Australia21 used a recent visit to Canberra by futurists, Professor Jorgen Randers and Paul Gilding to bring together 14 Australian experts to discuss this issue with them. Randers, one of the authors of the 1972 Club of Rome “Limits to Growth” report, in his recent book, “2052” has concluded that humanity has a 40 year window to avoid the most serious negative consequences of its decades long growth and consumption binge. But he does not think that humans will rise soon enough above their current denial of the seriousness of what is happening and that the world will experience a progressive grinding down of human wellbeing and increasing starvation.
He anticipates that human efforts to constrain greenhouse emissions will be inadequate and that there is a significant likelihood of runaway global heating in the latter part of the twenty first century. His predictions are based on what has happened in the past forty years and his experience that democratic capitalism places enormous impediments in the way of a change from ”business as usual.” Paul Gilding, the author of “The Great Disruption,” on the other hand argues that rather than a steady decline, the human world will, in the next one or two decades, experience shocks of such magnitude arising from our disordered economic system, climate change and peak oil, that they will call forth an emergency crisis response that will enable us to harness human ingenuity to craft a genuinely sustainable future for those humans who survive the shocks.
Both authors are convinced that humans could profoundly ameliorate the greenhouse threat at a very modest economic cost but Randers and many others have grave doubts that global human governance is capable of meeting the challenge.