Extrapolations: the real science behind Apple’s climate change drama


There are kernels of real science in Apple’s new star-studded climate change drama Extrapolations. In the first episode alone, we see raging fires, water shortages, and vanishing Arctic ice. These threats are real. 

The show also makes some stuff up for the sake of telling a story. (Spoiler alert!) Walruses, for one, face much more danger from humans than we do from them. But considering their status as a “vulnerable” species due in part to oil and gas drilling and shrinking sea ice, a little walrus rage in the first episode is probably warranted. There’s also no such thing as “summer heart,” a medical condition we see in the second episode. But heat does put extra strain on the heart, and it’s already the top weather-related killer in the US.

The Verge put together this guide to some of the biggest science themes in the first three episodes of Extrapolations, all of which start streaming today. We break down how the show compares to the real-life climate crisis at our doorsteps and whether some of the solutions it poses could actually work.

We see raging fires, water shortages, and vanishing Arctic ice — these threats are real

Episode 1:

How much is the planet warming?

The season opens in 2037, with the world facing warming close to 2 degrees Celsius above temperatures during the preindustrial age. That might not sound like a big change, but it comes with dramatic consequences for life on Earth. With that much warming, 99 percent of coral reefs are expected to vanish, for instance. Things get dire for people, too, with more extreme weather, severe fire seasons, and rising sea levels. At 2 degrees of warming, more than 70 percent of the world’s coastlines are gobbled up by sea level rise of more than 0.66 feet (0.2 meters). The strongest tropical cyclones, Category 4 and 5 storms, become more common. The area scorched by wildfires each summer in the Mediterranean grows by 62 percent. And 388 million people around the world face water scarcity

The landmark climate agreement struck in Paris does commit countries around the world to limit warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. The world has already heated up by a little over 1 degree Celsius. And…

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