“After nuclear war, human- induced global warming is the greatest threat to human life on the planet. Today’s 7.5 billion human beings are already the most predatory species that ever existed, yet the global population has yet to peak and may reach 10 billion people, with dire implications absent a fundamental change in human behavior.”
A major new report suggests the high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end’ starting in 2050. The harrowing scenario above of how human civilization might collapse in coming decades due to climate change was painted by retired Admiral Chris Barrie, Chief of the Australian Defense Force from 1998 to 2002 and former Deputy Chief of the Australian Navy.
The report argues that the potentially “extremely serious outcomes” of climate-related security threats are almost impossible to quantify because they “fall outside the human experience of the last thousand years.”
The analysis, published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank in Melbourne, Australia, describes climate change as “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” and sets out a plausible scenario of where business-as-usual could lead over the next 30 years.
On our current trajectory, the report warns, “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 only way to avoid the risks of this scenario is what the report describes as “akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization”—but this time focused on rapidly building out a zero-emissions industrial system to set in train the restoration of a safe climate.
The scenario warns that our current trajectory will likely lock in at least 3 degrees Celsius (C) of global heating, which in turn could trigger further amplifying feedbacks unleashing further warming. This would drive the accelerating collapse of key ecosystems “including coral reef systems, the Amazon rainforest and in the Arctic.”
“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 notes.
In the Existential Climate Related Security Risk briefing’s foreword, Admiral Barrie praises the paper 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.”
Read What Lies Beneath here. The Breakthrough study argues for an urgent risk reframing of climate research and the IPCC reports. What Lies Beneath is the inside story of how climate policy-making has become embedded in a culture of failure and scientific reticence. The report brings together the voices of some of the world’s leading scientists.
The Daily Galaxy, Sam Cabot, via Breakthrough Center