Club of Rome Report: Can Humanity Still Be Saved?

This year there were many wildfires in different countries, including Germany.
Boris Rosler / D

The report was published today by the Club of Rome, a research center of more than 30 scientists dealing with the impending overburden of our planet.

According to the report, if we continue our political and economic path, humanity is heading towards increasing inequality

But the authors say: It’s not too late to change our behavior and save the planet. You have five specific suggestions about the “transitions” that must occur for a better future.

50 years ago, the research center Club of Rome shook the world with its report “The Limits to Growth”. Today it is considered the most influential publication on the impending overload of our planet. The research group warned that if the global economy did not change, the economy, environment and quality of life would collapse – and sparked debates that still have an impact today. There is now a new report published in German on Tuesday. “Land for All” is no less than the most important measure by which a worthy future can be achieved for humanity.

It’s not too late – that’s what the report, the result of a two-year research collaboration by several experts, states conclusively. Its descriptions are clear, and the proposed solutions are easy to understand and often very specific. These are key goals that experts consider indispensable – but not impossible to achieve, as the group uses examples of rapid change to illustrate them. We can still get around this in an attractive and optimistic way.

The future depends on the “five extraordinary transformations”.

Data on the state of the land also plays a role in “land for all”, but above all it is about what needs to be done concretely to turn the tide of human development for the better. More than 30 authors explain: “This is a book about our future–the collective future of humanity in this century, to be exact.” This is based primarily on the “five extraordinary aspects” that must be achieved in the coming decades: eradicating poverty, eliminating stark inequality, empowering women, building healthy diets for people and ecosystems, and transitioning to cleaner energy use.

The report’s lead authors are—among many other contributors—Sandrine Dixon-Decliffe, co-chair of the Club of Rome, development economist Jayati Ghosh of the University of Massachusetts, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Earth system scientist Johan Rockström, environmental psychologist Per Espen Stockins of the University of Massachusetts. BI Norwegian Business School, sustainability analyst and author Owen Gaffney and Jürgen Randers, former professor of climate strategy at BI Norwegian Business School.

For the report they used a computer simulation, the “Earth4All” model. From a variety of possible scenarios, two scenarios were selected for the book, titled Too Little Too Late and Giant Leap. Too Little Too Late shows what would happen if the currently dominant economic system continued in one form or another as it has in the past 50 years. “In contrast, Giant Leap wonders what would happen if the economic system was reshaped through bold and extraordinary efforts to build a more resilient civilization.”

What happens if we stay on our current path?

Experts warn that if the current political and economic course is maintained, humanity will move towards increasing inequality. Social tensions are a consequence. In addition, inequality undermines trust and makes it difficult for democratic societies to make long-term collective decisions that benefit all and can therefore be accepted by all. In this case, the average global temperature would rise by more than two degrees, well above the limit negotiated in the Paris Climate Agreement and set by science as a red line, which should not be crossed under any circumstances. Large parts of the Earth system threaten to bypass climatic and ecological tipping points – with inevitable consequences for centuries or even millennia.

Time and time again, experts assert that they see greater equality and justice as a silver lining to a future worth living in. “We know that the richest billion people consume 72 percent of global resources, while the poorest 1.2 billion people consume only 1 percent,” the book says. “So most of the natural resources flow into the consumption of wealthier societies, which, however, bear only a fraction of the consequences – a very unfair situation.” As per the warning. “She prefers conditions that are dangerous for everyone.”

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What the authors say needs to change

Many of the suggestions in the book are very specific. For example, as a minimum target of transformation for greater equality, it is stated that the richest 10 per cent of the country must have less than 40 per cent of the national income. “This means that four poor people together have the same annual income as one person in the group of the richest 10 percent.”

Possible developments in the coming decades are also illustrated by the illusory fate of four girls from China, USA, Bangladesh and Nigeria who were born in the year 2020. One factor plays a major role in the class, which experts also consider very important: an education that teaches critical thinking and complex systemic thinking – For both girls and boys. “Because the most important challenge of our time is not climate change, biodiversity loss or pandemics,” the group said. “The most important problem is our collective inability to distinguish between fact and fiction.”

In democratic societies, disinformation and false information have been curbed, at least to some extent, by the media. But social media has shattered that model. They have created an entire industry of disinformation and disinformation, fueling polarization in societies, a loss of trust and an inability to work together or even agree on basic facts in the face of collective challenges.”

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Only four percent of mammals are terrestrial

The chapter on the need to change diet and agriculture notes that more than 821 million people are currently malnourished – and an “astounding 2 billion” are overweight or obese. By mass, 96 percent of
Mammals on Earth are either humans (36 percent) or livestock
(60 percent)—and only 4 percent of land mammals. In terms of mass, about 70 percent of the birds are farmed poultry. “We live on a planet of chickens.”

Regarding the transformation challenges of the global energy system, it can be read that this must go hand in hand with lower consumption – it is also necessary to reduce the number of smaller and smaller cars. Another challenge is the “very real danger” of social destabilization in the context of the energy system transformation. “When the poorest majority are the hardest hit by rising energy costs, these people will protest energy policies.”

One of the myths in the field of energy transformation is that it is difficult to change people’s behavior. The coronavirus pandemic has just shown that things can change very quickly — and with many advantages. Working from home not only reduces emissions and congestion, but often helps to better juggle work and family life.

Time to change the story: now

“We know what you’re going to say now,” he said at the end of the speech. “The tasks are enormous. The obstacles are enormous. The dangers are enormous. Our time is short.” “Currently. When I criticize this book.”

While the scale of this transformation may seem daunting, there may be good news: The rock may not need to be rolled over a mountain. They wrote that he may already be close to a slope and just need to move, for example with a view to obtaining increasingly cheaper renewable energies. Although the guide presented with Earth is ambitious for everyone, he is also “consistently optimistic”. How likely are we to make it? “That, dear readers, depends on what you do next.”

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hr / dpa

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