We present two possible futures in The Future We Choose: one in which we act to reduce emissions by half this decade, and one in which we fail, as depicted in the excerpt below.
Depending on the time of day, many locations throughout the world have hot, heavy air that is clogged with particle pollution. Your eyes well up with tears on a regular basis. Your cough doesn’t appear to be getting any better. You can’t simply go out your front door and take a deep breath of fresh air. Instead, you check your phone first thing in the morning before opening doors or windows to see how the air quality is. Everything may appear to be in order—sunny and clear—but you are well aware that this is not the case. The resultant air pollution and high surface ozone levels can make walking outside dangerous without a properly designed face mask when storms and heat waves overlap and cluster (which only some can afford).
Huge swathes of the earth will become more hostile to people in the next five to ten years. For many years, oceans, forests, plants, trees, and soil had absorbed half of the carbon dioxide humans emitted. There are now just a few forests left, the most of which have been logged or have been destroyed by wildfire. Extreme hurricanes and tropical storms have increased due to more moisture in the air and higher sea surface temperatures.
Extreme hurricanes and tropical storms have increased due to more moisture in the air and higher sea surface temperatures. Coastal communities in Bangladesh, Mexico, the United States, and elsewhere have been devastated by severe flooding and infrastructure loss. Melting permafrost is unleashing ancient microorganisms that have never been seen by modern people. Mosquito and tick-borne diseases are on the rise as these species thrive in the changing environment.