Sunday, November 3, 2019

#307 / 2050 Is Just Around The Corner

2050 is "just around the corner." At least, that is the perspective of someone like me, who has already lived for seventy-five years. 2050 is roughly thirty years away, so I have lived more than twice as long as the thirty years that now separate us from 2050. For someone who has lived thirty or fewer years, of course, thirty years is likely to appear to be a rather long time. It is a "lifetime," in fact.

From whatever vantage point you consider the year 2050, and whether you think that thirty years is a "long" time or a "short" time, the following headline should make that 2050 date significant:

High likelihood of human civilisation coming to end’ by 2050, report finds

Here is a link to an article in The Independent, published in Great Britain, to which the headline above applies. Harry Cockburn, who wrote the article, is reporting on a paper produced by the Melbourne-based think tank the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.

The Breakthrough Centre defines its mission as "the development and promotion of strategies, innovation and analysis which are required to restore the climate to a safe condition." The Breakthrough report was written by David Spratt and Ian Dunlop, with a forward by Chris Barriethe former chief of the Australian Defence Forces and a retired Admiral in the Royal Australian Navy.

Clicking this link will take you to the full report. The article already linked provides a good synopsis. The key point, and the reason for this blog post, is not just that we need to take very seriously the impacts that accelerating global warming is having on the natural environment. We do need to do that, of course, but we also need to think about what the impacts of the coming changes in the natural environment will mean for our human civilization. We need to think about those dangers and threats, in other words, the way Admirals and Generals have always thought about the threats and dangers posed by other nations, as nations skirmish for geopolitical advance and/or domination. 

Human-caused global warming is initiating a Sixth Mass Extinction. That is horrible, but what the Breakthrough Report is trying to make clear is a point that I, too, try to make clear in the series of daily blog postings that I have been making on this website for almost ten years. 

We live ultimately in the World of Nature, but we live most immediately in a Human World, a "Political World," a world that we can properly call our human "civilization." While we have the ability to undermine the integrity of the Natural World, and are doing so (witness that Sixth Mass Extinction) our own, human world is less resilient and more vulnerable than the World of Nature. 

In other words, our human civilization will break down BEFORE the worst has happened in the Natural World. In fact, according to the Breakthrough report, we don't have long to get ready and to do something about that. 

This is obviously very bad news, but is there an upside? Is there any good news? 

Maybe there is! If we can truly understand that we live, most immediately, in a human world, and that all our lives depend on being able to maintain the viability of our human civilization, then the unity of human beings across all perceived boundaries and differences will melt away. We are in this together. All of us. Every single one of us. In our current situation, in our current crisis, it is only human empathy, love, and commitment to each other that can avert the end to the human civilization we have created and that makes it possible for our lives to continue. 

Sooner or later, we are going to realize this. Young girls are sailing across the ocean to bring us this news. I think we're going to figure this out, but we don't have much time.

2050 is just around the corner!

Image Credit:


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. This entry seems somehow related to the premise of Anand Giridharadas’s Winners Take All that the over-rich take pride in their great philanthropy (when they are philanthropic) when often they are countering problems that they themselves have contribute to if not created. And to make matters more galling, because their wealth is not taxed enough, they, rather than our representatives, get to choose which problems get addressed!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Thank you for pointing us towards Harry Cockburn, whom I'm now following. He seems very skilled at synthesizing a cornucopia of scientific material. Here's his latest, on how we may already have passed critical tipping points:


Thanks for your comment!