What's Most Likely in Your Lifetime: Will Runaway Climate Change & Global Warming Cause Mass, Near-Total, or Total Extinction?

Our runaway global heating emergency will have horrible consequences. These consequences are so bad there is no need to exaggerate them. 


Understanding the differences between a runaway global heating-driven mass extinction, a near-total extinction event, and a total extinction event is essential to answer the question in the headline of this article.

This article will not only clarify those differences. It will also strengthen or restore a rational, balanced, and scientifically appropriate hope for our runaway global heating future.

The different levels of a runaway global heating-driven extinction are defined as:

  1. We have been so grossly ineffective in slowing and reversing global heating for so long that about half of the human population will die by mid-century. This mass extinction is unavoidable because of our 60 years of climate inaction, ineffective action, and denial. 
  2. A global heating-driven near-total human extinction is a scenario where as much as 50-90+% of humanity could go extinct before we slow and reverse the current runaway global heating. (The processes of near-total extinction is partially described in the first three extinction-accelerating tipping points on this page and then on this page.)
  3. A global heating-driven total human extinction can only occur if we allow carbon levels in the atmosphere to rise to 800 to 1700 parts per million (ppm). At those levels, we risk our atmosphere being pulled out into space and 100% of everything else that depends upon oxygen suffocating and going entirely extinct. 

Fortunately, long before we reach those extreme carbon 800-1700 atmospheric carbon ppm levels, Mother Nature will step in with very tough medicine. Her excruciating intervention may result in close to a near-total extinction, but not total extinction!

We will not all go extinct because Mother Nature's "tough medicine" will intensify in lockstep with the increasing severity, frequency, and scale of many of the primary and secondary consequences of global heating described in detail on this page.

In the end, it may be the powerful remedial counteractions of Mother Nature and not our own remedial actions that ultimately saves us from ourselves.

Why total human extinction is unrealistic and highly improbable 

The Job One research team must humbly admit that we too failed to fully allow for the appropriate compensatory weighting for several natural climate destabilization counteractions in our previous global heating research analysis. These natural counteractions intrinsically respond to and act to powerfully counter our rapidly worsening climate systems and subsystems.

This generally unacknowledged underestimation error has also been a significant problem in other researchers and organizations' current global heating predictions. This underestimation issue is crucial because it creates a significant error in runaway global warming extinction predictions. Nevertheless, numerous researchers have been convinced and maintain that humanity faces an inevitable climate change-driven total extinction. 

This article discusses why Job One for Humanity has revised its materials on the runaway global heating driven mass, near-total, or total extinction controversy.

Previously the Job One for humanity organization held this could only true if we did not get close to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets. However, based on a new analysis by Job One on the factors listed below, we now believe that while the extinction of about half of humanity by mid-century is still unavoidable, total human extinction caused by primary and secondary global heating consequences likely occurring from about 2050 to 2080 (or sooner) is neither probable nor likely.

Based on our new analysis that now includes previously ignored or discounted both natural and human counteractions, we still predict that if we can get close to the 2025 targets, humanity will, at worst, only face a near-total extinction. Before we go over the critical natural and human counteractions to runaway global warming that can potentially save 50 to 90+% of humanity (even if we don't fix runaway global heating in time.)

One helpful way to think about these counteractions is to know that the more you increase the "costs" of some action, the more likely the effects of those "costs" will cause and bring into being counteractions. This principle is like the Newton's 3rd law that "for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." This corrective and counteracting process will become more apparent as you review the many rising "costs" of our runaway global heating consequences and the increased likelihood that natural and human counteractions will eventually mitigate those costs.

Natural counteractions that have been seriously under-estimated in the previous climate and global heating predictions

In our newest analysis of future runaway global heating consequences, we discovered that many discounted or omitted natural and human dialectical counteractions would also occur. This discounting and omission issue has resulted in even more individuals and groups predicting we are in an inescapable and inevitable runaway global heating-driven total human extinction process. Some individuals and groups have said that total human extinction will occur in as little as the next 9-10 years. 

An actual global heating-driven total extinction event can only occur if we put so much greenhouse gas into the atmosphere that our atmosphere is ripped off into space. Unfortunately, this is what happened to Venus because of ever-rising global temperatures. 

