Traditional economic models have already created substantial challenges. Atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide have been rising steadily since the industrial revolution, leading to global temperature rises that threaten the habitability of parts of the Earth. The average level of warming has now reached 1.2˚C and may reach 1.5˚C by 2027. For some parts of the Earth, that will be catastrophic, leading to the collapse of farming, and significant food and water shortages. The prospect of mass migration away from these regions is becoming ever more real. To better understand, predict and plan for these mass movements will require urgent international attention.23
Mitigation policies could help, such as the development and commercialisation of heat resistant crops and of efficient water management and purification systems based on technologies such as desalination. However, significant adaptation will also be necessary.4 Some economies will need to prepare for a future in which farming is no longer possible. When that happens, people will need alternative forms of work to pay for imported food. That will mean reskilling the workforce. Certain kinds of economic policies can avert severe climate change by introducing measures such as carbon pricing. There is also increasing academic study of how humans can actively intervene, for example by injecting aerosols into the atmosphere to reflect sunlight. Science diplomacy will need to play a crucial role as this option becomes more broadly discussed.