Why does half of humanity still die by about mid-century even if we make the correct global fossil fuel reductions?

Which do you prefer: partial economic collapse now or total economic collapse later, with the bonus of about half of humanity inevitably going extinct either way? 








The global warming dilemma that almost all environmental organizations and governments are hiding from you! We call it Garrett's Climate Dilemma after the professor who first exposed it in his published climate research paper.

In many places on our website, we have mentioned that about half of humanity will die by mid-century and that there's nothing we can do about it because we have wasted 60 years of valid scientific warnings about the climate crisis. This page explains the science behind this dilemma and tragedy and why even if we get close to the correct 2025 global fossil reductions, about half of humanity will have to die by mid-century to save the other half of humanity.

Please be aware that Garrett's Climate Dilemma will be a dominant reason for the extinction of about half of humanity by mid-century. But, by no means will it be the only reason. As runaway global heating worsens, the many other primary and secondary runaway global heating consequences will come into play, killing off large portions of humanity.

A fossil fuel reduction-based global economic collapse and the collapse of global civilization as described below will also equal a global population collapse and the mass extinction of about half of humanity by mid-century. This collapse and extinction process is because:

1. Global mass food production is mainly based on fossil fuels at many levels.

2. We have waited too long (six decades) to fix the climate and runaway global heating. There is now a long chain of unavoidable climate and extinction-related consequences, crossed tipping points, and feedbacks described here, which will ensure the human population is drastically reduced and that we experience widespread global collapse. And, if everything goes wrong and we never really fix runaway global heating, we will experience near-total collapse and extinction. (Near-total extinction means that 50 to 90+ percent or more of humanity could die, but all of humanity will not go extinct for the reasons discussed on this page.



Garrett's Climate Dilemma and the Runaway Global Heating Emergency

Tim Garrett, professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Utah, has researched the physics of atmospheric thermodynamic change (changing air temperatures) over the history of human civilization. His unsettling research indicates the only workable way left in which to avoid irreversible runaway global warming, and its unthinkable extinction-level consequences will involve allowing our fossil fuel-driven global economy to collapse.

His research shows that the laws of physics predict that we will have to go into an immediate economic recession or depression to save the future from irreversible runaway global warming and ourselves from extinction. Most of us are not economists, physicists, or climatologists, so this lesson may seem a little difficult to understand. The following summary of Garrett’s research should help:

  1. The core finding of his research is that maintaining only our current levels of economic production and wealth requires continual energy sustenance and supply. Like a living organism, civilization requires energy to not only grow but also to continue to sustain and maintain its current size or wealth.

  2. In today’s terms, this also means that any additional economic production (wealth) equals more carbon emissions from burning fossil fuels. Conversely, fewer carbon emissions from less fossil fuel burning equal less economic production (wealth).

  3. The fixed and direct link between energy sustenance and the additional production of more wealth means that the existence of a financially measurable and viable economy cannot be decoupled from a continuing rise in its energy consumption.

  4. This means that contrary to current popular global heating prediction theories, neither population size nor the population’s standard of living has to be included in the computer modeling for the predictions on what will happen in the future with a growing or shrinking economy and the amount of carbon dioxide that will go into the atmosphere affecting global warming. (Garrett's realization was that global warming is directly linked closely to the increased or decreased carbon levels of increased or decreased Gross Domestic Product [GDP].)

  5. Global atmospheric carbon dioxide emission rates conversely also cannot be unlinked from economic production (wealth) through new or predicted gains in energy efficiency. Greater energy efficiency does not invalidate Garrett’s research demonstrating that greater production (wealth) always equals greater atmospheric carbon dioxide emissions. Also, to consider here are the reverse conservation effects of Jevons’ Paradox.

  6. According to Garrett’s research, even a 50% reduction in total fossil fuel use over the next 50 years will not be enough to keep us below carbon 425-450 ppmv. [See footnote 96.] (425-450 ppmv is of itself a very unsafe level.) Even with this 50% reduction, we will still hit 600 ppmv by the year 2100 (or sooner) and pass three of the four final extinction-triggering climate tipping points. See this page to understand what 450-500 ppmv or 600 ppmv will mean to your future. (Job One has this plan to keep us from crossing this mass extinction dangerous carbon 425-450 ppm level. (Click here for more information on the nightmare we create for ourselves when we cross the 425-450 ppm range, which is the first extinction-triggering tipping point.) 

