Human civilization would come to an end in 2050 – the likelihood of which is high as suggested by the new report. A former fossil fuel executive wrote a distressing scenario analysis on how human civilization might collapse because of climate change in coming decades, and it has been backed by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander.
The Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration which is a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia, published the analysis, and describes climate change as “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” and marks the beginning of a likely scenario especially considering where business-as-usual could lead us over the next 30 years.
The paper argues that often the likely “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are far more probable than what assumed conventionally, however, quantifying them is almost impossible as they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”
The report warns on our current trajectory that “Planetary and human systems [are] reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order.”
The risks of this scenario are avoidable only by what the report describes as “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”—however, this time focus is on building out an industrial system with zero-emissions rapidly to help the restoration of a safe climate.
The scenario warns that our present approach will probably lock in minimum 3C of global heating, which in turn could trigger additionally amplifying feedbacks releasing more warming. As a result key ecosystems “including coral reef systems, the Amazon rainforest and in the Arctic,” would collapse speedily.
The results would be horrendous. It would force around one billion people to attempt for relocation from uninhabitable conditions, and water supplies would be scarce for two billion people. Agriculture would crumble in the sub-tropics, and in the entire world food production would suffer dramatically. It would also unravel the internal cohesion of nation-states like the US and China.
The report states,
Even for 2°C of warming, more than a billion people may need to be relocated and in high-end scenarios, the scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model with a high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end
The new policy briefing is written by David Spratt, research director of the Breakthrough and a former senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell, Ian Dunlop, who previously chaired the Australian Coal Association.
The Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 1998 to 2002 and former Deputy Chief of the Australian Navy, retired Admiral Chris Barrie commends the paper In the foreword of the briefing for laying “bare the unvarnished truth about the desperate situation humans, and our planet, are in, painting a disturbing picture of the real possibility that human life on Earth may be on the way to extinction, in the most horrible way.”
Currently, Barrie works for the Climate Change Institute at Australian National University, Canberra.
Spratt told Motherboard that the key reason behind the risks is not understood is that “much knowledge produced for policymakers is too conservative. Because the risks are now existential, a new approach to climate and security risk assessment is required using scenario analysis.”
As Motherboard reported on scientific evidence last October, the findings in the UN’s summary report for government policymakers on climate change, that were widely recognized as “devastating,” were highly optimistic.
Although the Breakthrough scenario sets out some of the more possible ‘high end’ risks, quantifying their probabilities meaningfully often not become possible, as a result, the authors highlight that conventional risk approaches tend to downplay worst-case scenarios despite their possibility.
According to Spratt and Dunlop’s 2050 scenario, an accelerating runaway climate scenario would make this planet largely uninhabitable within just a few decades bringing a smooth end of everything.
“A high-end 2050 scenario finds a world in social breakdown and outright chaos,” said Spratt. “But a short window of opportunity exists for an emergency, global mobilization of resources, in which the logistical and planning experiences of the national security sector could play a valuable role.”