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Will Japan be around in the year 2500?

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By Danny Bloom

Two recent newspaper articles about climate change in the far distant future, say 2500 or so, (titled, respectively, “How much more proof is needed for people to act?” and “Ignoring the future — the psychology of denial”) emphasized the importance of facing major issues that will have an impact on the future of the human species.

Climate change is indeed an issue and the Japanese people will also be on the front lines of the battle. Why? Because Japan will not exist as a country by the year 2500. Everyone there will have migrated north to Russia and Alaska.

Despite most observers’ belief that solutions lie in mitigation, there are a growing number of climatologists and scientists who believe that the A-word — adaptation — must be confronted head-on, too. The fact is — despite the head-in-the-sand protestations of denialists like former Alaskan Gov Sarah Palin in the U.S. — that we cannot stop climate change or global warming. The Earth’s atmosphere has already passed the tipping point, and in the next 500 years, temperatures and sea levels will rise considerably and millions, even billions, of people from the tropical and temperate zones will be forced to migrate in search of food, fuel and shelter.

By the year 2500, all the islands of Japan will be largely uninhabited, except for a few stragglers eking out a subsistence life in Hokkaido's mountains. The rest of the population will have migrated north to Russia’s northern coast or northern parts of Alaska and Canada to find safe harbor from the devastating impact of global warming.

Okay, how do I know all this, you ask? I don't know. I am just saying that we all must be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

By the year 2500, most likely, Japanese people en masse will have left the country for faraway northern regions to find shelter in U.N.-funded climate refuges in places such as Russia, Canada and Alaska. Israeli climate refugees will join millions of others from India, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. It won’t be a pretty picture.

When I asked a professor at National Taiwan University in Taipei if this was a possible future scenario for Japan and other nations in Asia some 500 years from now, he said it was very possible, and that these issues needed to be addressed now, if only as a thought exercise, and even if it all sounded like a science fiction movie script. When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if such a scenario for Japan was likely, he said to me in an e-mail: “It may very well happen, yes.”

We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered theories on how to do it. There are no easy fixes. Humankind has pumped too many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, the result of the industrial revolution that gave us trains, planes, automobiles and much more, enabling us to live comfortable and trendy lives — and now there is so much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that the Earth cannot recover.

Japan, like the rest of the world, is doomed to a bleak future full of billions of climate refugees seeking shelter in the far north, and in places like New Zealand, Tasmania and Antarctica in the far south.

Meetings in Copenhagen and Rio de Janeiro and at the U.N. in New York will not stop global warming. What we need to focus on now is preparing future generations for what our world will become in the next 500 years and how best to survive it.

For the next 100 to 200 years or so, life will go on as normal in the Japanese archipelago in terms of climate change and global warming issues. There is nothing to worry about now. But in the next 500 years, according to Lovelock and other scientists who are not afraid to think outside the box and push the envelope, things are going to get bad. Unspeakably bad.

Those of us who are alive today won’t suffer, and the next few generations will be fine, too. The big trouble will probably start around 2200 — and last for some 300 years or so.

By 2500, the nation of Japan will be history, as will all the nations of Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.

We are entering uncharted waters, and as the waters rise and the temperatures go up, future generations will have some important choices to make: where to live, how to live, how to grow food, how to power their climate refugee settlements, how to plan and how to pray.

Danny Bloom is a writer based in Taiwan where he blogs daily about climate change and global warming at his "Northwardho" blog.

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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I saw a similar article on this very subject date, oh, 500 years ago.

“Northwardho”

(cough) Such language.

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When I asked acclaimed British scientist James Lovelock if such a scenario for Japan was likely, he said to me in an e-mail: “It may very well happen, yes.”

I wonder what came next in this e-mail. I'm sure I'll never know, but I'd bet it began with "but".

Anyway, maybe he'll be right. But Japan is a very mountainous country and the sea would have to rise an unbelievable amount to do more than make Japan a string of lots of smaller islands. Yes, people would have to leave much of the lower-lying land, but as the birthrate is dwindling maybe even that won't be necessary.

My home country is sinking slowly anyway, the south of Britain is gradually disappearing into the sea. Add a couple of metres of rising seas and potentially more than half the country could sink. I wouldn't be surprised if that was in the e-mail too.

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OK, here's some thinking outside the box. Imagine in 500 years everyone has realized that mainstream science has gone the way of mainstream politics, consensus and poll driven, 'deniers' shunned from polite society. But imagine if that consensus was wrong? Of course nobody can say it is or isn't but such a dramatic worst-case scenario demands thinking outside the box.