  7. Keeping carbon emissions at or below the already unsafe level of carbon 450 ppmv will not be achieved by any conservation, increased energy efficiency, or other gradual fossil fuel reduction tactics currently being implemented. To maintain our current standard of living with our growing population without further exacerbating global warming, a new, non-carbon polluting nuclear power plant would have to be built every day. Because this is not currently happening and, in fact, is impossible (even if it was a desirable solution), the only remaining solution to radically reducing fossil fuel use is economic collapse.

  8. For atmospheric CO2 concentrations to remain below 450 ppmv, Garrett’s research suggests there will have to be some combination of an unrealistically rapid rate of energy decarbonization (reduction of fossil fuel use) and its consequent and near-immediate reductions in global wealth. Effectively, it appears that civilization may be in a double-bind dilemma. If civilization does not collapse quickly this century, then CO2 levels will likely end up exceeding 1000 ppmv. At the same time, if CO2 levels exceed 1,000 ppmv, [See footnote 97.] then civilization will gradually tend toward total collapse. (For more about Garrett’s research on the physics of long-run global economic growth issues, click here.   Click here to see the many detailed primary and secondary climate and other consequences that will bring about the collapse of civilization much sooner than 2100, long before carbon 1,000 ppmv is reached.   [See footnote 98.]) 

  9. Garrett also does not envision that we will ever be able to reduce carbon emissions fast enough. In his paper “No Way Out,” [See footnote 99.], he says that “reducing carbon emissions may be a bit like asking an adult to once again become a child. Over millennia, we have collectively built an enormous global infrastructure designed to consume massive amounts of energy. Without destroying this infrastructure, energy will continue to be consumed. Without energy, the circulations and transactions defining the global economy stop. And because so much of this infrastructure is tied to fossil fuel consumption, our economy is wedded to carbon emissions.”

  10. Although it is counter-intuitive, Garrett also states energy consumption rates can rise about twice as fast with rapid decarbonization (fossil fuel use reductions) as with no decarbonization. The reason is that decarbonization aids society's health by limiting global warming. Better health means greater energy consumption, which then leads to a partial offset of any environmental gains that came from decarbonizing in the first place. (Going green is a form of global decarbonization.)

  11. In addition to the many Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Changes (IPCC) errors described on this page, Garrett also turned his new prediction model on the IPCC’s global warming predictions and discovered two major errors. He demonstrated that the IPCC’s current global warming prediction scenarios substantially underestimate how much carbon dioxide levels will rise for a given level of future economic prosperity and wealth. The two reasons for the IPCC errors are that global carbon dioxide emission rates cannot be unlinked from economic production and wealth creation through any efficiency gains the IPCC uses, and our continuous future global warming can be expected to act as a significant inflationary drag on the real growth of wealth. Because neither of these two essential economic factors was properly accounted for within previous IPCC prediction scenarios, the IPCC has, once again, substantially underestimated the relationship of projected future increased prosperity to increased carbon dioxide levels. By forwarding this rosy and false belief that economic prosperity can be maintained while dramatically reducing fossil fuel use, it seems the IPCC was trying to “have its cake and eat it too.” These serious miscalculations by the IPCC mean their predictions are even more unreliable than has been disclosed on this website here and in Chapter 7 of the new Climageddon book. This also means most of the world has no idea how bad the current global warming emergency really is or that to solve it, we will have to go through a massive global economic downturn. 



Garrett does give us some hope in his research for a possible solution when he mentions that if civilization’s ability to adapt to rising global warming and its consequences is extremely low, “...then only a combination of rapid civilization collapse and high decarbonization comes close to achieving a 450 ppmv goal.” [See footnote 100.] (Here, rapid civilization collapse refers directly to the rapid reduction of all fossil fuel use.)

Garrett’s unsettling research can also suggest that the only remaining possible way that we may be able to maintain or go below the carbon 450 ppmv target [See footnote 101.] to avoid irreversible runaway global warming and keep our economy going fairly well is:

    sudden and drastic global fossil fuel use reductions, and simultaneously all,
  • nations immediately and fully switch to non-carbon-dioxide-emitting green power generation sources. (Neither of which is currently happening, and according to the new MIT research, we will not be able to scale up green energy generation anywhere close to the timeframe needed.)

