COVID-19 has shown that humankind is unprepared for catastrophic threats to the species, a new report from a commission led by ANU experts says.
The Commission for the Human Future report released on Wednesday said governments must respond by planning for the risks posed by pandemics of new diseases and problems caused by climate change.
Humankind must urgently prepare a plan to survive in the face of multiple catastrophic threats, it said.
The commission's report, following a roundtable held at ANU in March bringing together leading experts across health, climate change, economics and public policy, identified 10 potentially catastrophic global risks.
The threats include pandemics, ecosystem collapse, rising food insecurity, nuclear weapons, and global warming.
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COVID-19, emerging without warning, showed how swiftly a catastrophic risk could appear and affect everyone, the commission's chair and ANU professor John Hewson said.
"At present, no government in the world has a plan for meeting all these risks, for dealing with them as a total system and for finding the best and safest way out of them," he said.
"This lack of preparedness means humanity will continue to be ambushed by unforeseen crises."
The world's response to the 10 existential threats would determine whether humankind faced a safe future or the prospect of collapse and even extinction, the report said.
The commission said despite the threats, its message was still one of hope.
"We can turn things around if we can get the right people out in the front, giving the right messages. If we clearly understand the nature and causes of the risks, devise integrated solutions - and take early action to defuse them."
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