. . .  [The] report’s authors caution that these energy savings can only be realized if the United States adopts a comprehensive strategy to overcoming significant barriers. Solutions should include information and education, incentives and financing, codes and standards, and third-party involvement, the report said.  ‘The awareness levels aren’t there today, and that’s one of the barriers we have to overcome,’ Ostrowski said.” (Lisa Sibley, Cleantech Group, “McKinsey says U.S. energy use could be cut 23 percent by 2020,” Cleantech Group, LLC, San Francisco, California, July 29, 2009 citing findings from Hannah Choi Granade, Jon Creyts, Anton Derkach, Philip Farese, Scott Nyquist and Ken Ostrowski, McKinsey & Company, McKinsey Global Energy and Materials, “Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy,”  July 2009, pp. iii, iv, 7, 91)

2020.  U.S. transportation sector projected to generate 89 percent of the growth in petroleum demand through 2020.  “The single most effective energy efficiency policy ever adopted by the federal government is the Corporate Average Fuel Economy requirement (CAFE). Since its adoption in 1975, CAFE has cut U.S. oil consumption by over 1 billion barrels each year. Even with this progress, passenger vehicles today consume approximately 40% of the petroleum in the United States – with the transportation sector projected to generate 89 percent of the growth in petroleum demand through 2020.  And the federal government has not significantly strengthened the CAFE standards in years, further diminishing their effectiveness.”  (Testimony of Dan W. Reicher, Director, Climate Change and Energy Initiatives, Google.org, Before the Senate Finance Committee, February 27, 2007, p. 4)

Food and Agriculture Impacts of Global Warming 

2020.  By 2020 agricultural yields could be reduced by up to 50% in some African countries.  “Agricultural production, including access to food, in many African countries and regions is projected to be severely compromised by climate variability and change. The area suitable for agriculture, the length of growing seasons and yield potential, particularly along the margins of semi-arid and arid areas, are expected to decrease. This would further adversely affect food security and exacerbate malnutrition in the continent. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50% by 2020.”  (M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Summary for Policymakers - Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom, p. 13)

2020.  Populations in lowland Africa may be forced to migrate if agricultural output is cut in half by 2020 as predicted.
  “The scale of the likely population shift [caused by global warming] raises big questions. Will climate-change migrants be recognised? The classic definition of refugees — tossed between states by war or tyranny — is outdated. Eco-migrants will be paperless paupers, whose multiple woes are hard to disentangle. . . . Can the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) expand to cope with eco-migrants? . . . Charles Ehrhart of CARE thinks UNHCR will remain central, but wonders how it or anybody can now distinguish between ‘forced’ and ‘voluntary’ migration.

He says climate change may cut agricultural output by half in lowland Africa by 2020. ‘In such a context, does migration constitute a choice or a necessity?’  Migrants' rights may be easy to assert for islanders whose homes are drowned -- but hard in the case of big, messy movements across Africa and Asia. Most of the displaced will drift to the next-most-liveable place, as the poor do anyway.  ‘Many states are already overwhelmed by internally displaced populations,’ says Mr Ehrhart. ‘Will they be able to support even more people on the move? If not, whose duty is it to make up the difference?’ At the least, the gap between carbon usage and climate change's effects portends angry North-South rows.” How will climate disruption impact Africa?  (“A new (under) class of travellers; Migration and climate change,” The Economist, United States, June 27, 2009)

2020.  Climate change projected to cause China’s per capita grain output to dramatically drop after 2020.  “Climate change and extreme weather events pose a grave challenge to the country's food supply, agricultural researchers have warned.  Gu Lianhong, a senior researcher with Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the US, said the lab's research had shown climate change will cause China's per capita grain output will dramatically drop after 2020, even taking technological progress into consideration. The study suggests the projected geographical pattern of earth's surface temperature will dramatically increase in the late 21st century (2090-2099). This will cause more extreme weather and climate events to impact such industries as agriculture, Gu said. He stressed that increasing droughts and heavy precipitation, more intense tropical cyclones and warmer days will very likely happen globally. ‘These [increasing droughts and heavy precipitation caused climate change] are all closely related with grain output,’ Gu said.”  (Wang Qian, “Climate threatens China's food supply,” Xinhua News Agency, Beijing, China, June 22, 2010)

