That sort of rhetoric may sound alarmist, but there are some ominous clouds on the horizon.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has forecast a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century. Some scientists consider even that a conservative estimation.
As temperatures rise, so do the repercussions.
“What we’re seeing through these impacts is what climate change is going to do: the drought out West, the forest fires out West, the heat wave that we’re experiencing, the hurricanes that are getting stronger and moving differently, the hurricane seasons that are extending in length,” said Jason Smerdon, a professor at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University.
“All of these things have strong climate change fingerprints. And this is very much the kind of things we can expect more of moving forward,” Smerdon said.
Travis Johnson, founder and senior survival skills instructor at Northwest Survival School in Ione, Washington, doesn’t need to imagine those future scenarios. He can smell it.
Taking a batch of students into the mountains for advanced training last month, Johnson said they would be hit with the stench of the wildfires plaguing other parts of Washington as they descended to base camp.
Johnson said he’s had a 60 percent increase in enrollment this year over previous years, and the 25-year veteran of the craft credited that influx to climate change.
“This year it’s been people that you wouldn’t normally expect who do it because they’ve never been interested in the outdoors,” Johnson said. “We’re getting a lot more family groups, instead of just fathers and sons, because they want everybody in the group to have these preparedness skills whether for urban [environments] or wilderness.”
There is increasing pessimism about what the quality of life will be like for the next generation. Among the students enrolled in Hobel’s Wilderness 1 class on the day NBC News attended were three children under the age of 9.
Kavita Pawria-Sanchez, 44, a lawyer from Brooklyn, New York, watched her 7-year-old daughter, Sahira, become mesmerized as Hobel started a fire with embers from a stick rubbed down on a wooden board, using fibers from cedar bark as tinder and twigs as kindling.
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