Civilization may unravel just 30 years from now, without emergency action to save the climate. Climate-driven storms, droughts, and fires are coming much sooner than scientists predicted. Now an Australian report suggests civilization as we know it could break down—starting as early as 2050. It comes from former fossil fuel lobbyist Ian Dunlop and Code Red author David Spratt, with an introduction by Admiral Chris Barrie, once Australia’s top military officer.
“Existential climate-related security risk: A scenario approach” was published by Australia’s Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration. It got incredible press coverage and viral social media buzz around the world.
Show by Radio Ecoshock, reposted under CC License. Episode details at https://www.ecoshock.org/2019/06/the-end-is-in-sight.html
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Spratt and Dunlop are not predicting the world will end by 2050, or that humans will go extinct then. Civilization will BEGIN to unravel as early as 2050. It could be 2060. But we’re heading beyond the bounds where global civilization and maybe our nations can function. We’re approaching breakdown.
Is this alarmist? David has been accused of that, but some top scientists agree with him. His early warnings have generally proved true. We have been in an emergency Code Red situation for some years now, but have so far failed to act. UN Chief Guterres said the status quo on climate policy ‘is a suicide’.
This report is 10 pages that make sense, not long or heavy. We encourage you to read it for yourself: https://stopfossilfuels.org/politicians-not-enough/existential-risk-neoliberal-policymaking/
CIVILIZATION BREAKING POINT?
We don’t know the exact breaking point. Some scientists say 3C of warming, others wonder if we could last until 4C. If all countries honor their Paris Agreement pledges—which so far they are not—the official line is Earth would warm up to 3C by the end of this century. That’s a disaster. And We could get to 3C warming by 2050.
The report says by 2050, “North America suffers from devastating weather extremes including wildfires, heatwaves, drought and inundation.” We already have all that! But it could be worse still.
News agencies asked a few climate scientists to fact-check what they called Breakthrough’s “Doomsday scenario”. Most agreed Spratt and Dunlop were projecting real possibilities:
“The Emeritus Director of the Potsdam Institute, Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, warns ‘climate change is now reaching the end-game, where very soon humanity must choose between taking unprecedented action, or accepting that it has been left too late and bear the consequences.’ If we continue down the present path ‘there is a very big risk that we will end our civilisation. The human species will survive somehow but we will destroy almost everything we have built up over the last two thousand years.’”
CONSERVATIVE SCIENCE CANNOT TELL US THE FULL RISK
A recent paper calculated the heat deaths in 15 major American cities by 2050, but based on statistics from 1987 to 2000. That doesn’t include developments like the increase of multi-continental heat waves, or new back-to-back heat waves. Science can only operate with data from the rear-view mirror—but now we have conditions never seen before. Science is dangerously conservative.
OFFICIAL PROJECTIONS NEVER INCLUDE THE BREAKDOWNS
That heat death study did not include what happens if the electric grid goes down and air-conditioning fails. Official projections all assume our current institutions keep working, without system breakdown. That’s a risky assumption. History shows governments fail. Wars, civil unrest, and economic crashes happen. If climate models can’t deal with outbreaks of chaos—that happen even without climate disruption—where does that leave us?
Last October, David and I talked about his report “What Lies Beneath: The inside story of political failure and scientific reticence on climate change’s existential risks.” Now I’m convinced the limitations of the scientific system have become a real danger to us all. Why don’t we get the real warnings that are flashing up Code Red?
It’s possible the terrible collapse scenario Spratt and Dunlop described will not happen, or will not happen for another century. But that seems less and less likely. If civilization collapses within one generation, that still would not solve the problem of climate change as the warming will continue, as oceans release heat and the permafrost feedback cycle kicks in. But at least an end to fossil-fuel-powered humans could finally stop the worst of our emissions. Scientists like Tim Garrett at the University of Utah suggest that only a major breakdown in civilization can slow the rush to global warming.[Stop Fossil Fuels agrees. Visit https://stopfossilfuels.org for more.]
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