All articles

2018

Submitted: 5 Dec 2018

Remaking Australia

A recently released vision for a transformed Australia is highly pertinent to thinking about the way we deal with the major threats facing human civilisation.

Australia Remade

Submitted: 26 Sep 2018

Commission on Human Futures proposed

The proposed Australian Commission on Global Futures (CGF) will assist our nation to play its important role in a growing global movement to mitigate a group of threats to the long-term survival and wellbeing of humans on Planet Earth.

Key objectives of the CGF will be to:

• Lift Australian society beyond the dangerous short-termism that currently dominates social and political disourse.

• Alert all Australians to the need to respond to existential threats and to the available ways of dealing with them.

Submitted: 24 Sep 2018

UN Secretary General Sounds alarm

Climate change is the defining issue of our time — and we are at a defining moment, says UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. "We face a direct existential threat. Climate change is moving faster than we are. If we do not change course by 2020, we risk missing the point where we can avoid runaway climate change, with disastrous consequences for people and all the natural systems that sustain us."

Submitted: 4 Aug 2018

Losing Earth

When we had all the warnings at our fingertips, in 1979, we could have acted to save ourselves. But we didn't. And now it may be too late.The NYTimes reports 

Submitted: 3 Aug 2018

We Are All Climate Refugees Now

This summer's fires, droughts, and record-high temperatures should serve as a wake-up call. The longer a narrow and ignorant elite condemns Americans and the rest of humanity to wander aimlessly in the political desert, the more likely it is that we will all end up in a wasteland.

So why does humanity keep plunging dumbly ahead, toward certain tragedy?

Submitted: 6 Jul 2018

Legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment in Australia: useful, redundant, or dangerous?

In a recent PhD thesis [link to https://eprints.utas.edu.au/23438/], Meg Good explores whether legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment would be a useful tool for environmental protection in Australia. The thesis conducts a case study on Australian water resources management, concentrating on one particular rights-based approach, the legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment.

Submitted: 3 Jun 2018

Solving humanity's greatest risks

Address to Royal Society for the Arts Online Conference on Human Survival, by Julian Cribb

Nowadays I find myself meeting more and more people – scientists, concerned grandparents and thoughtful millennials especially – who are wondering aloud whether we are now in the endgame of human history.

Is the 21st century likely to be our last, as a civilization – or maybe even as a species?

Submitted: 2 May 2018

How destroying the environment leads to war.

The degradation of the environment can cause conflict and a reduction in security; or conflict can destroy the resources and services provided by the environment, which also compromises security.

Submitted: 4 Apr 2018

Half the world's buses electric by 2025

Nearly half of the city buses on the road worldwide will be electric within seven years, with China expected to dominate the global market as it aims to cut urban pollution. The total number of electric buses in service is forecast to more than triple, from 386,000 last year to about 1.2 million in 2025, equal to about 47 percent of the worldwide city bus fleet, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance,

Submitted: 4 Apr 2018

Antarctic glaciers retreating

Antarctica's key ocean-front glaciers are retreating, according to a new satellite survey that has raised concerns about the massive continent's potential contribution to rising sea levels. Antarctica contains enough ice to raise the oceans by about 200 feet (60 meters). - Washington Post

 

Submitted: 28 Mar 2018

75% of Earth's land area 'degraded'

More than 75 percent of Earth’s land areas are substantially degraded, undermining the well-being of 3.2 billion people, according to the world’s first comprehensive, evidence-based assessment, National Geographic reports

These lands that have either become deserts, are polluted, or have been deforested and converted to agricultural production are also the main causes of species extinctions.

Submitted: 27 Mar 2018

Climate change is 'suffocating the oceans'

A new study says warming has reduced the oxygen levels in large swaths of the deep ocean, threatening marine life around the world, National Geographic reports.

 

Submitted: 27 Mar 2018

Earth Is Losing Plants And Animals At A Dangerous Rate

Four new scientific reports from the UN reveal that Earth is losing animals and plants at dangerous rates. The reports, by 550 scientists from 100 countries, document the decline in the biosphere in the Americas, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe and central Asia.

Submitted: 25 Mar 2018

Arctic methane crisis

Without urgent action to prevent the release of billions of tonnes of arctic methane, civilization cannot survive, scientists warn.

Carbon content of the atmosphere could increase from 400 ppm today to 800-1,000 they say.

 

Submitted: 23 Mar 2018

Collapse of civilization 'a near certainty'

A shattering collapse of civilisation is a “near certainty” in the next few decades due to humanity’s continuing destruction of the natural world that sustains all life on Earth, according to biologist Prof Paul Ehrlich.

In May, it will be 50 years since the eminent biologist published his most famous and controversial book, The Population Bomb. But Ehrlich remains as outspoken as ever.

Submitted: 21 Mar 2018

Too many mouths

Vision.org commentator David Hulme discusses one of the most imminent of global threats, in this compelling video. 

Submitted: 17 Mar 2018

The Amazon is approaching the point of no return

According to a new study published in the journal Science Advances, the world's forests are reaching a crisis. If deforestation goes beyond 20 percent of its original spread, the Amazon Rainforest will have reached the “point of no return”.

