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Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Great Migration of Humanity Is Coming

If there ever were a MegaTrend, the coming great migration of humanity away from the tropics has to be counted as number one. The reason? Global Warming, of course.

Although the polar regions are warming twice as fast as the tropics, the effects upon humanity are being felt in the tropics more. And, the climate in the tropics will affect 5½ billion humans, as Tropics first region on globe to hit a new climate era research finds:

Upwards of 5 billion people in the tropics will soon find temperature and other weather conditions falling outside anything experienced in modern record-keeping, according to a groundbreaking study published Wednesday.

The study, by a team of University of Hawaii researchers led by professor Camilo Mora, is the first to map the timing of "climate departures" — when a particular region's climate conditions escape the bounds recorded over the past 140-odd years by modern instruments.

Among the team's surprising findings: The tropics will depart first, even though all climate models and data show the Arctic is warming fastest. And the transformation, underway now, will happen very quickly.

"We didn't anticipate that these timings were going to be that early," Mora said in an interview.

"The tropics are going to be the most vulnerable," he added. "The reason for that? They're adapted to the narrowest range."

The finding, experts note, also has broad ramifications for wildlife and biodiversity. The study was published by the journal Nature.

The Mora lab's analysis shows that 1 billion people will find their local climate outside historic norms starting as early as 2020, even if stringent emissions curbs are in place. Without curbs, some 5.5 billion people worldwide will find their homes outside climate norms within 50 years.

Plot those findings against economic data, Mora said, and the situation grows dire: The regions facing the impacts first — southeast Asia, much of sub-Sahara Africa — have the least economic ability to respond.

Stuart Pimm, professor of conservation ecology at Duke University, called the findings astonishing and turned to Shakespeare's famous line in The Tempest for perspective.

"What's past is no longer prologue," he said. "We are outside of our experience."