How climate change, conflicts could wipe out humans by 2100

The researchers said an increase greater than 3°C could lead to “catastrophic” effects. However an increase of more than 5°C will ‘unknown’ consequences which could lead to the end of life as it is known.

*Phenomena drive hunger as millions of children at risk from malnutrition
*New UN report predicts famine in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, others

If urgent steps were not taken to counter the threat, the human race could be wiped out, before 2100, by catastrophic climate change and rising cases of violent conflicts globally.

According to a study published Sunday in the journal PNAS and first reported by DailyMailUK Online, there is a one in 20 chance humans would be wiped out in the next 100 years as a result of “low-probability high-impact” events.

The researchers said an increase greater than 3°C could lead to “catastrophic” effects. However an increase of more than 5°C will ‘unknown’ consequences which could lead to the end of life as it is known.

Their risk assessment stems from the objective stated in the 2015 Paris Agreement regarding climate change that society keep average global temperatures “well below” a 2°C (3.6°F) increase from what they were before the Industrial Revolution.

The researchers argue that even if that objective is met, a global temperature increase of 1.5°C (2.7°F) is still categorised as “dangerous,” meaning it could create substantial damage to human and natural systems.

The spectre of existential threats is raised to reflect the grave risks to human health and species extinction from warming beyond 5° C, which has not been experienced for at least the past 20 million years.

Also, a new edition of the annual United Nations (UN) report on world food security and nutrition released over the weekend shows that after steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 per cent of the global population. At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide.

According to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, the increase – 38 million more people than the previous year – is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.

According to the report, famine struck in parts of South Sudan for several months in early 2017, and there is a high risk that it could reoccur there as well as appear in other conflict-affected places, namely northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.

Some 155 million children aged under five are stunted (too short for their age), the report says, while 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height. An estimated 41 million children are now overweight. Anaemia among women and adult obesity are also cause for concern. These trends are a consequence not only of conflict and climate change but also of sweeping changes in dietary habits as well as economic slowdowns.

The report is the first UN global assessment on food security and nutrition to be released following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as a top international policy priority.It singles out conflict – increasingly compounded by climate change – as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition.

A professor of climate and atmospheric sciences at the University of California, United States (US), Veerabhadran Ramanathan, said: “When we say five per cent-probability high-impact events, people may dismiss it as small but it is equivalent to a one-in-20 chance the plane you are about to board will crash.”

Researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego have used this analogy to try and illustrate the situation currently facing the planet.

They performed calculations to work out what would happen if temperatures rose by varying degrees between now and 2100.The researchers defined the risk categories based on guidelines established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and previous independent studies.

‘Dangerous’ global warming includes consequences such as increased risk of extreme weather and climate events ranging from more intense heat waves, hurricanes, and floods, to prolonged droughts.

Planetary warming between 3°C and 5°C could trigger what scientists term ‘tipping points’ such as the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and subsequent global sea-level rise, and the dieback of the Amazon rainforest.

In human systems, catastrophic climate change is marked by deadly heat waves becoming commonplace, exposing over seven billion people to heat related mortalities and famine becoming widespread. The existential threats could include species extinctions and major threats to human water and food supplies in addition to the health risks posed by exposing over seven billion people worldwide to deadly heat.

The spectre of existential threats is raised to reflect the grave risks to human health and species extinction from warming beyond 5° C, which has not been experienced for at least the past 20 million years.

Ramanathan and his colleague and former Scripps graduate student Yangyang Xu, now an assistant professor at Texas A&M University, described three strategies for preventing the gravest threats from taking place.

Aggressive measures to curtail the use of fossil fuels and emissions of so-called short-lived climate pollutants such as soot, methane and HFCs would need to be accompanied by active efforts to extract CO2 from the air and sequester it before it can be emitted. The authors also note that most of the technologies needed to drastically curb emissions of short-lived climate pollutants already exist and are in use in much of the developed world. They range from cleaner diesel engines to methane-capture infrastructure.

Heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in their joint foreword to the report said: “Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature.” They stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.

They said: “This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”

They added that even in regions that are more peaceful droughts or floods linked in part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as the global economic slowdown, have also seen food security and nutrition deteriorate.

This is the first time that UNICEF and WHO join FAO, IFAD and WFP in preparing The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report. This change reflects the SDG agenda’s broader view on hunger and all forms of malnutrition. The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, established by the General Assembly, is lending focus to this effort by motivating governments to set goals and invest in measures to address the multiple dimensions of malnutrition.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 has been re-geared for the SDG era and includes enhanced metrics for quantifying and assessing hunger, including two indicators on food insecurity and six indicators on nutrition.The heads of agencies that issued the report are: José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of FAO; Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD; Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF; David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP; Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO.

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