Submitted: 11 Mar 2018

What we're doing to our Planet

25 years ago scientists issued a stern warning to humanity about our impact on the Earth and its life-supporting resources. This paper updates the warning and looks at what we have done since. 

Submitted: 10 Mar 2018

20,000 scientists warn about the future in 'letter to humanity'

A dire warning to the world about its future, which predicts catastrophe for humanity, is continuing to gain momentum. The letter –  released last November – has now been signed by around 20,000 scientists. It has become one of the most discussed pieces of scientific research ever, and its publishers claim it is now influencing policy worldwide.

Submitted: 10 Mar 2018

Can humans survive the 21st Century?

David Hulme interviews UK Astronomer Royal Professor Martin Rees on whether humans will survive the 21st Century.

 

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

How close are we to nuclear disaster?

Image result for nuclear bomb

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

Where have all the insects gone?

An insect perched on a yellow Billy Button wildflower

A global crash in insect populations has found its way to Australia, with entomologists across the country reporting lower than average numbers of wild insects.

University of Sydney entomologist Dr Cameron Webb said researchers around the world widely acknowledge that insect populations are in decline, but are at a loss to determine the cause.

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

Ireland goes for zero emissions

The Government of Ireland has announced it will invest €22 billion to transition the country to a low carbon and climate resilient society, aiming at almost zero emissions by middle of the century.

According to the country’s National Development Plan, the funds are to be primarily deployed to reduce carbon emissions from transport, agriculture and the energy sector, along with flood defenses.

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

'Seas will rise for 300 years'

A striking new study published  in Nature Communications suggests that sea-level rise—one of the biggest consequences of global warming—will still be happening 300 years from now, even if humans stop emitting greenhouse gases before 2100.

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

West Antarctic ice loss speeds up

A NASA study confirms accelerating ice losses from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and reveals surprisingly steady rates of flow from its larger neighbor to the east.

The computer-vision technique crunched data from hundreds of thousands of NASA-U.S. Geological Survey Landsat satellite images to produce a high-precision picture of changes in ice-sheet motion.

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

'One of the world's worst places for deforestation'

Queensland is one of the world’s worst places for deforestation. 1,000 rugby pitches’ worth of forest disappear every day, reports The Economist.

 

Submitted: 25 Feb 2018

The Arctic stews.

The Arctic is stewing in temperatures more than 45 degrees F above normal. This latest huge temperature spike in the Arctic is another striking indicator of its rapidly transforming climate.

Submitted: 24 Feb 2018

Food insecurity

Developing small farms on unused land in urban areas could help alleviate chronic unemployment for refugees resettled in Australia. And improve the sustainability of our food production systems .  

Only 31 per cent of humanitarian visa recipients have jobs after five years, but many have skills as subsistence farmers, which could turn unproductive land into market gardens.

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

Are wildfires shrinking the world's forests?

New evidence shows declining forest resilience to wildfires under climate change.

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

A false picture of human progress

Global politics is based on an outmoded and increasingly destructive model of human progress and development. Can science change a dire situation?

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

The battleship with no crew

World Economic Forum: An experimental anti-submarine drone warship developed by DARPA has officially been transferred to the US Navy's research office. It looks like something out of Star Trek, but for the water.

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

The nitrogen crisis: can we solve it?

Yale Environment, Fred Pearce: More and more nitrogen keeps pouring into waterways, unleashing algal blooms and creating dead zones. To prevent the problem from worsening, scientists warn, the world must drastically cut back on synthetic fertilizers and double the efficiency of the nitrogen used on farms.

More: http://e360.yale.edu/features/can-the-world-find-solutions-to-the-nitrogen-pollution-crisis

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

US 'leading to terminal destruction' warns Chomsky

ABC News: "The most powerful country in history is now leading the way towards what may be terminal destruction," American author Noam Chomsky has warned.

More: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-07/noam-chomsky-talks-donald-trump-nuclear-war-tpp-and-australia/9406072

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

The mutant crayfish that's eating Europe

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

How feedback loops make climate change worse

Yale Climate Connections: "Not only are we directly altering the climate, but that process in itself is kicking off these things that are gonna actually accelerate the damaging impacts over the rest of the century,” says Professor Thomas Crowther.

More: https://www.yaleclimateconnections.org/2018/02/why-feedback-loops-are-troubling/

Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

No Children Because Of Climate Change? Some People Are Considering It

New York Times - Maggie Astor
Add this to the list of decisions affected by climate change: Should I have children?
Submitted: 8 Feb 2018

Accelerating climate solutions

If we rapidly accelerate the solutions we know are possible, we may still avert climate collapse. And we can learn something from the societies that failed,writes Kevin Golden of Climate Solutions.

Full article: https://www.climatesolutions.org/article/1517451150-just-do-it

2017

Submitted: 7 Dec 2017

James Hansen on Climate

Submitted: 5 Dec 2017

Pathways past the precipice

"Humans are facing our greatest test in the million-year ascent of our kind. But this isn’t a single challenge, like a famine or disease outbreak. It is a constellation of ten huge man-made threats, which are now coming together to imperil our stability and future existence.

