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New paper says that cascading environmental risks could lead to societal breakdown

A new paper from the UK Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) says that the world is facing ‘a new domain of risk’ with cascading environmental risks potentially leading to severe impacts on human systems from local to global levels.

The paper, entitled ‘This is a crisis: Facing up to the age of environmental breakdown’ says that “mainstream political and policy debates have failed to recognise that human impacts on the environment have reached a critical stage, potentially eroding the conditions upon which socioeconomic stability is possible”. The consequences of the age of environmental breakdown on societies and economies are “more serious than is recognised by mainstream political and policy debates”.

Human-induced environmental change is occurring at an unprecedented scale and pace and the window of opportunity to avoid catastrophic outcomes in societies around the world is rapidly closing, warns the paper:

“All in all, a new, highly complex and destabilised ‘domain of risk’ is emerging – which includes the risk of the collapse of key social and economic systems, at local and potentially even global levels. This new risk domain affects virtually all areas of policy and politics, and it is doubtful that societies around the world are adequately prepared to manage this risk.

“Due to the high levels of complexity, the scale of breakdown and systemic nature of the problem, responding to the age of environmental breakdown may be the greatest challenge that humans have faced in their history.”

Read the paper (PDF).



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