A climate change paper grabbed headlines this week with its terrifying prediction of what the world will be in 30 years’ time – absent drastic and immediate change to human societies.
“World of outright chaos,” “Climate apocalypse,” “We’re all gonna die,” the media banners blared.
The sobering headlines and equally disconcerting stories beneath described a “scenario analysis” by an Australian think-tank, Breakthrough National Center for Climate Restoration.
The paper portrayed what the year 2050 will look like if urgent action to build carbon-neutral energy systems around the world fails to come to fruition in the next 10 years.
It’s worse than any of the apocalyptic Hollywood horror films making the rounds.
One billion people displaced and fighting desperately for survival, with half the world’s population subjected to “lethal heat” conditions for more than 20 days a year – “beyond the threshold of human survivability”.
Drought, wildfires, and floods collapse entire ecosystems as two billion people struggle for potable water. Mega-cities such as Mumbai, Hong Kong, Lagos, and Manila are largely abandoned because of massive floods.
“This scenario provides a glimpse into a world of ‘outright chaos’ on a path to the end of human civilisation and modern society as we have known it,” said the paper, co-authored by Ian Dunlop, a former chair of the Australian Coal Association, and David Spratt, a long-time climate researcher.
‘The end game’
Spratt told Al Jazeera the eye-catching headlines were “somewhat over the top”, but he maintained the dire warnings were legitimate.
“We are reaching the end game, there are not a lot of pieces left on the chess board. We have to take action really fast,” said Spratt.
He challenged climate scientists, including those from the leading Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to be more forthright with the global public about the calamity awaiting humanity if nothing is immediately done to halt the pumping of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the Earth’s atmosphere.
The planet is currently on track for a 4.5 degree Celsius increase in global temperature as CO2 emissions continue to rise each year.
Dunlop noted the IPCC set a target of staying below a 1.5C increase in the coming decades. “This IPCC analysis assumes only a 50-66 percent chance of meeting the targets. Not good odds for the future of humanity,” he wrote this week.
Asked about the criticism, IPCC’s Nina Peeva responded: “We can’t comment on individual papers on climate science. Our job is to inform policymakers about the current state of knowledge on climate change… If this paper was published in a peer-reviewed journal, it will probably be considered in the next assessment appearing in 2021.”