 2020.  Dartmouth study projects that during the period 2014-2024 the melting of Arctic ice will release into the ocean over 1 trillion bits of plastic which may present a threat to commercially important marine organisms.  “In a study published in the open-access journal Earth’s Future, [Dr. Rachel Obbard, a Dartmouth University professor] and her colleagues write that more than a trillion bits of plastic may be released into the ocean over the next 10 years [2014-2014] as global warming speeds the melting of Arctic ice. . . . Obbard and her colleagues believe that micro-plastics typically land in the ocean in one of three ways: ‘One way is through laundry,’ she says: ‘The lint particles that come off in your washing machine and then get washed out with the water.’ A second type of particles results from fragmentation in the ocean of larger plastic waste such as water bottles and fishing nets. The last major source is probably waste from companies that use small plastic particles to manufacture larger items.  According to the report ‘microplastic fragments . . . are clearly ingested by a wide range of marine organisms including commercially important species,’”  (Business Week 2014, Caroline Winter, “How So Much Plastic Got Into the Frozen Arctic Sea,” Business Week, May 30, 2014 reporting findings in Earth’s Future 2014, Rachel W. Obbard et al, “Global warming releases microplastic legacy frozen in Arctic Sea ice,” Earth’s Future, DOI: 10.1002/2014EF000240, May 20, 2014)

Disease, Global Warming

2020.  Malaria disease transmission risk projected to increase.  “Diseases relayed by mosquitoes—such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and several kinds of encephalitis—are among those eliciting the greatest concern as the world warms. . . . Mosquito-borne disorders are projected to become increasingly prevalent because their insect carriers, or ‘vectors,’ are very sensitive to meteorological conditions. Cold can be a friend to humans, because it limits mosquitoes to seasons and regions where temperatures stay above certain minimums. Winter freezing kills many eggs, larvae and adults outright. Anopheles mosquitoes, which transmit malaria parasites (such as Plasmodium falciparum), cause sustained outbreaks of malaria only where temperatures routinely exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Similarly, Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, responsible for yellow fever and dengue fever, convey virus only where temperatures rarely fall below 50 degrees F. . . . Risk of malaria transmission will have risen in many parts of the world by 2020 (relative to the average risk in the years 1961 to 1990), according to projections assuming a temperature increase of about two degrees Fahrenheit.”  (Paul R. Epstein, “Is Global Warming Harmful to Health?,” Scientific American, August, 2000)  See maps of malaria risk hot spots.

2020.  Lyme disease could spread 100+ miles northward in North America by 2020. Lyme disease.  The northern boundary of tick-borne Lyme disease is limited by cold temperature effects on the tick, Ixodes scapularis. The northern range limit [in North America] for this tick could shift north by 200 km [124 miles] by the 2020s, and 1000 km [620 milles] by the 2080s (based on projections from the CGCM2 and HadCM3 AOGCMs under the SRES A2 emissions scenario) (Ogden et al., 2006).  (Field, C.B., L.D. Mortsch,, M. Brklacich, D.L. Forbes, P. Kovacs, J.A. Patz, S.W. Running and M.J. Scott, 2007: North America. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson, Eds., Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, p. 632View CBC national news broadcast on the spread of ticks and Lyme disease in conjunction with findings published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

