Four possible outcomes for the future of the planet

A new report which outlines the best and worst possible scenarios for the future of our planet based on progress towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs), has been published by engineering consultancy group Arup. 

The scenarios have been predicted using data research from think tanks, governments, statistical data, NGOs and research institutions.

The first scenario is ‘Humans Inc’ – if co-ordinated action continues to struggle and global temperatures exceed the two-degree target, then severe weather events will have a detrimental effect on cities and ecosystems.

But in this scenario, technological advancement will have resulted in reduced poverty, improved education and abundant jobs.

‘Extinction express,’ temperatures will have exceeded the two-degree target, and as a result, there is a dramatic decline in the health of the planet and human society.

The next scenario is ‘Greentocracy,’ this involves an improvement in planetary health, the global mean temperature rise remains 1.5 degrees, but this has resulted in severe restrictions on human society and poor living conditions.

The final outcome is ‘Post Anthropocene,’ in this outcome, human society and planetary health exist together. Society only consumes resources at the rate which can be replenished and everyone has a carbon quota.

Josef Hargrave, global foresight manager at Arup, said: ‘The four scenarios that we have projected are each extreme yet plausible.

‘To some, they may seem, alarmist, to others not extreme enough.

‘In every case, they help us to gain a deeper understanding of both the opportunities and threats we are facing over the coming decades and possible pathways towards the future.

‘We have the power to shape our future, but which future do we actually want?’

Jo da Silva, global sustainable development leader at Arup, said: ‘Sustainable development is fundamentally about creating a balance between the needs of a growing world population and the finite resources and health of our planet, our life support system.

‘As engineers, scientists and planners, we all have a responsibility to make sure that the decisions made today have a positive impact on our future.

‘We must act now in our shared quest for a safe, resilient, and resource-efficient world for all.’

Photo Credit – Arup




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