GLOBAL SUSTAINABILITY

New book “Earth For All: a survival guide to humanity”

A new book explores two scenarios exploring how population, economies, resource use, pollution wellbeing and social tensions might change this century based on decisions made this decade. Photo: Patrick Bentley/SolarAid

Landmark global analysis sets out survival pathways for humanity

Story highlights

  • With extraordinary effort the world can stabilise global temperature below 2°C and approach an end to poverty by 2050
  • The book presents the results of a two-year research project, Earth4All and explores two scenarios beginning in 1980 and ending in 2100
  • Earth4All is convened by The Club of Rome, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Norwegian Business School BI

Left unchecked, rising inequality in the next 50 years will lead to increasingly dysfunctional societies, but with extraordinary effort the world can stabilise global temperature below 2°C and approach an end to poverty by 2050.

This is the main message from a new book, Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity published in September 2022. The book, based on a new analysis, has been written by an international team including staff at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University.

“We are standing on a cliff edge,” warned Jorgen Randers, one of the six authors of book and co-author of The Limits to Growth which was published 50 years ago.

“In the next 50 years, the current economic system will drive up social tensions and drive down wellbeing. We can already see how inequality is destabilising people and the planet.”

Limits to growth and planetary boundaries

The book presents the results of a two-year research project, Earth4All, which brought together leading economic thinkers, scientists and advocates, convened by The Club of Rome, the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the Norwegian Business School BI.

Earth4All builds on the legacies of The Limits to Growth and the Planetary Boundaries frameworks.

What is new here, is that we propose a systemic way forward out of the unsustainability lock-ins into a sustainable world.

David Collste, modeller to the book and researcher at the Stockholm Resilience Centre

Owen Gaffney, co-lead of Earth4All and a global sustainability analyst at the Stockholm Resilience Centre added:

“Humanity’s future on Earth will be vastly more peaceful, more prosperous and more secure if societies do everything in their power to transform economic systems this decade than if they do not.”

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, author and co-president of The Club of Rome warned that we are reaching dangerous levels of inequality:

Do we want to create the first trillionaire or do we want to create functional, fair democratic societies? Ultimately, Earth for All is about building societies that value prosperity for all rather than profit for the few on a finite planet fit for the 21st century. Let’s be clear, a more equal society benefits everyone, even the very rich.

Scenarios towards 2100

The book explores two scenarios beginning in 1980 and ending in 2100. These scenarios entitled Too Little, Too Late and The Giant Leap explore how population, economies, resource use, pollution wellbeing and social tensions might change this century based on decisions made this decade.

In the first scenario, global temperatures soar to about 2.5°C by 2100, dangerously high and significantly exceeding the target stipulated in the Paris Agreement:

  • The poorest economies face the most extreme conditions
  • They struggle to adapt to climate impacts with many living in areas that are close to the limits of human habitability
  • All societies will be reeling from rolling shocks of extreme heat, drought, crop failure and floods

In this scenario, the model indicates that regional societal collapse, driven by rising social tensions, food insecurity and environmental degradation, is more likely than today.

The second scenario, The Giant Leap is achievable if societies adopt unprecedented and immediate action across five interconnected turnarounds:

  • Ending poverty through reform of the international financial system, lifting 3-4 billion people out of poverty
  • Addressing gross inequality by ensuring that the wealthiest 10% take less than 40% of national incomes
  • Empowering women to achieve full gender equity by 2050
  • Transforming the food system to provide healthy diets for people and planet
  • Transitioning to clean energy to reach net zero emissions by 2050

Author Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research commented, “Out of hundreds of potential solutions, we have identified five interconnected turnarounds that represent the simplest and most effective solutions that we must start implementing this decade to build economies approaching operation within planetary boundaries by around 2050."

Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity

Authors of Earth for All: A Survival Guide for Humanity

Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Co-President, The Club of Rome and Chair, Economic and Social Impact of Research (ESIR); Chair, Advisory Board, UCL Bartlett School; Senior Associate, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership

Owen Gaffney, global sustainability analyst and writer and head of media at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Analyst and Policy Advisor at the Potsdam Centre for Climate Impact Research, Fellow, Future Earth and Edmund Hillary Foundation

Jayati Ghosh, Development Economist, Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jorgen Randers, Professor Emeritus of Climate Strategy, BI Norwegian Business School, Co-Author of The Limits to Growth

Johan Rockström, Professor in Earth Systems Science; Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

Per Espen Stoknes, Author, Psychologist, Director of the Centre for Green Growth at the Norwegian Business School, previously Member of the Norwegian Parliament.

Published: 2022-09-01