This not-so-positive prediction will focus on Canadian and Australian geopolitics as it relates to climate change between the years 2040 and 2050. As you read on, you’ll see a Canada that’s disproportionately benefited by a warming climate. But you’ll also see an Australia that’s taken to the edge, transforming into a desert wasteland while it desperately builds the world’s greenest infrastructure to survive.
But before we begin, let’s be clear on a few things. This snapshot—this geopolitical future of Canada and Australia—wasn’t pulled out of thin air. Everything you’re about to read is based on the work of publicly available government forecasts from both the United States and United Kingdom, a series of private and government-affiliated think tanks, as well as the work of journalists like Gwynne Dyer, a leading writer in this field. Links to most of the sources used are listed at the end.
On top of that, this snapshot is also based on the following assumptions:
Worldwide government investments to sizably limit or reverse climate change will remain moderate to non-existent.
No attempt at planetary geoengineering is undertaken.
The sun’s solar activity does not fall below its current state, thereby reducing global temperatures.
No significant breakthroughs are invented in fusion energy, and no large-scale investments are made globally into national desalination and vertical farming infrastructure.
By 2040, climate change will have progressed to a stage where greenhouse gas (GHG) concentrations in the atmosphere exceed 450 parts per million.
You read our intro to climate change and the not-so-nice effects it‘ll have on our drinking water, agriculture, coastal cities, and plant and animal species if no action is taken against it.
With these assumptions in mind, please read the following forecast with an open mind.
Everything’s rosy under America’s shadow
By the late 2040s, Canada will remain one of the world’s few stable democracies and will continue to benefit from a moderately growing economy. The reason behind this relative stability is due to its geography, as Canada will largely benefit from the early extremes of climate change in a variety of ways.
Given its vast deposits of freshwater (especially in the Great Lakes), Canada will not see any water shortages on the scale to be seen in the rest of the world. In fact, Canada will be a net exporter of water to its increasingly arid southern neighbours. Moreover, certain parts of Canada (especially Quebec) will see increased rainfall, which will, in turn, promote greater farm harvests.
Canada is already considered one of the world's top exporters of agricultural products, especially in wheat and other grains. In the world of the 2040s, extended and warmer growing seasons will make Canada's agricultural leadership second only to Russia. Unfortunately, with the agricultural collapse felt in many parts of the southern United States (US), the vast majority of Canada's food surplus will head south instead of to the broader international markets. This sales concentration will limit the geopolitical influence Canada would otherwise gain if it sold more of its agri-surplus overseas.
Ironically, even with the country's food surplus, most Canadians will still see moderate inflation in food prices. Canadian farmers will simply make far more money selling their harvests to American markets.
From an economic perspective, the 2040s may see the world enter into a decade-long recession as climate change raises prices on basic goods internationally, squeezing consumer spending. In spite of this, Canada's economy will continue to expand in this scenario. US demand for Canadian commodities (especially agricultural products) will be at an all-time high, allowing Canada to recover from the financial losses suffered after the collapse of the oil markets (due to growth in EVs, renewables, etc.).
Meanwhile, unlike the US, which will see waves of impoverished climate refugees pouring across its southern border from Mexico and Central America, straining its social services, Canada will see waves of highly educated and high net worth Americans immigrating north across its border, as well as Europeans and Asians immigrating from overseas. For Canada, this foreign-born population bump will mean a reduced shortage of skilled labor, a fully re-funded social security system, and increased investment and entrepreneurship across its economy.
Mad Max land
Australia is basically Canada’s twin. It shares the Great White North’s affinity for friendliness and beer but differs with its surplus of heat, crocodiles, and vacation days. The two countries are amazingly similar in many other ways, but the late 2040s will see them veering off into two very different paths.
Unlike Canada, Australia is one of the world’s hottest and driest countries. By the late 2040s, most of its fertile farming land along the southern coast will rot away under warming conditions of between four and eight degrees Celsius. Even with Australia's surplus of freshwater deposits in underground reservoirs, the extreme heat will stop the germination cycle for many Australian crops. (Remember: We’ve domesticated modern crops for decades and, as a result, they can only germinate and grow when the temperature is just “Goldilocks right.” This danger is present for many Australian staple crops as well, especially wheat)
As a side note, it should be mentioned that Australia’s Southeast Asian neighbors will also be reeling from similar bouts of dwindling farm harvests. This may result in Australia finding itself hard-pressed to buy enough food surpluses on the open market to make up for its domestic farming shortfalls.
Not only that, it takes 13 pounds (5.9 kilos) of grain and 2,500 gallons (9,463 liters) of water to produce a single pound of beef. As harvests fail, there will be a severe cutback on most forms of meat consumption in the country—a big deal since Aussies like their beef. In fact, any grain that can still be grown will likely be restricted to human consumption instead of feeding farm animals. The chronic food rationing that will arise will lead to substantial civil unrest, weakening the power of Australia’s central government.
Australia’s desperate situation will force it to become extremely innovative in the fields of power generation and food cultivation. By the 2040s, climate change’s severe effects will put environmental issues at the front and center of government agendas. Climate change deniers will no longer have a place in government (which is a stark difference from today’s Aussie political system).
With Australia’s surplus of sun and heat, wide-scale solar power installations will be built in pockets well across the country’s deserts. These solar power plants will then supply electricity to a large number of power-hungry desalination plants, which will, in turn, feed large amounts of freshwater to the cities and to massive, Japanese-designed indoor vertical and underground farms. If built in time, these large-scale investments can head off the worst effects of climate change, leaving Australians to adapt to a climate akin to a Mad Max movie.
One of the saddest parts of Australia’s future plight will be it’s the massive loss of plant and animal life. It will simply become too hot for most plants and mammal species to live out in the open. Meanwhile, the warming oceans will heavily shrink, if not completely destroy, the Great Barrier Reef—a tragedy for all mankind.
Reasons for hope
Well, first, what you just read is a prediction, not a fact. Also, it’s a prediction that’s written in 2015. A lot can and will happen between now and the late 2040s to address the effects of climate change, much of which will be outlined in the series conclusion. And most important, the predictions outlined above are largely preventable using today’s technology and today’s generation.
To learn more about how climate change may affect other regions of the world or to learn about what can be done to slow and eventually reverse climate change, read our series on climate change via the links below:
WWIII Climate Wars series links
WWIII CLIMATE WARS: NARRATIVES
Southeast Asia, Drowning in your Past: WWIII Climate Wars P9
South America, Revolution: WWIII Climate Wars P11