It seems every week there’s a scary new report about how man-made climate change is going to cause the collapse of the world’s ice sheets, result in the extinction of up to 1 million animal species and — if that wasn’t bad enough — make our beer very, very expensive.
This week, a new policy paper from an Australian think tank claims that those other reports are slightly off; the risks of climate change are actually much, much worse than anyone can imagine.
According to the paper, climate change poses a “near- to mid-term existential threat to human civilization,” and there’s a good chance society could collapse as soon as 2050 if serious mitigation actions aren’t taken in the next decade.
Published by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne (an independent think tank focused on climate policy) and authored by a climate researcher and a former fossil fuel executive, the paper’s central thesis is that climate scientists are too restrained in their predictions of how climate change will affect the planet in the near future.
The current climate crisis, they say, is larger and more complex than any humans have ever dealt with before. General climate models — like the one that the United Nations’ Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) used in 2018 to predict that a global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) could put hundreds of millions of people at risk — fail to account for the sheer complexity of Earth’s many interlinked geological processes; as such, they fail to adequately predict the scale of the potential consequences. The truth, the authors wrote, is probably far worse than any models can fathom.
Read more: Live Science