The worst possible climate change catastrophic scenarios, including collapse of society or the potential extinction of humans are being ignored according to a group of global scientists.
The group of 11 scientists have called upon the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to prepare a special science report to bring into focus how much is at stake in a worst-case scenario.
In their perspective presented to the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists have raised the idea of human extinction and worldwide societal collapse, calling it ‘a dangerously underexplored topic’.
The scientists, however, have said they aren’t saying that worst is going to happen but the trouble is no one knows how likely or unlikely a ‘climate endgame’ is and the world needs those calculations to battle global warming.
Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge faculty and lead author of the study Luke Kemp said, “Even if we have a 1% chance of having a global catastrophe, going extinct over the coming century, that 1%, that is too high.”
Global Systems Institute at the University of Exeter and co-author of the study Tim Lenton said, “Good risk analyses consider both what’s most likely and what’s the worst that could happen but because of push back from non-scientists who reject climate change, mainstream climate science has concentrated on looking at what’s most likely and also disproportionately on low-temperature warming scenarios that come close to international goals.”
When global science organizations look at climate change they tend to just look at what happens in the world: Extreme weather, higher temperatures, melting ice sheets, rising seas and plant and animal extinctions. But they aren’t factoring enough how these reverberate in human societies and interact with existing problems — like war, hunger and disease.
University of Washington public health and climate professor and a co-author of the study Kristie Ebi said, “It was a mistake health professionals made before COVID-19 when assessing possible pandemics. They talked about disease spread, but not lockdowns, supply chain problems and spiralling economies.
Professor Lenton said researching worst case scenarios could find nothing to worry about. “Maybe it’s that you can thoroughly rule out a number of these bad scenarios. Well, that’s actually really well worth spending your time doing that. Then we should all cheer up a bit,” he said.