Canberra, March 22, 2020 – Australia needs urgently to develop a plan to meet the mounting catastrophic risks which threaten the future of human civilization.
This call was made by a new organisation, The Commission for the Human Future, set up by concerned Australians to tackle the complex of threats – such as the corona virus – which now face us.
Commission chairman Professor John Hewson AM said “We are driven by the need to alert Australians to the nature and complexity of ten very serious interacting risks that now confront all human societies, and to develop and apply solutions to them.
“Australia has been slow to act on even major threats like climate change. There is now an opportunity for us to show world leadership in addressing global catastrophic risk. We cannot afford to keep being caught unawares by these predictable crises.”
The impact of coronavirus pandemic and global recession, coming hard on the heels of a bushfire crisis and one of the worst droughts on record shows how catastrophic risks are now piling up in the Earth system, the Commission says.
These risks include:
– Resource loss and depletion
– Extinction of species and decline of the Earth’s life support systems
– Weapons of mass destruction
– Climate change
– Famine and food scarcity
– Global poisoning by human chemical emissions
– Release of uncontrolled and dangerous new technologies
– Uncontrolled population growth and the rise of vulnerable megacities
– Pandemic disease arising from ecological destruction, population growth and mass transport
– Widespread mass delusion about these threats and how they interact.
As a first step in tackling the existential emergency facing humanity the Commission will host an online Round Table on March 28, by courtesy of the Australian National University.
Leading experts from across the country will identify risks and propose integrated solutions and policies for tackling them. Conclusions will be shared with governments, industry, media and the community.
Commission secretary Emeritus Professor Bob Douglas says “The purpose of the round table is to consider how Australia can lead in the management of intersecting catastrophic risks to humanity – several of which are neither widely understood nor being seriously addressed anywhere in the world.
“We will consider all the main threats and how they may affect our future; how Australia can most effectively help to limit them; potential new opportunities that may arise; and how to monitor our progress.”