The strange but good news here on Earth is that total extinction will be prevented because so much of humanity will be long dead before we ever get to the extreme levels of atmospheric greenhouse gas, which could cause total human extinction.

To help you understand what those predicting inevitable total human extinction have missed or underestimated, it is necessary to start with the natural counteractions that "Mother Nature" will activate as runaway global heating worsens. The following natural counteractions are the only counteractions that of and by themselves alone have the power to save humanity from its own lousy fossil fuel decisions and actions. But there is mixed bad and good news about fixing the incorrect total extinction prediction failure by including the effects of these natural counteractions issues properly:

Here is the mixed news:

  1. The death of half of humanity by mid-century is still unavoidable. We ignored six decades of valid scientific warnings and have been totally ineffective in slowing accelerating runaway global heating. 
  2. Because of natural counteractions to rising global temperatures in the climate's systems and subsystems, we can still save most of the other 50% of humanity (but only if we get close to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets as soon as possible.)
  3. Even if we widely miss the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets, Mother Nature's counteracting climate-related primary and secondary consequences will soon accelerate exponentially. This will ensure ALL of humanity does not perish. (If we miss the targets, there will just be far less of us than if we got close to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets.)

On the one hand, at this point, you may be wondering how Mother Nature will "allow" a mass or even a near-total human extinction to occur while, on the other hand, still "preventing" us from going totally extinct? It is because of a dialectical twist of evolutionary fate. 

How Mother Nature's natural counteractions, consequences, and systems will be the dominant force saving humanity from itself and total extinction

Complex adaptive systems have "harmful" feedback loops and tipping points that can make the system worse, more unstable, or eventually crash. On the other hand, complex adaptive systems also have "helpful" countering feedback loops and tipping points that at specific points can trigger and make the climate system better, and more stable and eventually restore the system to equilibrium or near-equilibrium. 

Although most of the most prominent "harmful" climate feedback loops and tipping points are known, most of the "helpful" natural climate feedback loops and tipping points are still unknown. This is because humanity has never studied anything like what is happening to us with our current runaway global heating emergency. But rest assured, these "helpful" feedback loops and tipping points are there because we have seen these "helpful" feedback loops and tipping points gradually restoring other harmed or crashed ecological systems back into new equilibrium states. 

We have observed many predator-prey ecological systems that have nearly collapsed and then rebalanced once again using new processes involving new feedback loops and different tipping points that push the system back closer to its original equilibrium. This same "helpful" feedback loop and tipping point rebalancing mechanism exists within the climate's systems and subsystems.

These helpful tipping points and feedback loops can also help control the speed and damage levels of the runaway global heating extinction emergency. And then, at some point, they can trigger into action, further assisting Mother Nature in beginning the restoration and rebalancing process and doing what is necessary to preserve the critical conditions for humanity to exist. 

Here is how those counteraction processes look for our future.

Mother Nature's counteractions are as follows:

  1. In perfect lockstep with our rising global heating, Mother Nature's immutable laws of climate physics will continue ratcheting-up ever-intensifying climate and global heating-related consequences to kill off hundreds of millions of us and then billions. The initial main ways Mother Nature will kill us off will be through low crop yields, crop failures, and soaring crop prices. Global crops will fail or be stunted because of global warming aggravated heatwaves, rain bombs, droughts, flooding, wildfires, out-of-season cold spells, hail, Derechos (severe wind storms), and other extreme weather which destabilizes normal growing season conditions. The world's five principal grains (rice, wheat, maize [corn], millet, and sorghum) are particularly vulnerable to climate-caused massive crop failure. This global heating-related crop failure occurs when temperatures (heat waves) are near or above 100 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 days during the regular growing season. Increasing starvation always increases mass migration to wherever there is more food. These hunger-driven mass migrations will cause more local, regional, and national conflicts, creating a new amplifying feedback loops of even more mass starvation, soaring food prices, economic instability, and more conflict. As these starvation and migration conflicts grow in food-growing and producing countries, food production also will drop because of the many food-growing and transportation disruptions caused directly or indirectly by those expanding conflicts.
  2. This massive kill-off will continue unabated until there are so few of us left that humanity is no longer capable of raising or maintaining global temperatures by burning so much fossil fuel. 
  3. The minimal critical point at which Mother Nature will stop killing us is when she has killed enough of us, so global fossil fuel use goes down. No additional greenhouse gases (carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide) are being added to the atmosphere. 
  4. Mother Nature's final kill-off stage is where so little additional greenhouse gas is being added to the atmosphere by remaining survivors that the atmosphere has the opportunity to start naturally removing existing greenhouse gases. 