It appears Garrett may not believe we currently have either the technical ability and/or the political will to enact the painful solution to replace our fossil fuel energy consumption in time to avoid the worst consequences of runaway global warming. He states that “as the current climate system is tied directly to its unchangeable past, any substantial near-term departure from recently observed acceleration in carbon dioxide emission rates is highly unlikely.”

“Anyone wishing to see what is to come should examine what has been.” —Machiavelli

This creates a real double-blind dilemma. If we can't scale up a full global green energy generation replacement in time while we are also making all of the required global fossil fuel reductions, the steep crash of the global economy will financially destroy us. If we continue as we are now, and civilization does not collapse quickly (within this century), carbon dioxide levels will likely exceed carbon 600-1,000 ppmv and condemn us to the last near-total extinction phases of runaway global warming.

Assuming Tim Garrett’s research is correct about how the gross world product (GWP) and civilization’s accumulated wealth is intrinsically and directly linked to the total carbon levels present in the atmosphere, without building a nuclear reactor every day, or fully scaling up global green energy generation to replace all global fossil fuel reductions, (both of which are impossible) our only remaining solution is to let the economy crash in stages now or completely collapse later, bringing most of the civilization down with it.

Ethically, this is a simple choice, but in reality, it is a logistic nightmare. How do we educate the people of the world that to save the future and future generations, they must now expect less, have less, and be less economically comfortable?

In a world that has already conditioned us to demand and expect more, the message that we must all make painful sacrifices for the survival of future generations and civilization will be a very hard sell. This educational task might be nearly impossible because it requires a degree of personal maturity to delay immediate self-gratification for a collective reward in the future. It is completely unrealistic to think most people will voluntarily make the required and painful sacrifices without enforcement by the world's governments.  

Very few individuals, non-profit ecological organizations, corporations, or nations are ready to hear this tough runaway global heating solution message, much less act upon the drastic 2025 global fossil fuel reductions we now need to make. But this is exactly what we all need to hear, begin discussing, and start preparing for and doing to survive. 

Although many new jobs and businesses will be created by transferring to green energy generation, these new sources of revenue will not protect the economy from the loss of old fossil fuel industry-related jobs and businesses. As we ride out the coming economic hardships and transition from reliance on fossil fuel energy generation to green or other safer energy generation, we will have to learn somehow to accept these harsh financial and other realities.

There is both bad news and good news in Garrett’s research. The bad news is that if we don't radically reduce fossil fuel use at an exponentially rapid rate (as described in the correct 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets), which currently sustains a viable rising economy, our atmospheric carbon ppm concentrations will continue to rise. We will continue moving toward the later near-total extinction phases of runaway global warming.

This mass die-off is primarily because modern agriculture completely depends on fossil fuel fertilizers and equipment running on fossil fuels. When these items are no longer available, we will be unable to produce nearly enough food for our ballooning global population. 

Here again, is the political dilemma. If we do not cut global fossil fuel use to get close to the 2025 targets, we will begin to experience many of the primary and secondary consequences described on this page, and about 50% of the global population will die by mid-century. If we do cut global fossil fuel use to get close to the 2025 targets, about 50% of the global population still dies by mid-century due to the collapse of fossil fuel-driven modern agriculture.

The good news is that we can eventually secure a prosperous economy and a safe future if we persuade our politicians to realize there will be no possible long-term economic prosperity or a future for about 50-90+% of humanity without immediate and radical fossil fuel reductions and the other government actions described on this page.

In summary, Garrett's research points toward the unbearable idea that the short-term collapse of our economy and the death of about 50% of the world's population due to the loss of fossil fuels) by about mid-century may become a required action if we are going to save ourselves from an unthinkable global warming catastrophe. If you still don't believe this is valid and you are scientifically minded, take a look at Garrett’s paper called “No Way Out. [See footnote 102.] (Be sure to go to the end of his study after the references and also look at his many prediction graphs.)



We are caught in a terrible transitional energy, economy, and survival dilemma. Because there is no quick global green or other energy generation transitional fix, the only way out is that we must drastically cut fossil fuel use now, and we will suffer severe financial hardship and a massive loss of life. If we don't drastically cut fossil fuel use now, we will suffer far greater than just financial hardship in the too near future. If we do not get close to the 2025 fossil fuel reduction targets, we will experience not just the loss of about half of humanity by mid-century, we will experience near-total human extinction (as much as 50 - 90+% of humanity.)

