A new report released by an Australian think tank has warned the public that we have perhaps less than three decades to reduce or eliminate carbon emissions enough to avert a catastrophe the likes of which has never happened before in human history. The worst part? It acknowledges that the reports the international community of climatologists keep feeding us actually have to be approved by their respective governments (collectively), which is exactly why those reports fail to grasp the magnitude of the world’s crisis.
Can we prevent global climate change? Yes.
Will we do it? Unlikely.
The report says that without a wartime response to climate change, i.e. doing whatever we need to do to crush opposition, we will probably fail in the goals outlined years ago during the Paris Climate Accord.
According to the think tank’s report, at least half of the world’s population will become subject to at least twenty days of lethal heat every year. Many of these people will reside in poorer communities and countries lacking in the infrastructure needed to keep them cool. This will occur by 2050.
Other events that are seemingly inevitable in the near-future? The collapse of the Amazon ecosystem through the systematic cutting down of the temperature-regulating rain forests and positive feedback loops. An ice-free arctic each summer. A half-meter rise in sea level. Global famine as crop yields are slashed by at least a fifth even as the world’s population continues to rise. These events will also occur by 2050.
“The scale of destruction is beyond our capacity to model,” the report’s authors wrote.
Because global temperatures will likely rise past the two degrees necessary to keep everything from spirally out of control, positive feedback loops will result in even more warming. This will result in a climate crisis that will include a stark increase in freak weather events and unforeseen storms. All these factors will compel people to move to more hospitable environments. Over a billion people might be displaced due to climate change by 2050, a projection far higher than the World Bank’s estimate of 140 million.
War could break out as people fight over lack of food and water, putting the survival of humanity in even greater jeopardy.
In 2014 the Pentagon released a report citing a number of risks would arise due to global climate change. These included terrorism, disease, poverty, and famine. The report was released as a way to promote the need for a military ready to adapt to these inevitable changes. It seems politicians still haven’t provided the necessary backing.
Not everyone agrees with these assessments, of course.
Pennsylvania State University’s Michael Mann said, “I respect the authors and appreciate that their intentions are good, but as I have written before, overblown rhetoric, exaggeration, and unsupportable doomist framing can be counteractive to climate action.”
Either way, two things are certain: we are not doing enough to prevent catastrophic runaway warming, and we’re not doing anything fast enough to make a big difference. Are we really doomed?