SI Vault
Robert H. Boyle
November 16, 1987
Man-made pollutants are producing changes in the earth's climate that may prove catastrophic
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November 16, 1987

Forecast For Disaster

Man-made pollutants are producing changes in the earth's climate that may prove catastrophic

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And now the news for July 4, 2030:

?The second hurricane of the year has struck the East Coast. The 15-foot seawalls built to protect Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston held against 12-foot tides, but a 25-foot storm surge swept over the eastern tip of Long Island, drowning 260 residents who had refused to leave their homes despite a federal evacuation order. The toll of dead on Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket and Cape Cod is estimated at 50. The 310 fatalities are still far fewer than the 5,600 people who drowned in last month's hurricane in south Florida .

?Twenty-two inches of rain from the hurricane flooded Washington, D.C., breaking the heat wave that had gripped the city for 62 straight days of 90�-plus temperatures. This fell short of the record set eight years ago when 72 consecutive 90-plus days caused the move of the nation's capital to the cooler environs of Marquette, Mich.

?In Sepulveda, Calif., neighbors hammered an elderly widow to death when they learned she had been secretly watering a pot of geraniums. A footnote to this grim story: The woman's husband had died of thirst during the California drought of 1998.

?Food riots broke out in France, where vineyards and farmlands have turned arid amid the rising temperatures.

?Dust bowl conditions continue in the Plains States of the U.S., but orange production is up in Saskatchewan. In eastern Siberia the outlook for a good cotton harvest is promising.

? In Stowe, Vt., botanists announced the death of the last red spruce. The species' demise is blamed on a combination of stresses—acid rain, global warming and ultraviolet radiation .

?In baseball, the Anchorage Braves beat the New York Mets 5-3. In Los Angeles, the Dodgers' game against the Calgary Giants, scheduled for the usual 5:30 a.m. start, was postponed because of dust storms.

?And now the weather. After leaving a swath of destruction in its wake along the East Coast, Hurricane Bruce is expected to move out to sea during the night. In the Midwest, Southwest and West, conditions remain normal—searing heat, drought and dangerous levels of ultraviolet radiation.

If this reads like a newscast from Saturday Night Live , it isn't. This report has been extrapolated from carefully considered forecasts for our planet by a wide variety of scientists as we spin toward the 21st century.

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