If the economy is going to have to go into a steep recession or depression no matter what to save us, it is wiser to get the needed painful changes out of the way as quickly as possible and save the future for our children and future generations.

Other Key Facts and Observations

  1. As of 8.23.2022, we are currently not making anything even close to the required radical cuts in fossil fuel use to reduce the carbon going into our atmosphere to prevent massive global temperature increases, horrendous climate calamities, and far sooner than imagined extinction. A 2017 research paper in Science lead-authored by Johan Rockström, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, concluded that global carbon emissions would have to be cut in half by 2020, then cut in half again by 2030, and then cut in half again each decade out to 2050 to keep us safe. This means that In order for us to keep global temperature anywhere even close to levels where most of humanity can survive, fossil fuel emissions need to be slashed by about 75 percent by 2030, and by nearly 95 percent by 2050 to stay within a safe climate zone. (Please see the correct 2025 global fossil fuel reductions here. The 2017 study did not account for all needed fossil fuel reductions.)
  2. To grasp how difficult these cuts will be, imagine that in the next three years, you personally will have to cut all of your home, auto, and business uses of fossil fuels by 50%, then cut another 50% from that point within the next 10 years and then cut another 50% in each of the following decades. Citizens of the world who did not fully understand both the urgency and importance of why they needed to make these radical, immediate, and painful sacrifices would literally throw out any politician or even overthrow governments who tried to enforce these kinds of radical energy and fossil fuel usage cuts to their current comfortable or subsistence lifestyles and livelihoods. 
  3. It is highly improbable we will ever make the critically needed cuts to our fossil fuel use. There are several reasons for this. One is that each year we delay making these needed radical fossil fuel usage cuts means that any future cuts will need to be even more extreme, which makes them even less likely to be done because of the even worse immediate hardship they will impose globally. Secondly, because of Professor Garrett's Global Warming Dilemma, which you have read in the article above.

But, there is still hope and many things you can do to help create a better world.

Click here to learn about the Job One, Plan B for how to prepare for, adapt to, and slow and lessen the runaway global heating extinction emergency.


1. Garrett's Climate Dilemma will be a dominant reason for the extinction of about half of humanity by mid-century. But, by no means will it be the only reason. As runaway global heating worsens, the many other primary and secondary runaway global heating consequences will come into play, killing off large portions of humanity.

2. Sooner or later, our politicians will decide to radically cut global fossil fuel use by enforced rationing simply because the outcome of not doing so would be unthinkable, and nothing else has worked for 60 years. This means that you, your family, and your business need to get busy with your Plan B preparations and adaptations to decide for yourselves in which half of humanity you will fall.

3. (Click here for more information on the nightmare we create for ourselves when we cross the 425-450 ppm range, which is the first extinction-triggering tipping point.) 


Please note this article and footnotes below are from the book Climageddon which discusses the Garrett Global warming dilemma at length.

96 Note: ppmv is different from carbon parts per million (ppm and CE carbon equivalent, CO2e). The distinction is that ppmv is used to describe all trace gases found in the atmosphere, such as sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other pollutants, by volume.

97 Tim Garrett, interview by Alex Smith, Radio Ecoshock, October 19, 2011, transcript. http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/climate2010/ES_Garrett_101119_LoFi.mp3

98 Tim Garrett. "The physics of long-run global economic growth." Utah.edu. 2014. http://www.inscc.utah.edu/~tgarrett/Economics/Economics.html

99 Tim Garrett. "No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change." arXiv. January 9 2012. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1010.0428v3.pdf

100 Tim Garrett. "No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change." arXiv. January 9 2012. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1010.0428v3.pdf

101 Note: ppmv is different from carbon parts per million ppm and CE carbon equivalent, CO2e. The distinction is that ppmv is used to describe all trace gases found in the atmosphere such as sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and other pollutants by volume.

102 Tim Garrett. "No way out? The double-bind in seeking global prosperity alongside mitigated climate change." arXiv. January 9, 2012. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1010.0428v3.pdf


Updated 8.23.2022




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