End of humanity begins in 2050, most climate change models too 'conservative': Report

The report predicts total chaos & destruction, suggesting an emergency plan for the dire situations to come.

"The end is near." That's the crux of the latest in a series of reports from an Australian think-tank, published on their website. Titled ‘Existential Climate-Related Security Risk’, it highlights a new method of analysis of the "existential" climate and security risks the world is facing with regard to climate change.

The authors have defined climate change as a “near-to-mid-term existential threat to the human civilisation." They claim that studies addressing climate change, related findings and learnings used as a basis for policymakers are "conservative" and "reticent".

Instead, the authors have chosen to explain their findings using "scenario analysis" – a look at potential future events by considering many possible alternative outcomes based on data. The authors of the study are Dr David Spratt, a climate change researcher and Ian Dunlop, former Chairman of the Australian Coal Association and the Australian Greenhouse Office Experts Group on Emissions Trading. The duo has set a potential timeline of 2050, by when the report claims that the entire world could (metaphorically) crumble. The impacts of climate change will have consequences that won’t be undone for centuries, as per the report's analysis.

The increasing temperatures is a cause of concern. Image credit: Pixabay

The increasing temperatures are a cause of concern. Image credit: Pixabay

In this potential scenario, the report discusses a strategy to tackle the "end of the world" by gathering resources from around the world to build a "zero-emissions industrial system". They compare the preparation to it akin to that for war. That's an opinion they share with Greta Thunberg's teacher, Benjamin Wagner, who has also compared climate change to war. In an interview with The Guardian, Wagner said, "Our inability to stop climate change is like the efforts to stop world war one – we knew for years it was coming, they arranged all sorts of conferences, but still they didn’t prevent it."

At the rate we are going, the scenario analysis warns that by the mid-century we will reach a tipping point – the point of no return, which the IPCC Special Report 2018 has left fairly ambiguous. The temperatures will increase another 3 degree Celsius at the least, according to their predictions, after which there will be several consequences. Important ecosystems will collapse, including the world's coral reefs, the Amazon rainforest and the Arctic ice sheets. Around one billion people will be forced to mass migrate because the areas they live in will become uninhabitable. A further two billion will face water scarcity, and agriculture will be near-impossible in areas like today's fertile sub-tropics i.e. areas that fall between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

The tropical regions will become uninhabitable. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

The tropical regions will become uninhabitable. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

"Even for 2-degree Celcius 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 states.

The claims made in the report seem a little broad and general, considering other reports like the recent IPBES make specific predictions, such as the world being in the midst of the sixth mass extinction in Earth's history. After the gloom-and-doom scenario analysis they discuss, the researchers also mention policy changes that should be taken up on war footing.

While they harp on about how current policies are conservative, their own suggestions include adopting a scenario analysis approach to get a deeper understanding of the crisis we're facing. They also recommend focusing on putting in place end-of-the-world regulations to prevent a total breakdown of order when nations do begin to fall apart.

Spratt, in an interview with VICE, offers people some hope.

He says, "A high-end 2050 scenario finds a world in social breakdown and outright chaos. 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."

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