Fisheries Global Warming 

2020.  Dartmouth study projects that during the period 2014-2024 the melting of Arctic ice will release into the ocean over 1 trillion bits of plastic which may present a threat to commercially important marine organisms.  “In a study published in the open-access journal Earth’s Future, [Dr. Rachel Obbard, a Dartmouth University professor] and her colleagues write that more than a trillion bits of plastic may be released into the ocean over the next 10 years [2014-2014] as global warming speeds the melting of Arctic ice. . . . Obbard and her colleagues believe that micro-plastics typically land in the ocean in one of three ways: ‘One way is through laundry,’ she says: ‘The lint particles that come off in your washing machine and then get washed out with the water.’ A second type of particles results from fragmentation in the ocean of larger plastic waste such as water bottles and fishing nets. The last major source is probably waste from companies that use small plastic particles to manufacture larger items.  According to the report ‘microplastic fragments . . . are clearly ingested by a wide range of marine organisms including commercially important species,’”  (Business Week 2014, Caroline Winter, “How So Much Plastic Got Into the Frozen Arctic Sea,” Business Week, May 30, 2014 reporting findings in Earth’s Future 2014, Rachel W. Obbard et al, “Global warming releases microplastic legacy frozen in Arctic Sea ice,” Earth’s Future, DOI: 10.1002/2014EF000240, May 20, 2014)

2020.  Habitat for salmon, trout and steelhead fish likely to decrease dramatically as a result of higher greenhouse gas temperatures.  “Increasing air temperatures lead to rising water temperatures, which increase stress on coldwater fish such as trout, salmon, and steelhead.  August average air temperature above 70°F is a threshold above which these fish are severely stressed.  Projected temperatures [in the Pacific Northwest U.S.] for the 2020s and 2040s under a higher [greenhouse gas] emissions scenario suggest that the habitat for these fish is likely to decrease dramatically.” (Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, (eds.). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2009, p. 137)  For map depicting projected impacts see Slide 17 of Washington State Climate Change Impacts Assessment: HB 1303 Key Findings (ppt) - Marketa McGuire Elsner and Jeremy Littell, Presented at the JISAO annual retreat, Seattle, Washington, March 20, 2009.  See also Matua et al. 2009.

Shrinking Habitats for Salmon and Other Coldwater Fish

Ozone Layer Depletion

2020. Antarctic ozone hole will continue to expand through 2020.   “Some existing agreements, even when implemented, will not be able by 2015 to reverse the targeted environmental damage they were designed to address. The Montreal Protocol is on track to restore the stratospheric ozone layer over the next 50 years [2000-2050].  Nevertheless, the seasonal Antarctic ozone hole will expand for the next two decades [2000-2020] — increasing the risk of skin cancer in countries like Australia, Argentina, and Chile—because of the long lag time between emission reductions and atmospheric effects.”   (Global Trends 2015, NIC 2000-02, National Intelligence Council, Washington, DC, December 2000, p. 31)

2020. Stratospheric ozone depletion likely to peak around 2020.  "Depletion of stratospheric ozone by human-made gases such as chlorofluorocarbons has been occurring over recent decades and is likely to peak around 2020. Ambient ground-level ultraviolet irradiation is estimated to have increased consequently by up to 10% at mid-to-high latitudes over the past two decades." Does ozone layer depletion have anything to do with climate change? (A.J. McMichael, et al, "Climate Change and Human Health - Risks and Responses," World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland, 2003, p. 13)

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The big ozone hole on lifeless Mars [carries] a message for the people of Earth. . . . Mars is antiseptic because of a planet-size hole in its ozone layer.  

On Earth, a fraction of an inch of ozone [paper thin at less than 1/8 of an inch in width], a form of oxygen, stands between us and the deadly ultraviolet rays of the sun. (7) 

— Carl Sagan
Astronomer, Astrophysicist
Pulitzer Prize winner

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Other Forecasts and Projections Converging in 2020

 Standard of Living

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‘I don't believe that I will ever retire now.’


— Leslie Lynch, 52, of Glastonbury, Conn.
Depleted her retirement savings
trying to stay afloat after
U.S. economic collapse (10).

