In the 1973 sci-fi cult classic Soylent Green, the world has been ravished by pollution, poverty and rising temperatures fuelled by the “greenhouse effect.”
Food and water are in short supply while the oceans are dying as the world becomes a dystopian desert.
More than 45 years later since the film’s release, the future of mankind is teetering on the brink, according to a climate change white paper published earlier this month by an Australian independent think tank.
“Climate change now represents a near to mid-term existential threat to human civilization,” authors David Spratt, a research director, and Ian Dunlop, the former chairman of the Australian Coal Association who also worked in the oil and gas sectors, said in a report by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration in Melbourne.
“This requires the global mobilization of resources on an emergency basis, akin to a wartime level of response,” they continued.
“Give analytical focus to the role of near-term action as a determinant in preventing planetary and human systems reaching a ‘point of no return’ by mid-century, in which the prospect of a largely uninhabitable Earth leads to the breakdown of nations and the international order,” Spratt and Dunlop added.
The doomsday vision painted by the authors in Existential Climate-Related Security Risk: A Scenario Approach shows a world on the verge of collapse through drought, deforestation and disease after global governments “ignore” the advice of scientists amid growing people-power protests.
By the year 2050, rising temperatures result in vanishing Arctic ice sheets and the destruction of crucial ecosystems such as the Amazon rainforests and coral reefs.
Nearly one-third of the earth’s land is reduced to desert with climate extremes decimating agriculture. This, in turn, triggers a refugee crisis involving one billion people from South America to Southeast Asia.
Mass migration, along with shrinking coastlines, finally rip apart the very fabric of the world’s major nations, including the United States, sparking conflicts over precious resources and even “nuclear war.”
“[What follows is] outright chaos [and perhaps] the end of human global civilization as we know it,” the white paper pointed out.
To underline this existential warning, the study highlighted research showing that rising sea levels would add to the mass migration movement in cities such as Mumbai, Jakarta, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh City, Shanghai, Bangkok and Manila.
Up to 15 million people in Bangladesh would also be affected.
“The social consequences range from increased religious fervor to outright chaos,” the white paper said. “In this scenario, climate change provokes a permanent shift in the relationship of humankind to nature.”
While the document is not a scientific study, it is based on existing data and comes just months after the latest climate change report from the United Nations.
Released in March, the UN warned that the window for combating what is seen by scientists as the greatest threat to the human race was rapidly closing.
It underscored the growing problem of air pollution, the genocidal extinction of species and dwindling natural resources such as clean water and unpolluted air.
“After nuclear war, human-induced global warming is the greatest threat to human life on the planet,” Chris Barrie, a retired admiral and former head of the Australian Defense Force, said in the forward to the study by the Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration.
“A doomsday future is not inevitable but without immediate drastic action our prospects are poor,” he added.
Shades of Soylent Green and a planet creaking at the seams, engulfed in a cloud of pollution.