Global warming could trigger nuclear war, financial crisis or extinction-level pandemic by 2070

With global temperatures continuing to rise, a new study has warned that we are inching dangerously close to a ‘climate endgame’.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge claim that global heating could trigger nuclear war, financial crisis or an extinction-level pandemic as soon as 2070.

Based on their findings, the researchers are calling for authorities to start preparing for such events.

‘There are plenty of reasons to believe climate change could become catastrophic, even at modest levels of warming,’ said Dr Luke Kemp, lead author of the study.

Researchers from the University of Cambridge claim that global heating could trigger nuclear war, financial crisis or an extinction-level pandemic as soon as 2070 

The ‘four horsemen’ of the climate endgame 

The researchers propose that research is needed in four key areas, which they call the ‘four horsemen’ of the climate endgame.

These are famine and malnutrition, extreme weather, conflict, and vector-borne diseases.

Global food supply is at threat amid rising temperatures, with increasing risk of ‘breadbasket failures’ as the world’s most agriculturally productive areas suffer ‘collective meltdowns’, according to the researchers.

More extreme weather could also create conditions for new disease outbreaks, as habitats for both people and wildlife shift and shrink.

Meanwhile, the risk of ‘interacting’ threats such as democratic breakdowns and new forms of destructive AI weaponry is also likely to increase alongside rising temperature.

For example, the researchers say that ‘warm wars’ could become common, in which technologically enhanced superpowers fight over both dwindling carbon space and giant experiments to deflect sunlight and reduce global temperatures.

‘Climate change has played a role in every mass extinction event. It has helped fell empires and shaped history. Even the modern world seems adapted to a particular climate niche.

‘Paths to disaster are not limited to the direct impacts of high temperatures, such as extreme weather events. 

‘Knock-on effects such as financial crises, conflict, and new disease outbreaks could trigger other calamities, and impede recovery from potential disasters such as nuclear war.’

In the study, the team used modelling to estimate the consequences of 3°C (5.4°F) warming and beyond.

Their estimations indicate that areas of extreme heat where annual average temperatures are over 29°C (84°F) will cover two billion people by 2070.

Worryingly, these areas are some of the most politically fragile, as well as the most densely populated, according to the team.

‘Average annual temperatures of 29 degrees currently affect around 30 million people in the Sahara and Gulf Coast,’ said co-author Chi Xu of Nanjing University.

‘By 2070, these temperatures and the social and political consequences will directly affect two nuclear powers, and seven maximum containment laboratories housing the most dangerous pathogens.

‘There is serious potential for disastrous knock-on effects.’

The researchers propose that research is needed in four key areas, which they call the ‘four horsemen’ of the climate endgame.

These are famine and malnutrition, extreme weather, conflict, and vector-borne diseases.

This map shows the overlap between state fragility, extreme heat, and nuclear and biological catastrophic hazards

This map shows the overlap between state fragility, extreme heat, and nuclear and biological catastrophic hazards

Earth Overshoot Day is earlier than EVER  

Humans have already used a year’s worth of natural resources in 2022 – a calendar event known as Earth Overshoot Day. 

The annual date marks the point at which humanity has used all the biological resources that the Earth can regenerate during that year. 

But in 2022 it’s earlier than ever before, largely due to a demand for food, land, timber and new urban infrastructure to cater to a growing population. 

Demand for these resources outstrips the Earth’s biocapacity – its ability to renew those resources – meaning we now effectively have gone into overdraft. 

It also means we’ve outstripped the planet’s annual capacity to absorb waste products such as carbon dioxide. 

Co-author Professor Kristie Ebi from the University of Washington said: ‘We need an interdisciplinary endeavour to understand how climate change could trigger human mass morbidity and mortality.’ 

Global food supply is at threat amid rising temperatures, with increasing risk of ‘breadbasket failures’ as the world’s most agriculturally productive areas suffer ‘collective meltdowns’, according to the researchers.

More extreme weather could also create conditions for new disease outbreaks, as habitats for both people and wildlife shift and shrink.

Meanwhile, the risk of ‘interacting’ threats such as democratic breakdowns and new forms of destructive AI weaponry is also likely to increase alongside rising temperature.

For example, the researchers say that ‘warm wars’ could become common, in which technologically enhanced superpowers fight over both dwindling carbon space and giant experiments to deflect sunlight and reduce global temperatures.

‘The more we learn about how our planet functions, the greater the reason for concern,’ said co-author Prof Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

‘We increasingly understand that our planet is a more sophisticated and fragile organism. 

‘We must do the math of disaster in order to avoid it.’

Professor Kemp concluded: ‘We know that temperature rise has a “fat tail”, which means a wide range of lower probability but potentially extreme outcomes. 

‘Facing a future of accelerating climate change while remaining blind to worst-case scenarios is naive risk-management at best and fatally foolish at worst.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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