 ___________________________________________________

2020 (and for decades to come).  Global retirement crisis projected to force workers to work beyond retirement age, face a declining standard of living and rising poverty rates.  “A global retirement crisis is bearing down on workers of all ages.  Spawned years before the Great Recession and the 2008 financial meltdown, the crisis was significantly worsened by those twin traumas. It will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching.  Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65. Living standards will fall and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II. . . . What is less appreciated is [the] combined ferocity and global scope [of the retirement crisis].  ‘Most countries are not ready to meet what is sure to be one of the defining challenges of the 21st century,’ the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington concludes. . . . Leslie Lynch, 52, of Glastonbury, Conn., had $30,000 in her 401(k) retirement account when she lost her $65,000-a-year job last year at an insurance company.  She'd worked there 28 years.  She's depleted her retirement savings trying to stay afloat.  ‘I don't believe that I will ever retire now,’ she says.” (AP 2013, Paul Wiseman, David Mchugh And Elaine Kurtenbach, “The world braces for retirement crisis,” Associated Press, Washington, DC, December 30, 2013)

2020. 1.4 billion people worldwide projected to be living in slums by 2020 if current trends continue.  “The State of the World’s Slums.  The growth of slums in the last 15 years has been unprecedented. In 1990, there were nearly 715 million slum dwellers in the world. By 2000 – when world leaders set the target of improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 – the slum population had increased to 912 million. Today, there are approximately 998 million slum dwellers in the world. UN-HABITAT estimates that, if current trends continue, the slum population will reach 1.4 billion by 2020. One out of every three city dwellers lives in slum conditions.”  (State of the World’s Cities Report 2006/7, United Nations Human Settlement Programme, Un-Habitat, Earthscan, 2006, p. vi, 14, 20, 22)

Economy 

2020.  By 2020 only 1 in 3 Americans will be a taxpayer.  “The middle aged will, more than ever, tote society's Sisyphean boulder. They will not need to spend as much time and money on so many offspring, but they will increasingly have new dependents—the old. By 2020, it is estimated that only one out of three Americans will be a taxpayer, and that liened group should be more heavily composed of the middle aged.” (No author credited, “Living: Looking to the ZPGeneration,” Time Magazine, Monday, February 28, 1977) 

Medical Care | Healthcare Workforce Shortages

2020.  U.S. public health workforce shortage projected for 2020 unless corrective measures taken.  “While natural disasters, the threat of bioterrorism and other health threats are taking their toll on public health resources, the U.S. is facing a major public health workforce crisis that could impact the health of each and every American unless there is an immediate influx of funding for recruitment and training of public health professionals. The Association of Schools of Public Health (ASPH) released a first of its kind assessment [Confronting the Public Health Care Workforce Crisis] of the crisis which found that more than 250,000 additional public health workers are needed by 2020.  …23 percent of the current [public health] workforce -- almost 110,000 workers -- will become eligible to retire during the next presidential term.  ‘Tackling the health implications of tobacco use, heart disease, obesity and physical inactivity, not to mention the threat of globally spreading infectious diseases, depends entirely on the availability of a well-trained public health workforce,’ said Dr. Linda Rosenstock, dean of the UCLA School of Public Health and chair of the ASPH Workforce Taskforce. "Unless we act now to recruit and train an additional 250,000 public health professionals, we will soon be ill-equipped to identify looming public health crises and respond decisively."”  (“More Than 250,000 Additional Public Health Workers Needed by 2020 to Avert Public Health Crisis,” Health & Medicine Week, March 10, 2008)

2020.  Shortage of nurses in the U.S. projected for 2020.  “Peter Buerhaus of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, Douglas Staiger of Dartmouth University and David Auerbach of the Congressional Budget Office said the demand for registered nurses is expected to continue to grow at 2 percent to 3 percent per year.  The supply of registered nurses is expected to grow very little as large numbers of nurses begin to retire or leave work.  By 2020, the U.S. shortage is estimated to be 285,000 full-time nurses and reach 500,000 by 2025. 