Submitted: 5 Dec 2017

A Student Group Review on Existential Risk

print copy

Emily Smith, Innie Anidita, Alexander Cox, Caitlin Buckler-Jones and Andrew Luke

Submitted: 5 Dec 2017

Resources and Links

Sources and sister sites:

For much of its material HumansForSurvival.org depends on partnerships with other like-minded news and information sites dedicated to human survival, the health of our planet and the mitigation of existential risks. We share their ideas with full acknowledgement of the source and authorship and provide links to it. Here are some of the more visionary and inspiring sources of information, discussion and solutions to existential threats.

Submitted: 5 Dec 2017

An  ANU Student Project on Existential Threats

As part of a course on real world problems in Sustainability, five senor students at the ANU applied in 2017 to work together, for several weeks on a project on existential threats. Each student read and then prepared a review, which was offered for publication on bookseller websites, of the book "Surviving the 21st-Century" by Julian Cribb.

The five students- Emily Smith, Innie Anidita, Alexander Cox, Caitlin Buckler-Jones and Andrew Luke,  then worked on a joint report for presentation to the rest of their class, which addressed five questions. These questions were:

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Denial of reality

The greatest challenge to human survival may lie, not just in the physical threats we face, but in our own minds.

Our belief in non-material things like money, politics, religion and the dominant human narrative often diverts and weakens our efforts to work together for survival. This has to change.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Techno-Risk

Uncontrolled new technologies like artificial intelligence, killer robotics, biotechnology and universal surveillance also harbour unanticipated threats, as people like Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have warned.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Pandemic Disease

The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies fourteen major pandemic disease threats to the global population: avian influenza, cholera, emerging diseases (e.g. nodding disease), Hendra virus, pandemic influenza, leptospirosis, meningitis, Nipah virus, plague, Rift Valley fever, SARS, smallpox, tularaemia, haemorrhagic fevers (like the Ebola and Marburg viruses), hepatitis and yellow fever. 

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Population

Growth is the human population is expected to continue until at least the late 2060s before reaching a peak, and then commencing a slow decline. The current mid-range forecast is for 9bn in the 2050s, 10bn in the 2060s and 11 bn in the 2090s, if the upward curve is extended.

While most people assume growth is all about the number of babies born and can be easily checked through contraception, in fact growth nowadays is also substantially driven by people in developed and NIC countries living longer lives; this makes it all the harder to control through family planning alone.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Food security

As human numbers build towards 10 billion, population and economic growth will between them will drive a doubling in global demand for food by the 2060s. At the same time the key resources needed to produce food by traditional means are running out: soil, fresh water, wild fish, fertilizer minerals and a stable, reliable climate. 

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Our poisoned planet

Man-made poisons - both intentional chemicals and the toxic waste from mining, manufacturing, transport  and waste disposal - now occur throughout the Earth system, on land, at sea and in the air. The whole of humanity and indeed, all life on Earth, is exposed to an additional 250 billion tonnes of chemical emissions from our activity every year.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Climate’s hidden risk

The release of of a total of 2.9 trillion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and oceans by humanity combined is predicted to drive the planet into a hot phase of +4-5 degrees Celsius above present temperatures. We have already released 1.9 trillion tonnes of that total and are adding a further 50 billion tonnes every year by continuing to burn fossil fuels and clear land.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Climate models indicate it would only require 50-100 Hiroshima-sized (i.e. small) nuclear bombs to end civilisation in a nuclear winter. World stockpiles currently hold around 15,000 such devices, and the risk of their falling into terrorist hands is growing as nuclear materials are stolen, on average, every ten days (IAEA). A new technology-based arms race is underway among the major powers featuring things like pilotless nuclear drones and artificial intelligence. Nuclear conflict remains the most likely route by which civilization may be destabilized and terminated.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Resource scarcity

Not only has the human population quadrupled in the last 100 years, but our personal consumption of resources has grown tenfold. In our lifetime, the average person uses 100,000 tonnes of fresh water, 750 tonnes of soil, 720 tonnes of metals, 5 billion energy units and emits 300 tonnes of greenhouse gas. Key resources are becoming scarce and landscapes worldwide are being ruined to obtain them.

Submitted: 2 Dec 2017

Eco-collapse

Humanity has eliminated more than half the world’s large animals, on land and at sea, in just the last 40 years. Dozens of species vanishing every day due to the pressure of  human activity, in an event now known as the Sixth Extinction. As one of the world’s greatest biologist, E. O. Wilson, warns “We are tearing down the biosphere” – the very thing that supports life on this Planet, including ourselves. Or as young environmentalist Bindi Irwin succinctly puts it “If you keep on pulling one brick after another out of your house, eventually the house falls down.”

Australia21This website was commenced by a group of Members of The Emeritus Faculty at The Australian National University and is administered by a steering group of the not-for profit think tank, Australia21. The views expressed on this website are those of the initial author and are not necessarily shared or endorsed by the University, the Emeritus Faculty or Australia21.

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