Envisioning a brighter, safer future

25 Jan 2020

The Commission for the Human Future is about building a better world and overcoming the catastrophic global risks that threaten humanity.

Human activity has transformed the world as we know it. Wildfires, floods, droughts, melting ice caps, large-scale extinctions in both the animal and plant kingdoms, shortages of water, loss of soil, forest and sea life combined with rising food insecurity and pandemic disease are raising awareness across all societies that our very way of life is at risk.

Our complex society has evolved in ways that mean the failure of any of the vital systems which make our world function – such as food, energy, water, clean air, a healthy environment – could quickly lead to the collapse of human society itself, trusted and authoritative voices are warning. Many of these catastrophic risks will be upon us much faster even than climate change – and they will impact the entire global community.

Australia is not prepared, as a society, to fully grasp and deal with any of these risks, let alone their combination. Nor are we prepared to capture the many, great benefits that flow from solving them.

A new body to solve risks

The Commission for the Human Future has been set up by concerned Australians to:

  • Alert Australians to the nature and scale of the catastrophic risks now facing human society
  • Help to develop solutions to global catastrophic risks
  • Identify fresh opportunities arising out of the solution of major threats.
  • Promote nationwide dialogue about the risks, their solution and the opportunities that solving them entails.
  • Serve as a knowledge hub for the solution of global catastrophic risks.

The Commission is one of a growing number of bodies around the world dedicated to solving risks and preventing the collapse of society. It will ally and work with these to generate a safer future for humanity and the Planet.

The risks

The main catastrophic risks identified by the Commission are:

  • Decline of key natural resources and the emerging global resource crisis
  • Collapse of ecosystems that support life and the mass extinction of species
  • Human population growth and demand, beyond the Earth’s carrying capacity
  • Global warming, sea level rise and changes in the Earth’s climate affecting all human activity
  • Universal pollution of the Earth system and all life
  • Rising food insecurity and failing nutritional quality
  • Weapons of mass destruction
  • Pandemics of new and untreatable disease
  • Advent of powerful, uncontrollable new technologies
  • Widespread mass delusion about these and related issues.

The Commission recognises that none of these risks can be solved on its own. They are all interlocked and require integrated solutions that make no risk worse.

The task of the Commission

The Commission’s primary task is to identify the risks to the human future, conduct a wide discourse across Australian society about their nature and solution, and to promote the solutions and opportunities to which they give rise.

In particular we will recognise that solutions to the great risks depend not just on government policy and corporations, but also on the actions and behaviour of billions of individual humans in their daily lives.

Much of our present behaviour has to change if civilization is to survive and prosper. We will share not only what society as a whole can do, but what each of us can do personally to curb and remove these risks.  We will empower Australians to build a safer, saner world.

A unique body

Australia at present has no organisation to provide trustworthy, independent advice to government, industry and society about the nature of the combined global catastrophic risks and their solutions.

The Commission for the Human Future will fill that gap by bringing together the nation’s best minds to address the total issue of existential risk – and to identify new opportunities that arise from solving it.

Our purpose

  1. Provide trusted scientific advice to industry, government, media and the Australian public about the nature of all the major risks - and what can best be done to solve, mitigate or adapt to them.
  2. Identify new opportunities for national economic and social growth and sustainability in solving the risks that face us.
  3. Encourage policymaking that addresses all of the major risks we face in an integrated way.
  4. Help build national consensus and engagement on the ways forward in meeting risks and so building new prosperity
  5. Position Australia as a global leader in the new field of global catastrophic risk and its solutions.

Examples of Commission’s proposed work:

  • Conduct round tables of leading Australians from across society to explore and address individual risks
  • Produce plain-language science-based reports on the key risks, their solution and the opportunities it creates.
  • Provide an independent, scientifically-valid source of advice to government, industry and society
  • Promote national discussion of the issues and their solution
  • Partner with like-minded bodies worldwide to ensure consistency and reliability of analysis and advice on key risks.
  • Develop a simple index to inform society of the current state of risk and how it is improving/deteriorating.
  •  serve as a knowledge hub for understanding and solving catastrophic risks.

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ANUAustralia21The Commission is administered by an Independent Board and the website is managed by two board members Julian Cribb and Bob Douglas with assistance from website developer Darryl Seto. The commission grew out of initiatives by The Australian National University and Australia21.

Please select this link to see further details about the Board.