New countries

There is an alarmist article by Gaia Vince in the latest issue of New Scientist, called “Surviving in a warmer world”.

Its basic message is that a global rise in temperatures of just 4 degrees would lead to most current subtropical and tropical areas becoming vast deserts, leading to most people being moved to claustrophobic cities in the far north:

If we allow 20 square metres of space per person — more than double the minimum habitable space allowed per person under English planning regulation — 9 million people would need 18,000 square kilometres of land to live on. The area of Canada alone is 9.1 million square kilometres and, combined with all the other high-latitude areas, such as Alaska, Britain, Russian and Scandinavia, there should be plenty of room for everyone, even with the effects of sea-level rise.

These precious lands with access to water would be valuable food-growing areas, as well as the last oases for many species, so people would need to be housed in compact, high-rise cities. Living this closely together will bring problems of its own. Disease could easily spread through the crowded population so early warning systems will be needed to monitor any outbreaks.

Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Anyway, given that I’m not a climate scientist, I can’t really tell how likely this scenario is.

But one thing I must comment on:

In order to survive, humans may need to do something radical: rethink our society not along geopolitical lines but in terms of resource distribution. […] “We need to look at the world afresh and see it in terms of where the resources are, and then plan the population, food and energy production around that.”

I think they basically have some kind of planned redivision in mind, with the UN tearing down countries and creating new ones.

That is never going to happen.

If some smallish countries were lost to the sea, I guess the UN would be able to convince most countries to take their share of refugees, although most of them would be bound to end up in camps in neighbouring countries.

Alternatively, I guess some countries could try to buy new land. E.g., if Bangladesh were about to be submerged, I guess Russia might sell it a small chunk of Siberia.

I’m not convinced, though. 150 million Bangladeshis within Russia would lead to huge geopolitical change, and I’m doubtful Russia would agree to that willingly.

So I think reality would be a mixture: Some rich groups of people, or even countries, might buy new homelands in Canada or Siberia. Some peoples would be scattered across the world. And millions upon millions of people would lead hopeless lives in refugee camps.

Not neat, but much more realistic than the ultra-rational dystopia imagined by New Scientist.

A restaurant to avoid

La Tasca
Originally uploaded by Dominic’s pics

With Marcel away on a school-trip to Castle Toward, we thought that Charlotte needed a bit of fun, too, so we all went to La Tasca in Silverburn. I had already been to the La Tasca in town with work, and that was fine, so we were all looking forward to it.

When we arrived, we noticed that they had an offer called Tapas for a tenner – tapas ad libitum for £10 per person. It said everybody at the table had to join in, but when questioned, they said it was fine for the kids to have kiddie menus.

So we ordered two of the tenner menus, and three kiddie ones at £4 each. They said the adults could order four tapas each, with the option to order more later, and the kids could choose two each from their menu.

The drinks (tiny ones for the kids, but then they were included in the price) arrived quickly, as did six slices of slightly stale baguette.

But then we waited and waited. All drinks were long gone, and we spent ages taking turns to take the kids to the toilet on the second floor.

Finally, the food arrived. Ours were fine, but the kiddie ones were miniscule – not nearly big enough for a one-year-old, far too little for a three-year old, and about 1/20 of what a nine-year-old would eat.

So of course we had to share ours with the kids, and we needed more food.

The restaurant was now very full, and it took ages before the waitress got to our table again. She started to clear the table and ask whether whether we wanted tea or coffee, before we managed to make her understand that we wanted more tapas. She took our orders and disappeared.

The second batch of tapas arrived at 8.15 – more than two hours after we arrived!

But then we had all built up huge appetites, and we quickly realised we should have ordered many more, but with those waiting times we decided to go home and eat some soup and toast.

Fortunately our kids behaved well – most kids wouldn’t have stayed quiet in a boring restaurant for more than two hours with almost no food to eat.

Also, Phyllis noticed that the table behind were served so late that their second orders would be taken after the cut-off point for the tapas for a tenner availability. When they asked the waitress, she said she didn’t know what would happen!!!

Needless to say, we didn’t tip. Strangely, though, the waitress queried Phyllis why. When she was told the service was far too slow, she replied there had been a rush of people, and there was nothing they could do – as if it’s not up to the restaurant how many people to employ!

Although the food actually was nice, I must advice everybody to stay away from La Tasca, but especially families with kids. It’s a complete disaster!