What if the 'scientific community' doesn't know everything with 100% certainty? What if the earth isn't horribly hotter, what if it's somewhat the same, or horribly cooler? What if - gasp! - mass-media reporters and a handful of scientists are wrong?

More to the point, is there any content in this article? Or is it "hey, if Japan is uninhabitable in 500 years - how, I dunno, but if it is - life will be different, ne? And while I'm at it, I'll put the prediction so far in the future to have no chance of anyone pointing out I am incorrect?" Why not talk about the climate in 52,732? I'm sure there are long range models for that, too.

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We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming, although scientists who believe in geo-engineering have offered theories on how to do it. There are no easy fixes.

So the author is saying "There is no way to do it, but there are theories about how to do it". Ridiculous!

The level of technological development achievable by human beings is by far the greatest unknown variable when making predictions on a scale of 500 years, and after all, necessity has and always will be the mother of invention.

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To suggest that most of the country will migrate to Alaska or Russia is preposterous. We have airplanes and ships that can take people anywhere in the world. They make it sound as if people will just go to the nearest place, in which case why didn't they mention Korea?

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I don`t think this author is any kind of scientist or expert, more of an activist it seems.

But my instant reaction to the title was 2500???! Japan will be long gone way before then and it`ll have nothing to do with climate change...

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I'm more worried about Indo-Pak relations after reading that Scientific American article about the potential fallout of a nuclear war...

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Okay, how do I know all this, you ask? I don’t know. I am just saying that we all must be prepared for the worst-case scenario.

See italicized portion. What an incredibly stupid article.

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i, for one, couldn't care less as i have at max, 50 years left here.

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Wrong, wrong, wrong. This article is so full of errors, based principally on its ludicrous premise of climate change taking place over a 500-year period. The author says that Japan has nothing to worry about for the next 100 to 200 years - wrong. Climate change is happening now, and to take the author's principal example, mass migration is happening now, and will most likely increase enormously over the next thirty to forty years. James Lovelock has said very little about the prospect for 2500; what he has said is that 80% of the human population could die out by 2100. That is change we, and our children and grandchildren could see, not some fantasy of a distant future.

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climate change is an undeniable fact. 500 years later there will be very little recognisable of anything I'd imagine, not much we can do about that.

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"not much we can do about that"

Then why all this CO2 emissions cutting?

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Just one easy question.

Why take the chance?

Think about it people. If there is a chance that we are warming the planet, then why not take steps to reduce our impact?

Look at it this way.

Money: Some say the impact of taking precautions will harm business. Well I say you are not forward thinking and should not be in business anyway if that is your thinking. Why? Because there are massive opportunities to be had in making sustainable products and in services to reduce environmental impact. Not to mention the whole world of alternative fuel and energy development.

An ounce of precaution: Didn't your parents teach you that a small effort of prevention will save you a large effort of problem solving later? It is cheaper, easier and better common sense thinking to take precautions. So instead of pointing fingers at each other, why not work to make the planet safer just in case?

What if you are wrong? If you deny climate change and you are wrong then what? History shows us again and again that humans like to follow what they believe is right and not necessarily what it right. Would it kill you to try to take this seriously and live a little better with less impact? What would it hurt? And think about the benefits for the environment beyond the whole warming topic. Not to mention just being a better custodian of the planet.

What if you are right? Well, you can dance around and say "I told you so" in a safer, cleaner and more sustainable world. Now doesn't that sound good?

Basic point! This is too risky a topic to sit around debating when we should just use good judgement and decide to take better care of the world no matter what the warming risks are. It makes sense for business, for consumers and for our kids if we do this. So stop this childish bickering and get on with taking better care of the planet!!!!!!

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sarge, 500 years in the future everything will be different. nothing we can do will change that. has nothing to do with Co2 emissions.

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We'll either overcome or kill ourselves off in vast numbers. Between now and then we get to choose a side: trying to do good for our environment and take care of the place we live or not give a care and trash everything. The whole global warming argument is a secondary point, whether it be true or not I don't care. What I do know is the excess garbage I see every day is horrible, huge trucks using way more than they need, people way overweight and eating way too much, living in spaces they don't need, and etc. (sorry, my observations from my home in the states)

I dislike these articles. People spreading doom and gloom is not going to fix the problem, do what you need and should do day to day and maybe influence someone along the way, it's the only way things will change. I guess doom and gloom is one way of doing it, but I always heard being positive has a far better implications. :)

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isn't the world supposed to end in 2012? so, no worries!

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The Japanese war machine will rumble again and invade Australia and take the whole country and rename it Japan.

