We’ve seen some very grim predictions on climate change in the past, but nothing quite like a new report that was released yesterday. The latest article comes our way via the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, a think-tank located in Melbourne, Australia. According to Vice, the report was written by former fossil fuel executive and has been endorsed by a former top-ranking military official in the Australian military. What makes this particular story stand out however, is that it indicates that climate change is more of an immediate threat than we believe, calling it “a near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization” that could bring down mankind in as little as 30 years.
The report suggests that the planet over the next three decades the prospect of the Earth becoming uninhabitable for humans will lead to a fundamental breakdown of the international community. Nations will compete with one another over increasingly scare resources, which will eventually cause civilization to collapse. David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, the authors of the article, say that the only way to avoid this catastrophic outcome is to focus our attention on a “World War II emergency mobilization” level effort that would turn our attention towards creating an industrial base that offers zero emissions and a substantial investment into developing clean energy sources.
Spratt is the research director for the Breakthrough Centre, while Dunlop is a former senior executive of Royal Dutch Shell and has previously chaired the Australian Coal Association. The forward for the paper was written by retired Admiral Chris Barrie, who was the Chief of the Australian Defence Force from 1998 to 2002 and is the former Deputy Chief of the Australian Navy.
In creating the report, Spratt and Dunlop predicated a 3ºC rise in global temperatures, which they say will cause 1 billion people to have to relocate in order to survive, while 2 billion would face a shortage of water. They also predict the complete collapse of several ecosystems, including coral reefs around the world and the potential elimination of the Arctic. The grim report indicates that agricultural production in the sub-tropics would fall off a cliff, creating a scarcity of food the world over. This would lead to political instability and unrest on a global scale, with “The internal cohesion of nation-states like the US and China” unraveling.
In one of its more grimmer passages the report says, “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.” In other words, once this train starts rolling down the tracks, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to stop and the results are going to be cataclysmic in terms of scope.
Obviously the report is offering a potential worst-case scenario, but Spratt and Dunlop say that the consequences are very real and a definite possibility. They say that policy makers are often given conservative estimates to the impact of climate change, which is leading to them underestimating the real threat. As a result, the impact is downplayed dramatically. Their predictions for the coming crisis –– while dire –– are potentially more realistic.
For the sake of mankind, lets hope they’re not too accurate. Or at least that we start to pay attention to these grim reports more closely in time to do something about it.
The full report is available here.