There is a limit to climate breakdown before a runaway effect takes hold. Before then, another limit must be circumvented. If greenhouse gases are not curbed and removed from the atmosphere, we can expect not only a huge financial penalty but worst of all – a human cost.
A new report by the Institute for Economics & Peace, the Ecological Threat Register 2020, says 1.2 billion people could be displaced by 2050 as a consequence of anthropogenic climate change. The report notes that countries facing the most ecological threats are also the world’s 40 least peaceful countries. They include Pakistan, Iraq, India, Afghanistan and Chad among others.
It notes more than half the world’s population (59 countries making up approximately 5.4 billion people) will face severe water stress by 2040, and by 2050, 5 billion people are expected to experience food insecurity. A 2019 report by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) found more than 135 million people already suffer from food insecurity across 55 countries.
A country experiencing severe water stress is categorised where water usage exceeds more than 50% of the available amount. Food insecurity is indicated when 25% of a population is food deficient.
The significance means results predict conflict and civil unrest as a consequence of food insecurity and water stress caused by competition for resources, something that has already been recorded in Syria and Sudan. An inability to adapt alongside anticipated violence mean developed nations will experience “increased influxes of refugees”.
Analysing population growth, droughts, floods, cyclones, water stress and food insecurity the study finds 141 countries are exposed to at least 1 ecological threat by 2050.
“The ETR analyses the levels of societal resilience within countries to determine whether they have the necessary coping capacities to deal with future ecological shocks. The report finds that more than one billion people live in countries that are unlikely to have the ability to mitigate and adapt to new ecological threats, creating conditions for mass displacement by 2050” – ETR
16 countries face no threats. They include United Kingdom, Sweden, Paraguay, Ireland, Lithuania and Switzerland among others.