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We humans cannot engineer our way out of global warming

What a load of rot. Obviously written by someone with no background in science or engineering. If you look at the scientific progress made over the last 50-100 years, it's not difficult to extrapolate out 100 years and understand that we can engineer our way out of it. More likely, global warming will reverse itself and end at the sun's whim, just as the mini-Ice Age (1600-1850) ended on its own, long before the big bad SUV was invented.

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Japan will be ok. Not so sure about the rest of the world.

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The Japanese war machine will rumble again and invade Australia and take the whole country and rename it Japan.

haha thats pretty funny...more realistic would be japan tries to invade australia, gets crushed (again), and the victorious Aussies rename the japanese islands

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This article is the greatest load of nonsense I have read for a long time. First of all, "Global Warming" is a myth. Climate change there is, as there has always been, but it has nothing to do with human beings. I am sick to the teeth of stupid articles like this. Plain scaremongering, without any scientific basis whatsoever.

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Bebert, couldn't agree more. Technology to extract CO2 from the air is already being developed. This author has basically assumed no technical advances, that humanity will simply stare at climate change like a deer in the headlights and the worst of the climate predictions come true, no unknown negative feedback mechanisms will kick in and potential effects like the full or partial shutting down of the ocean 'conveyor belts' such as the gulf stream - which would likely cause massive cooling rather than warming - don't occur.

Got to love the way he adds 'probably', 'most likely' to his statements when the guy evidently has not the faintest idea what he's talking about. Nonsense like is this just one mroe reason why more people should listen directly to what the scientists have to say on the matter instead of taking 2nd or 3rd hand info from often ill-informed pundits and bloggers.

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Well, I guess I better enjoy life while it lasts.

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"Japan will be ok. Not so sure about the rest of the world"

Ha ha, what makes you think Japan will be OK and the rest of the world might not be?

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Haha! so tired of reading till the end of the postings. There is huge doubt that Japanese will exist as a nation or may be as Ainu like tribal at the time around 2500 let alone thinking mass migration. If the current negative growth rate of population continues it's population will be about 80 million by 2050, by 2100 will be less than 40 million, by 2150...? It's pretty dreadful to imagine a country with lots of gray hair and rarely young folks at that dangerous time. A movie would be great regarding this issue! The symptoms are already in visible condition where about 16% population is above 65 currently.

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After reading this, I jumped into my time machine to take a peek at the year 2500, and not only is Japan still around, they've got a slew of off-world colonies! Not as many as the Chinese or the U.S. though.

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What a bunch of over blown climate fear mongering. Is the sea going to rise above Mt Fuji, me thinks not. The climate cult members are just as dumb as the far right nutters waiting around for the book of revelations to come true.

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Oh, and the author has managed to support my point that carbon targets are a pointless assault on the economy.

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Someone has heard a little too much from Al Gore. There are many sources that show that it is also a naturally occurring phenomenon. Also, speaking of CO2 emissions, you know what really produces those gasses well? Living creatures. That's right, you, me and Pooch. We beat out factories by a long shot.

What's happening is going to happen no matter what we do. It's the cycle of Earth. Stop pointing fingers and maybe we can develop technology to cope with it as we have for millenia!

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Icewind007,

yup, living creatures breath in oxygen and exhale CO2 - and then plants absorb the CO2 and produce oxygen. It's a closed cycle, in balance.

Then we dig up petrochemicals, burn them - thus producing lots more CO2 - the system is no longer in balance, which is the problem.

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Yes, it will be. But we can only guess how it will be. Since this is an exercise of guessing, IMO Japan will be a huge UV-blocked tent, given what is happening to nature nowadays. Well, not only Japan, but all other countries too.

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Nature is a fascinating thing. we humans have no control over it whatsoever, no matter how much meat we eat or gas we consume. Japan as a country may or may not exist in the future, but the fact that the Japanese race is racing towards extinction isn a fact.

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The guy is brilliant.

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No worries people the doctor likes us to much to let our kind die. On Christmas next year the world will be in danger and he will come in his tardis and save us...

JK! No,no now really this is pretty scary stuff. Sure we did it and all but, didn't Shinra Eletric Company do so much damage that it just about destroyed the world...well the world mends itself...I am such a nerd. XD

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Will Japan be around in the year 2500?

Few, if any, of the issues we all think so important in 2010 will impact whatever the mass of humanity is in 2500.

People will either learn to cooperate much better along many lines as this century progresses, let alone the next few following ones, or they're may not be much of a world left anyway.

I'd just like to believe there will be a half-way decent one for us to live in for the foreseeable future.

We shall see.

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Why worry about something that none of us will around to worry about.

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Minus any geographic changes, by 2500 Japan will most definitely be an island province of China.

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