Climate Change Could End Human Civilization by 2050


Jun 4, 2019


An Australian think tank has published an analysis that forecasts climate change as an existential risk that might decimate the human race as we know it by 2050.

Melbourne-based Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration published the analysis, authored by David Spratt, Breakthrough’s research director, and Ian Dunlop, former chair at the Australian Coal Association. The authors warn that devastating consequences of climate change are far more likely to occur than conventionally assumed. They also believe that these far-reaching consequences are hard to quantify due to their being drastically different from anything the human race had previously experienced over the last 1,000 years.

However, quantifying those consequences might be the need of the hour, considering that the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) extremely alarming 2018 report on climate change was not considered alarming enough.

“The UN’s [IPCC] Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius, is a major advance over previous efforts to alert world leaders and citizens to the growing climate risk. But the report, dire as it is, misses a key point: Self-reinforcing feedbacks and tipping points—the wildcards of the climate system—could cause the climate to destabilize even further,” wrote a renowned group of scientists in an essay for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

There currently exist six such tipping points that might trigger a domino effect climate. One of them is the Artic Death Spiral, where the loss of Arctic sea ice leads to extreme climate conditions and a significant drop in food production. Scientists also postulate that the loss of sea ice leads to an increase in the melting of permafrost, which might release large quantities of methane – a extremely potent greenhouse gas – into the atmosphere.

The Breakthrough analysis, endorsed in the foreword by a former Australian defense chief and senior royal navy commander, states that “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.”

According to Spratt and Dunlop, the planet is likely to experience a permanent elevation of 3-degrees Celsius of heat at its current trajectory, leading to further degradation of key ecosystems like the Arctic, the Amazon rainforest and coral reefs around the world, triggering mass relocation, water scarcity, agricultural failure and a complete change in how prominent nations function.

In the foreword, Admiral Chris Barrie stated that, “David Spratt and Ian Dunlop have laid 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. “

Spratt and Dunlop’s analysis also states that the only way to avoid the ‘hothouse Earth’ scenario would be to set in motion a strategy for a Marshall Plan-style construction of a zero-carbon-dioxide energy supply and major electrification to build a zero-carbon industrial strategy, “a shift in productive capacity of society akin to that in World War II.”

With doomsday-esque predictions of socio-political breakdowns merely decades away, and the marginalized in developing countries placed right at front in the line of fire, now is the best time to throw support behind policies that take climate change and its active prevention into cognizance.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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