Inadequate nurse staffing in hospitals is associated with reductions in hospital bed capacity, delays in the timeliness of patient care, longer length of stay by patients, interruptions in care delivery processes and increased risk of adverse patient outcomes including mortality, the researchers said in a statement.” (UPI News Service, “Patients should prepare for fewer nurses,” UPI Consumer Health Daily, March 28, 2008 citing findings in Peter I. Buerhaus, Douglas O. Staiger, and David I. Auerbach, The Future of the Nursing Workforce in the United States: Data, Trends, and Implications,” Journal of the American Medical Association, JAMA. 2008;300(16):1950, Vol. 300 No. 16, October 22/29, 2008)

Disease and Health

2020. Cancer rates are projected to increase to more than 20 million worldwide.  “Global cancer rates will increase sharply in the next 20 years as the population grows older and the Third World develops a taste for Western lifestyles, the World Health Organisation (WHO) predicted yesterday.  Aggressive marketing of cigarettes in the developing world was said to be the biggest cause of preventable cancers by the authors of the WHO's World Cancer Report, the most comprehensive global examination of the disease.  ‘The deadly smoking habit is particularly worrying in central and eastern Europe and many developing and newly industrialised countries,’ the report says. . . Global cancer rates are predicted to increase by 50 per cent by 2020, which means that the number of new cases diagnosed in the world each year will rise from about 15 million to more than 20 million.” World Cancer Report 2008.  (Steve Connor, Science Editor, “Cancer rates may rise 50% by 2020 as population ages,” The Independent, London, England, April 4, 2003)

2020 (forecast made in 1997). 
At least 15 million people to develop cancer.  “Cancer deaths will double in many countries and heart disease will soar worldwide in the next 25 years, the World Health Organization predicted in a report being made public today, partly because the United States has helped spread cigarette smoking and a fatty diet around the globe.  The rise in these diseases will be especially troublesome for developing countries already battling infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, the WHO says in its annual report [The World Health Report 1997]. . . . In 2020, the report estimates at least 15 million people will develop cancer, with a doubling of cases in developing countries.” (Shankar Vedantam, Mercury News Washington Bureau, “Heart Disease, Cancer Soaring U.S. Urged To Be Role Model For Healthy Lifestyle,” San Jose Mercury News, San Jose, California, May 5, 1997, p. 4A)

2020.  Number of people in the world suffering from diabetes projected to reach 380 million. 
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA) diabetes is the fastest growing health care crisis of the 21st century.  “Nearly 75 million Americans have diabetes or are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”  “Worldwide over 246 million people have diabetes.  By 2020, that number is expected to rise to 380 million.” (“American Diabetes Month® Brings Awareness to Growing Health Care Crisis,” PR Newswire, American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, Virginia, October 30, 2007)

2020.  45 percent of Americans expected to be obese by 2020 if current trends continue. 
“Smoking rates have dropped 20 percent in the last 15 years. So American life expectancy should be getting a boost, if it weren't for the obesity epidemic. It's filling the gap and then some, according to a study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.  ‘Relative to what's been happening with our improvements with smoking, our increases in Body Mass Index really are offsetting that,’ Dr. Allison Rosen [a University of Michigan internal medicine and health policy expert and a] study co-author, told us.  While smoking rates were dropping overall, obesity rates shot up 48 percent in the last 15 years. If these current trends continue, almost half -- 45 percent -- of Americans are expected to be obese by 2020. And that means the negative effects obesity has on health and life expectancy will surpass any positive effects the decline in smoking might have had.” (Maggie Mertens, “Obesity Epidemic Cancels Out Anti-Smoking Gains,” NPR Blogs, Wednesday, December 2, 2009 citing Susan T. Stewart, Ph.D., David M. Cutler, Ph.D., and Allison B. Rosen, M.D., Sc.D., “Forecasting the Effects of Obesity and Smoking on U.S. Life Expectancy,” The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 361:2252-2260, Number 23, December 3, 2009)

