This article discusses whether climate change can cause humans to go extinct.
I [the author] see a lot of resources talking about near-term human extinction, or the fact that thanks to climate change my generation will see the end of humanity. How likely is an outcome like this? Is there any hope for our futures?
This article is part of I Need To Know, a Q&A service for teenagers by The Conversation. Find out how to submit your questions at the end of this article.
The claim that humanity only has just over a decade left due to climate change is based on a misunderstanding. In 2018, a fairly difficult-to-read report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned that humanity needs to cut its carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions in half by 2030, to avoid global warming of 1.5°C above the levels seen before the industrial revolution.
What this actually means is roughly, “We have about 12 years before fixing climate change becomes really expensive and tough.”
Humanity can still live in a world with climate change – it’s just going to be more work, and many lives and livelihoods are likely to be threatened. But it’s complicated, because this century we are facing many problems at the same time, and we are more dependent on each other than ever.