Yesterday (New Year's Eve), the temperature here in Melbourne reached 41 degrees Celsius (that's just under 106 Fahrenheit for those of you in the United States and Belize) -- the hottest day of 2007, as it happens. The overnight minimum was 30 degrees (86 for those of you etc), which I think is higher than all but a few days I experienced in the northern summer just past. Today is predicted to be another 40 degree day, though at least a weak change is predicted for the afternoon. Even now (a bit after 11am), it's nudging 38 outside. Inside, my little flat at the top of my building is disgustingly hot and I can't think, so I'm going into town to work at the State Library instead, which should be nice and cool. (I do have a sadly-neglected desk in the department, in an air-conditioned room, but they've changed the building entry codes or something and I don't think I can get in.)
But what of the future? All else being equal, as global warming begins to take hold, and the average temperature rises, we will see more days like today and yesterday, and hotter days too. So more and more poor postgraduate students like me, who can't afford to live somewhere cool, will tend to gravitate towards the SLV. Eventually, a point of no return will be reached: so many postgrads will have gathered there that the mass of the combined SLV+postgrads aggregate will be enough to form a black hole. Then, even if they do finish writing their theses, how will their examiners read their theses? If Hawking is right, they'd have to wait until the black hole had evaporated before the outside world could know what they had written, which of course is no use to them anyway.
So, ultimately, as far as the outside world is concerned, the number of new PhDs being produced will drop to zero. This pattern will recur all around the planet. Australia and other hot countries will succumb first. Countries with colder climes will last longer, but they will fall too, eventually. So historical research will one day grind to a halt. This is the tragedy of global warming!
See, told you I can't think in this heat. I'm off to the library.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://airminded.org/copyright/.