2020.  Road accidents, depression and heart disease predicted to be the leading causes of mortality and disability due to aging of the global population.  “Due to an aging global population, as well as to economic and social advancement, there will be major changes ahead. By 2020, the three leading causes of mortality and disability are likely to be heart disease, depression and road accidents -- unless there are new and unpleasant surprises from the spread of communicable diseases.” (Gro Harlem Brundtland, “Globalization of disease - Major changes are ahead as the world's population ages,” The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, August 8, 1999, p. B15)

Extinctions 

2020.  20% or more of plant and animal species projected to face extinction by 2020 unless actions taken.  “There have been five periods of mass extinction on Earth, the last being the dinosaurs. The sixth is happening now, in which a fifth or more species of plants and animals could vanish or be doomed to early extinction by 2020 unless better efforts are made to save them.” Global warming not cited as cause. (Roger Leo, Telegram & Gazette Staff, “Mass, Endangered Species, Animals, Birds, Flowers & Plants,” Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Worcester Massachusetts, 508-793-9100, March 21, 1999, p. A1)

Energy Infrastructure 

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(1) Carl Sagan quoted in “Sagan Says Fossil-Fuel Use May Turn Earth Into A Venus,” The Deseret News, Salt Lake City, Utah, September 16, 1990, p. B4
(2) Joe Grindstaff, general manager of the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, Riverside, California, speaking at the Rose Institute at Claremont College in Claremont, California” quoted in Kathleen Sweeney, Staff Writer, “State Plans For Projected Water Shortages,” Daily News, Woodland Hills, California, January 27, 2002
(3) “Kilimanjaro snows melting faster,” The Hindustan Times, February 15, 2006
(4) Thomas L. Friedman, "Green is the New Red White and Blue," and "Energy Crossroads: Building a Coalition for a Clean, Prosperous, and Secure Energy Future," Keynote Address at Memorial Auditorium, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California, Friday, March 2, 2007
(5) Mona Sahlin, Minister for Sustainable Development quoted in John Vidal, environment editor, “Sweden plans to be world's first oil-free economy,” The Guardian, London, England, United Kingdom, Wednesday, February 8, 2006. 
(6) Steve Lohr, “The Cost of an Overheated Planet,” The New York Times, December 12, 2006 citing findings reported in Florian Bressand, Diana Farrell, Pedro Haas, Fabrice Morin, Scott Nyquist, Jaana Remes, Sebastian Roemer, Matt Rogers, Jaeson Rosenfeld, Jonathan Woetzel, Curbing Global Energy Demand Growth: The Energy Productivity Opportunity,” McKinsey Global Institute, San Francisco, California, May 17, 2007, p. 17
(7) Carl Sagan quoted in Greg Edwards, Staff Writer, “A Mars Lesson For Planet Earth,” The Roanoke Times, Roanoke, Virginia, October 24, 1990, p. B3
(8) “Lake Mead Could Be Dry by 2021,” news release, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, Tuesday, February 12, 2008 reporting findings in Tim P. Barnett and David W. Pierce, "When will Lake Mead go dry?," Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, California, Journal of Water Resources Research, January 23, 2008
(9) Steve Connor, Science Editor, “Melting of the Arctic 'will accelerate climate change within 20 years', The Independent, Monday, May 30, 2011 reporting findings in Kevin Schaefer, Tingjun Zhang, Lori Bruhwiler, Andrew P. Barrett. Amount and timing of permafrost carbon release in response to climate warming, Tellus B, 2011; DOI: 10.1111/j.1600-0889.2011.00527.x
(10) AP 2013, Paul Wiseman, David Mchugh And Elaine Kurtenbach, “The world braces for retirement crisis,” Associated Press, Washington, DC, December 30, 2013

 
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Climate Change 2020 - Global Warming 2020