A recently released report paints a bleak picture for humanity, claiming that there is a “high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end” during the next 30 years. The report points to the climate crisis – which is expected to escalate over the coming decades – and asserts that, if action isn’t taken soon, it may be too late.
Published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, an Australian think tank, the report describes an apocalyptic scenario by 2050, as conditions “beyond the threshold of human survivability” extend across the Earth.
The analysis of the climate situation, according to a report by IFL Science, isn’t sugar-coated at any stage, issuing a bleak warning that an “existential risk to civilization” is occurring, “posing permanent large negative consequences to humanity that may never be undone, either annihilating intelligent life or permanently and drastically curtailing its potential.”
The authors of the report state that the planet is in a unique situation – one without a historical equivalent – that results in temperatures unlike anything humanity has ever faced. In their “2050 scenario,” the think tank members outline the circumstances by which humanity could face an inevitable collapse in a mere 30 years’ time.
Starting in the 2020 to 2030 timeframe, the report states that governments could fail to take steps to curb rising temperatures, even as evidence that the Paris Agreement is insufficient mounts. As carbon dioxide levels soar and reach 437 parts per million – an amount that hasn’t been seen during the last 20 million years – the planet’s temperature rises by 1.6°C (2.8°F).
By 2030, emissions are projected to peak and then start to reduce. However, the continued reliance on fossil fuels and carbon cycle feedbacks still result in temperature increases, warming the Earth by 3°C (5.4°F) by the year 2050.
In 2050, a “Hothouse Earth” scenario begins. Even if all emissions stop immediately, a further temperature increase of 1°C (1.8°F) can occur.
At this stage, humanity is in dire straits. Among the global population, 55 percent will have to endure over 20 days of lethal heat conditions each year. In North America, heatwaves, droughts, and wildfires will become more common and, if China fails to get its typical monsoons, major rivers in Asia will essentially dry up. Rainfall in Central America could decrease by half.
In West Africa, fatal heat conditions could last for more than 100 days each year. Since many poorer countries can’t provide cooled shelter to get away from the heat, the population is at significant risk.
Food production would also decline severely, becoming inadequate for the existing population levels. Over a billion people are ultimately displaced.
The situation would also produce additional risks, affecting national security. Pandemic disease outbreaks become overwhelming, and armed conflicts increase as countries and populations battle over limited resources.
In the worst-case scenario, there is a “high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end,” according to the report.
In order to avoid these consequences, the authors recommend that counties “urgently examine the role that the national security sector can play in providing leadership and capacity for a near-term, society-wide, emergency mobilization of labor and resources, of a scale unprecedented in peacetime, to build a zero-emissions industrial system and draw down carbon to protect human civilization.”
While it would be a challenging undertaking, it could be plausible. A recent IPCC report outlined an approach that suggests if temperature increases can be limited properly, this scenario is avoidable.