Articles Climate Change

We need these technologies now more than ever

One of the driving principles behind the creation of RChain is to create social coordination technologies to help humans stay in contact with one another as the painful realities of climate change set in. This will be especially pertinent to coastal cities, which are in the most danger of evacuation.

It’s hard to imagine Miami becoming Atlantis, but that’s exactly what researchers are predicting. We saw a big hint when downtown Miami flooded as Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in 2017.

As the New Yorker reports, the city’s barriers are disappearing:

Along the shoreline, freshwater marshes, which act as natural coastal buffers against storm surge, are collapsing because of increased salt-water intrusion. Once those grasses are gone, storm waters will flood Miami much more quickly.

And, of course, there’s New York City. I moved away less than a year before Hurricane Sandy left downtown in shambles. I was downtown on 9/11 and will never forget the 2003 blackout; I’ll always remember the tornado that tore through Brooklyn, leveling trees on my block. Yet this was something altogether different:

The notion that our great cities might be engulfed by ocean challenges our expectations of reality, yet it is a future we are collectively facing—perhaps many more of us than previously expected. As Fast Company reports,

By the end of the century, around 13 million Americans may be displaced by sea level rise alone; globally, that number may be around 2 billion.

By 2100, the article suggests, 90 percent of Miami could be in the “chronic inundation” zone, meaning it floods twenty-six times every year. Even more urgently, 60 percent of the city will likely be in that zone by 2060.

Flooding is not the only issue. This deep dive is dizzying:

In Seattle, where most people don’t have air conditioning, there was a record-breaking heat wave in 2017 and again in 2018. In Madison, Wisconsin, record rainfall, a problem that is also linked to climate change, caused widespread flooding in August 2018. In Maine, as the ocean warms and acidifies, fisheries and the lobster industry could collapse. In Canada, a heat wave in Quebec in July 2018 was linked to more than 90 deaths. San Francisco hit a record 106 degrees in September and then in November went through 13 days of dangerous air quality as smoke from the Camp Fire blew into the area. As many as 13,000 properties in the Bay Area are at risk of chronic flooding by 2045.

A few hundred miles north of me the Camp Fire devastated an entire region in mere hours. While I escaped the fury of the Malibu fires, a change in the offshore breeze one afternoon left my entire apartment engulfed in smoke even though the epicenter was thirty miles north. Everyone in my neighborhood was sniffling and coughing for a week.

That’s obviously nothing compared to those whose homes were ravaged and destroyed. Yet it was a reminder about the interconnectivity of the environment. There is no escape from this issue, even though, as the Fast Company article suggests, there is a “climate gentrification” movement occurring. Sadly, some of the biggest agents of carbon emission release are run by the wealthy who can afford to escape—to a degree. The rural and poor are going to be hit hardest around the planet.

This is no way to live. Most of us will not live to witness the worst effects of climate change; we’re just being served appetizers. To think that we’d leave the planet in such a state is tragic, however.

There is a lot of necessary talk in the blockchain space about “how” we’re going to create these technologies. But we can’t forget the “why.” Pulling back to look at the bigger picture, that’s all that really matters. If we lose the why, how won’t matter to anyone.