Humanity faces an existential emergency comprising many interlinked catastrophic risks which are now arriving together.
Their collective scale is so great that few grasp it. Together, these risks endanger our ability to maintain a civilization, possibly even to persist as a species.
The basic cause is the sheer scale of the human enterprise: overpopulation, overconsumption, inequality, poor choice of technologies and poor social arrangements.
The crisis is vast, complex and interconnected. It affects everyone on Earth. Dimensions described by speakers at the conference include:
- Decline in the Earth’s resources especially fresh water, but also soil, forests, fish and climatic stability.
- Extinction of species and collapse of ecosystems which support human life on a scale we have never before witnessed.
- We are approaching a point of no return, where the Earth’s climate could go out of control, pitching us into hothouse conditions which can spell disaster for our civilization.
- Despite the lessons of Covid, we are still unable to identify and prevent future pandemics.
- The world food supply rests on a knife-edge, endangered by declining resources and climatic instability.
- The world is facing a freshwater crisis. Millions die preventable deaths and the food supply is increasingly at risk.
- The threat of nuclear war is higher than at any time in our history. Nuclear weapons will be used – unless they are abolished.
- Global poisoning by human chemical emissions is out of control, claiming 13 million lives every year and damaging the biosphere.
- Artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies are poorly understood and even more poorly regulated, posing new threats to society and the human future.
- The human population is growing faster than ever; discussion of ways to alleviate the issue is often silenced.
- Our interconnected social and economic systems are the main cause of the breakdown in global environmental stability. Most countries remain focussed on growth in consumption.
- The current economic model is broken and needs to be replaced.
However, the Conference also concluded that there is much that can be done to curb the danger, limit the threats, reduce the number of lives lost to them – and improve human prosperity and wellbeing as a consequence.
The Conference called on the governments, companies and communities of the world to develop and implement an urgent plan of action that addresses all the risks and their integrated nature.
Speakers also advocated specific measures requiring immediate action, such as:
- The world needs a ‘survival revolution’ on a scale far larger than the ‘industrial revolution’
- If we meet the Paris targets and restore the biosphere, we may be able to stabilize the Earth’s climate. We must aim for net zero carbon emissions worldwide by 2040 at latest.
- We need to reduce consumption and limit our impacts on the natural world which are driving extinction. We need a global plan to restore the environment so it can support all life, including humanity.
- We need a global Clean Earth plan to reduce the man-made chemical poisoning that kills million every year and devastates the environment.
- There must be a universal ban on all nuclear weapons and their materials .
- We must manage freshwater for sustainability and equity. This entails new thinking, improved technologies, better economics, smarter institutions, effective outreach, and partnerships.
- We need a global surveillance and awareness system to defeat future pandemics and health threats. We need health systems which are ‘bottom up’ rather than ‘top down’ delivering healthcare as a human right.
- We can build a renewable, climate-proof food supply for everybody that will increase peace, prosperity, health and repair the environment.
- We need worldwide family planning to reduce human population growth voluntarily, everywhere. We need to discuss this issue openly and respectfully, and normalize the choice of having few or no children.
- We need far better ways to control powerful new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to curb the risks and improve the benefits they offer.
- We need a Green New Deal that reduces inequality, ensures sustainability, triggers investment and transitions economics to a new model of prosperity and abundance.
The Conference agreed that these matters were of the greatest urgency for all – and were not, collectively, receiving sufficient attention and priority from the world’s governments, institutions, corporations, policy and decision makers.
It appealed to the people of the Earth to press for action, and to take it in their own lives, to deliver a safer, fairer human future.
The Conference was hosted in the interests of humanity and our home Planet by:
Council for the Human Future (CHF)
Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere (MAHB)
Common Home of Humanity (CHH)
The Planetary Press