The world is facing a series of interlinked emergencies that are threatening the existence of humans, because the sum of the effects of the crises is much greater than their individual impacts, according to a new global study.
Climate breakdown and extreme weather, species loss, water scarcity and a food production crisis are all serious in themselves, but the combination of all five together is amplifying the risks of each, creating a perfect storm that threatens to engulf humanity unless swift action is taken.
The links among the crises are clear in many cases, but the methods the world has chosen to try to solve them do not take account of these connecting factors. For instance, extreme heatwaves can add to global heating, because they release vast amounts of stored carbon from affected ecosystems, in a feedback loop. It has been seen clearly in the Australian bushfires, which are already contributing significantly to the store of carbon in the atmosphere.