The long-term future of humanity is in serious doubt.
Three Australian writers - Julian Cribb, Toby Ord and Andrew Leigh - have recently contributed significantly to the world literature on the subject of catastrophic and existential threats to the human species.
A former CSIRO science communicator, Julian Cribb has published a series of books in recent years, including Surviving the 21st Century, Food and War, Poisoned Planet and Earth Detox: How and Why We Must Clean up Our Planet.
In 2020, Australian-born philosopher Toby Ord, who works at the Oxford Future of Humanity Institute, published The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity.
And now we have the recent publication, by Canberra politician and economist Andrew Leigh, of his book What Is the Worst That Can Happen?
The emphasis by the three writers differs, but all are agreed that the threat to long-term human survival is now significant and measurable.
Cribb is the most forthright. He argues that unless we work together globally on these matters, our grandchildren are in a lot of trouble. He makes the point that the following 10 risks are interlinked and must be tackled together in ways that do not make any of them worse:
Nowhere in the world are governments paying these issues the attention they demand.
Australia could be leading the way on global policy for human survival, and it is to be hoped that now Andrew Leigh is in the shadow cabinet, and understands these matters, the issue will be seriously discussed in the forthcoming federal election.
John Hewson, chair of the Council for the Human Future (which includes Julian Cribb), recently wrote to the UN Secretary-General, arguing the need for a new United Nations Office for the prevention of catastrophic risks. The Secretary-General had recently issued warnings about the need to tackle such risks. The reply to Hewson's letter was a request to get Australia's UN representative to propose such a development at a meeting of the UN General Assembly.
So the stage is set, and the opportunity now exists for our next federal government to play a leading global role in the rescue of humanity.
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