Two visions of our future

storm shelter or forestry: Caption at the top: Save Civilization: Stop GHG emissioons, then roll a die. Then two panels: - result: 1, 2, 3: An image of a flooded storm shelter with caption we’re late. Build storm shelter and flood walls. - result: 4, 5, 6: An image of a forest with caption There is still time. Plant lots of trees.
    by Mike Perry (

We still have to stop CO₂ emissions and plant trees to prevent even worse catastrophes, but since 2022 the most likely future is that there will be catastrophes even if we stop CO₂ emissions right now. This is what climate scientists in the past 30 years hoped to prevent. We failed. Now we must fight to avoid even worse outcomes. We are making progress at that, but we must speed up.

Update 2022: As by the WMO, we’re now at 50% within the next 5 years: “⚀ or ⚁ or ⚂” (1 or 2 or 3). “The odds of at least one of the next 5 years temporarily reaching the Paris Agreement threshold of 1.5°C have increased to 50:50. In 2015 the chance was zero.”

Update (2021-09): According to IPCC AR6, we’re now at 50%.

Update 2018-09-03: As by Aengenheyster et al. 2018, we’re now at “⚀ or ⚁” (1 or 2): »However, reaching the 1.5 K target appears unlikely as MM would be required to start in 2018 for a probability of 67%.« MM means getting a 2% increase of the share of renewables every year.

I don’t know what we rolled, but I sure hope it’s not a 1.1

For the robust science behind the green future, see Hansen et al. 2017:

Young people's burden: requirement of negative CO₂ emissions.

If we stop emissions almost completely until 20252 and get lucky (so we only get the moderate part of the likely global warming due to the greenhouse effect), then we can prevent most longterm problems by innovative agriculture and forestry.

This is a time for all of humanity to band together and protect our home world. Even if you would not be willing to bet on not having rolled a 1, please help to cut emissions now. Use a bicycle if you can. Use public transport. If you need a car, buy by CO₂ emissions. Buy power generated from renewable sources. Eat less meat (at most 300g per week). Vote for those who fight to mitigate global warming and keep climate change manageable.

For the robust science behind the bleak future, see Hansen et al. 2016:1

Ice melt, sea level rise and superstorms.

If we don’t get much more active, I’ll soon have to update the bleak future to “⚀ or ⚁” (1 or 2).34

It’s crazy to just imagine the risk taken in the Paris agreement 2015 by targeting up to 1.5°C warming, and that was already the best plausible outcome.

Strip drawn on commission by the awesome Mike Perry ( Licensed cc by. The full source is attached.

There is a german version: Zusammen für Zivilisation.

  1. Not every place will become this uninhabitable. But almost every place will have huge adaptation cost. See Hansen et al. 2016. Let’s hope we rolled a 2-6; and let’s stop ruining our odds. We need to go green. 

  2. This says 2025 to have a number here. The actual paper says “If rapid phaseout of fossil fuel emissions begins soon, most extraction can be via improved agricultural and forestry practices”. The IPCC discusses faster phaseout to have some possible emission left in 2025 for those parts of economy which cannot be changed to renewable sources fast enough. 

  3. The probabilities are from the fifth IPCC report: “Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change”, Chapter 6, Figure 6.14: Probability for staying below 2°C [warming]. 

  4. We would not be the first civilization to fall. The Maya might have gone down due to self-inflicted droughts and famine (more about that by BBC). 

Mike_Perry-comic-roll-a-die-2014-climate.psd11.5 MB
Mike_Perry-comic-roll-a-die-2014-climate-new-text-cropped-1-and-2-and-3.xcf10.52 MB
Mike_Perry-comic-roll-a-die-2014-climate-new-text-cropped-1-and-2-and-3.png2.27 MB
Mike_Perry-comic-roll-a-die-2014-climate-new-text-cropped-1-and-2-and-3-500x725.jpg133.17 KB

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