Along with wiping out most of the human population, this could also result in the drowning of port cities like Mumbai, Shanghai, Florida and Lagos. By Shrimayee Thakur

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Australian independent think-tank, Breakthrough National Centre For Natural Restoration has published a report predicting that failure to act to curb pollution could lead to dire consequences. In the bleak future outlined by the paper, 90% of humans will perish and countries like Bangladesh could drown, while cities like Mumbai, Shanghai and Florida would be reduced to swamps.

BNCNR predicts that by 2050, areas in West Africa, tropical South America, the Middle East and South-East Asia could become unfit for life because of deadly heat conditions, which would force over a billion people to become climate refugees. Along with this, the study also predicts that places across the globe could experience 20 days of unbearable heatwaves, saying “Thirty-five percent of the global land area, and 55 percent of the global population, [would be] subject to more than 20 days a year of lethal heat conditions, beyond the threshold of human survivability.”

The BNCNR argues that despite available data pointing to this future, it is being ignored by organisations such as UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which “exhibit a one-sided reliance on general climate models, which incorporate important climate processes, but do not include all of the processes that can contribute to system feedbacks, compound extreme events, and abrupt and/or irreversible changes”. It questions the effectiveness of the Paris Agreement, which aims to cap temperature increase at 3-5℃, saying “3°C of warming already constitutes an existential risk.” A rise in temperature of more than 3°C would have irreversible effects, such as the melting of Arctic permafrost, which would release methane into the environment, along with a rise in sea levels resulting in regions being submerged.

It claims that current measures are not enough to control this rapid degradation, and that previously predicted outcomes are erroneous, as they do not take into account several factors. “We must never forget that we are in a unique situation with no precise historic analogue. The level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is now greater, and the Earth warmer, than human beings have ever experienced. And there are almost eight billion of us now living on this planet.”

There is reason to hope, however, as the study says that this drastic outcome could be avoided if proper steps are taken. It calls for focus on possibilities, instead of probabilities, as there is no historical precedent for this type of disaster: “What is needed now is an approach to risk management, which is fundamentally different from conventional practice. It would focus on the high-end, unprecedented possibilities, instead of assessing middle-of-the-road probabilities on the basis of historic experience.”

Related: This Climate Change Report Is Why You Need To Make Conscious Travel Choices Pronto