Climate inaction may threaten human civilisation
By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, June 12: An Australian climate change scenario analysis has warned human civilisation may collapse by 2050 if no dramatic action is taken in the decade to contain the imminent threat of climate change.
Climate change intersects with pre-existing national security risks to function as a threat multiplier and accelerant to instability, contributing to escalating cycles of humanitarian and socio-political crises, conflict and forced migration, a recent report published by the National Centre for Climate Restoration, in Australia, said.
Climate-change impacts on food and water systems, according to the policy paper from Breakthrough: National Centre for Climate Restoration. “Declining crop yields and rising food prices driven by drought, wildfire and harvest failures have already become catalysts for social breakdown and conflict across the Middle East, the Maghreb and the Sahel, contributing to the European migration crisis,” it said while highlighting a scenario in store.
Updated days ago, “Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach”, authored by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, has recommended building a zero-emissions industrial system and drawing down carbon to protect human civilisation.
The analysis said climate change threatens the premature extinction of Earth-originating intelligent life or the permanent and drastic destruction of its potential for desirable future development.
By 2050, human systems could reach a point of no return in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order, it said, warning that the world is on a path to the end of human civilisation and modern society “as we have known” it.
The policy paper calls for society-wide, emergency mobilisation of labour and resources that would be akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization.
Solution, it says, could lie in a “Marshall Plan-style construction of zero-carbon-dioxide energy supply and major electrification to build a zero-carbon industrial strategy.”
The goal will be to limit global warming to just 1.5 degrees Celsius, not the three degrees Celsius previous reports have warning about.
“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 report reads.
Potential impacts by 2050: A number of ecosystems collapse, including coral reef systems, the Amazon rainforest and in the Arctic. Some poorer nations and regions, which lack capacity to provide artificially-cooled environments for their populations, become unviable. Deadly heat conditions persist for more than 100 days per year in West Africa, tropical South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia, contributing to more than a billion people being displaced from the tropical zone. Water availability decreases sharply in the most affected regions at lower latitudes (dry tropics and subtropics), affecting about two billion people worldwide. Agriculture becomes nonviable in the dry subtropics.
Most regions in the world see a significant drop in food production and increasing numbers of extreme weather events, including heat waves, floods and storms. Food production is inadequate to feed the global population and food prices skyrocket, as a consequence of a one-fifth decline in crop yields, a decline in the nutrition content of food crops, a catastrophic decline in insect populations, desertification, monsoon failure and chronic water shortages, and conditions too hot for human habitation in significant food-growing regions. The lower reaches of the agriculturally-important river deltas such as the Mekong, Ganges and Nile are inundated, and significant sectors of some of the world’s most populous cities — including Chennai, Mumbai, Jakarta, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Lagos, Bangkok and Manila — are abandoned. Some small islands become uninhabitable. Ten percent of Bangladesh is inundated, displacing 15 million people. 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 civilisation coming to an end.
The flooding of coastal communities around the world, especially in the Netherlands, the United States, South Asia, and China, has the potential to challenge regional and even national identities. Armed conflict between nations over resources, such as the Nile and its tributaries, is likely and nuclear war is possible. The social consequences range from increased religious fervor to outright chaos.
Giving a glimpse into the chaos, the report said dramatic action was needed to avoid such a probable but catastrophic future. To reduce the risk of “hothouse Earth” and protect human civilisation, “a massive global mobilisation of resources is needed in the coming decade to build a zero-emissions industrial system and set in train the restoration of a safe climate.”