Archive for the tag “future scenarios”

Industrial civilisation can’t wean itself off fossil fuels painlessly

Chris Martenson writes: The data seems to confirm this: Humanity is not going to painlessly wean itself off of fossil fuels. Instead, we will hit some sort of a wall: a food/population crisis, a climate crisis, or a debt/fiscal/economic crisis.  Each of those candidates has its roots in our global societys addition to fossil fuels.

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Bookshelf: When trucks stop running, so does civilization

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Three minutes to midnight: Scientists reset doomsday clock

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

Unchecked climate change, global nuclear weapons modernizations, and outsized nuclear weapons arsenals pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity, and world leaders have failed to act with the speed or on the scale required to protect citizens from potential catastrophe. These failures of political leadership endanger every person on Earth.” Despite some modestly positive developments in the climate change arena, current efforts are entirely insufficient to prevent a catastrophic warming of Earth. Meanwhile, the United States and Russia have embarked on massive programs to modernize their nuclear triads—thereby undermining existing nuclear weapons treaties. The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.

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Oxfam Report: 10 Million at Risk of Hunger Due to Climate Change and El Niño

Common Dreams

At least ten million of the poorest people face food insecurity in 2015 and 2016 due to extreme weather conditions and the onset of El Niño, Oxfam has reported.

In Oxfam’s new report called Entering Uncharted Waters, erratic weather patterns were noted including high temperatures and droughts, disrupting farming seasons around the world.

Countries are already facing a “major emergency,” said Oxfam, including Ethiopia where 4.5 million people are in need of food assistance due to a drought this year. Read more…

Three Leading Think-tanks Studying Global Crises

The Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University
The Future of Humanity Institute is a leading research centre looking at big-picture questions for human civilization. The last few centuries have seen tremendous change, and this century might transform the human condition in even more fundamental ways.  Using the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science, we explore the risks and opportunities that will arise from technological change, weigh ethical dilemmas, and evaluate global priorities.  Our goal is to clarify the choices that will shape humanity’s long-term future.


Visit the Future of Humanity Institute website
Learn about FHIs Global Priorities Project
Read Aeon magazines excellent profile of FHI


Centre for Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge University
An existential risk is one that threatens the existence of our entire species.  The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) — a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist, and a software entrepreneur — was founded on the conviction that these risks require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive.  CSER is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction. It is led by astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees and its advisors include Stephen Hawking.

CSER LogoVisit the CSER website
Watch Earth in its final century? A TED talk by Sir Martin Rees, CSER head


Global Challenges Foundation
The Global Challenges Foundation works to raise awareness of the greatest threats facing humanity. In particular climate change, other environmental damage and political violence, and how these threats are linked to poverty and the rapid growth in global population. These problems appear insurmountable without an international body with decision-making mandate. The Foundation is therefore working to identify possible solutions and models as to how the United Nations can develop, and initiate new ideas on working global governance.

Visit the Global Challenges Foundation website
Read/download the GCF report: 12 Risks That Threaten Human Civilisation

Four Reports: Global Risks, Water, Food Policy Natural Capital

Environmental Risks Dominate the WEF Global Risks Report 2015
Edge Environment
Surveyed responses ranked the risks of ‘Water Crises’, ‘Failure of Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Extreme Weather Events’ among the topmost likely and impactful global risks in the World Economic Forums Global Risks Report 2015. These potential risks were considered of greater importance than other possible responses such as ‘Terrorist attacks’, ‘Fiscal Crisis’ and ‘Cyber attacks’. Of the 5 umbrella risks areas assessed (Economic, Geopolitical, Societal, Technological and Environmental), the report identifies ‘Environmental risks’ as the area in which there has been the least progress over the past 10 years.
Read the article   View the report

UN report: Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030
India Environmental Portal
Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource warns this latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability.
View/download the report

IFPRI: Global Food Policy report 2014-2015
International Food Policy Research Institute
This 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and—supported by the latest knowledge and research—explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
View/download the report

TEEB Report: No top industry would be profitable if it paid for natural capital
Shareable.net
This recent report was undertaken by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

Trucost’s big finding is that of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero. That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
Read the article   Download the report (pdf) 

Four Reports: Global Risks, Water, Food Policy & Natural Capital

Environmental Risks Dominate the WEF Global Risks Report 2015
Edge Environment
Surveyed responses ranked the risks of ‘Water Crises’, ‘Failure of Climate Change Adaptation’ and ‘Extreme Weather Events’ among the topmost likely and impactful global risks in the World Economic Forums Global Risks Report 2015. These potential risks were considered of greater importance than other possible responses such as ‘Terrorist attacks’, ‘Fiscal Crisis’ and ‘Cyber attacks’. Of the 5 umbrella risks areas assessed (Economic, Geopolitical, Societal, Technological and Environmental), the report identifies ‘Environmental risks’ as the area in which there has been the least progress over the past 10 years.
Read the article   View the report

UN report: Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030
India Environmental Portal
Earth is facing a 40% shortfall in water supply by 2030, unless we dramatically improve the management of this precious resource warns this latest edition of the UN World Water Development Report. The WWDR 2015 demonstrates how water resources and services are essential to achieving global sustainability.
View/download the report

IFPRI: Global Food Policy report 2014-2015
International Food Policy Research Institute
This 2014–2015 Global Food Policy Report is the fourth in an annual series that provides a comprehensive overview of major food policy developments and events. In this report, distinguished researchers, policymakers, and practitioners review what happened in food policy in 2014 at the global, regional, and national levels, and—supported by the latest knowledge and research—explain why. This year’s report is the first to also look forward a year, offering analysis of the potential opportunities and challenges that we will face in achieving food and nutrition security in 2015.
View/download the report

TEEB Report: No top industry would be profitable if it paid for natural capital
Shareable.net
This recent report was undertaken by environmental consultancy Trucost on behalf of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) program sponsored by United Nations Environmental Program. TEEB asked Trucost to tally up the total “unpriced natural capital” consumed by the world’s top industrial sectors. (“Natural capital” refers to ecological materials and services like, say, clean water or a stable atmosphere; “unpriced” means that businesses don’t pay to consume them.)

Trucost’s big finding is that of the top 20 region-sectors ranked by environmental impacts, none would be profitable if environmental costs were fully integrated. Ponder that for a moment: None of the world’s top industrial sectors would be profitable if they were paying their full freight. Zero. That amounts to an global industrial system built on sleight of hand. As Paul Hawken likes to put it, we are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
Read the article   Download the report (pdf) 

Isaac Asimov: The Nightmare Life Without Fuel

Edward Burtynsky: The end of oil
In 1977, Time magazine asked science writer Isaac Asimov for his vision of an energy-poor society that might exist at the end of the 20th century. The following portrait, Asimov noted, need not prove to be accurate. It is a picture of the worst, of waste continuing, of oil running out, of nothing in its place, of world population continuing to rise. But then, that could happen, couldnt it?

So its 1997, and its raining, and youll have to walk to work again. The subways are crowded, and any given train breaks down one morning out of five. The buses are gone, and on a day like today the bicycles slosh and slide. Besides, you have only a mile and a half to go, and you have boots, raincoat and rain hat. And its not a very cold rain, so why not?

Lucky you have a job in demolition too. Its steady work.

Slow and dirty, but steady. The fading structures of a decaying city are the great mineral mines and hardware shops of the nation. Break them down and re-use the parts. Coal is too difficult to dig up and transport to give us energy in the amounts we need, nuclear fission is judged to be too dangerous, the technical breakthrough toward nuclear fusion that we hoped for never took place, and solar batteries are too expensive to maintain on the earths surface in sufficient quantity. Read more…

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