Illustrations by Kurt McRobert
Photo-illustrations by Rich Petrucci
You’re the kind of person who likes his boardwalks above water. You don’t have allergies. You like winter. You want your champagne to come from the Champagne region of France—not some unromantic corner of England hundreds of miles to the north. You like cherry pie. You like oysters. You eat fish. You don’t eat jellyfish. You’re the kind of person, then, who needs the Matter handbook to a burning planet, a compendium of real scientific findings that look at how the globe may change over the next fifty years and beyond. Think of it as your guide to the good life before climate change melts it away.
Was it a bad idea to name a national park after a tree that can’t handle the heat? In retrospect, yes. The Joshua trees of Joshua Tree National Park need periods of cold temperatures before they can flower. Young trees are now rare in the park. Older trees are beginning to sag. Suggested rebranding for 2065: “Death Valley Annex.”
Um, this is awkward to talk about, but the coming decades promise a stunning expansion of America’s “kidney stone belt,” a band of southerly states where the prevalence of dehydration—and thus kidney stones—is markedly higher. (Yes, the belt exists. Yes, they call it that. Yes, that’s also awkward.) Today the belt covers roughly 40 percent of the U.S. population. Research suggests the number will be 56 percent by 2050, 70 percent by 2095. With more pollen in the air due to climate change, everyone is worried about allergies. But focus your attention where it really counts. Common sense suggests the best time to lock up a world-class urologist is now.