The simplicity of what Mother Nature is doing is just taking the naturally and already occurring consequences of accelerating runaway global heating and then using the results of those consequences to eventually slow and reverse those consequences. 

How long will it take for Mother Nature to kill off enough of us to save the rest of us?

Unless our governments mass mobilize and come close to the 2025 targets soon, the critical point where Mother Nature stops managing rising greenhouse gases by killing us off will likely be well into the second half of the 21st century. On the other hand, if we get close to the 2025 targets soon, Mother Nature might stop killing us off far closer to 2050-2060.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature may likely keep killing us off with more intense global heating consequences beyond just the number of us she needs to kill us off to stop adding more greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere by the remaining population. Unfortunately, predicting helpful natural system tipping points and feedback correction timeframes is not currently possible for complex adaptive systems as complex as natural systems interacting with human systems.)

The natural kill-off process is not a theory. We have already seen Mother Nature's global heating kill-off counteractions. Mother Nature is already directly or indirectly killing off tens of millions of us each year from only our current level of runaway global heating consequences. 

Overall, Mother Nature's global heating kill-off counteractions are a measure of positive news for anyone who has worried that there is no hope for humanity and our civilization. 

In the first illustration below, the blue line represents rising primary and secondary runaway global heating consequences. These rising consequences will cause the climate and other systems within Mother Nature to keep killing off more and more humans (the green line) until humans are no longer capable of overheating the Earth by burning fossil fuels. About mid-century (2050) is when we estimate the lines will cross and about half of humanity will have perished and the die-off will start slowing down.


In the second illustration below, one can see that the more of humanity that dies the green line the more that global fossil fuel will fall the blue line.



How human system counteractions will also be a contributing force helping to save humanity from total extinction

It is also wise to review the significant human counteractions that will take place as runaway global heating worsens and its costs, suffering, and deaths rise. But, neither individually nor cumulatively will these human counteractions occur in time to save about half of humanity from extinction by mid-century. Additionally, neither separately nor collectively will the following human counteractions alone happen in time to save us from near-total extinction. 

Too many severe global heating consequences are already in the pipeline. This is because for the last 60 years we have been so ineffective in resolving global heating emergency.

Here are the primary human counteractions to the intensifying consequences of the runaway global heating extinction emergency:

  1. Eventually, our governments will pass and enforce laws that will radically reduce fossil fuel use. These new and enforceable fossil fuel reduction laws will drastically reduce global fossil fuel use.
  2. Eventually, our governments will create revenue-neutral, Fee and Dividend-based fossil fuel reduction programs. These Fee and Dividend-based programs will significantly disincentivize using fossil fuels and greatly incentivize greener energy use. 
  3. Each year we will build more non-fossil fuel alternative energy generation systems to replace the current fossil fuel energy generation.
  4. We will add more natural sequestration systems to remove more fossil fuel pollution from our atmosphere. 
  5. We will better protect and preserve existing natural carbon sequestration systems.
  6. Eventually, we will discover and use at scale, sustainable and appropriate technologies which are considerably different from what most people understand as new technologies. Once scaled up, these appropriate technologies will help us transition away from fossil fuels and possibly even help remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
  7. Eventually, our governments will pass and enforce laws that will make fossil fuels nearly impossible to use for all but a few minimal and essential uses. 
  8. Eventually, to ensure we never have this problem again, current governments (or those governments that survive the post-fossil fuel great global collapse) will evolve new economic and political systems and laws. These laws will change the paradigm of over-consumption, pollution, waste, overshoot, unmanaged population growth, and ecological over-exploitation. 
  9. Eventually, because the unimaginable pain and trauma of the runaway global heating caused great global collapse will be so severe, the survivors will find a way to manage the surviving world for the sustainable benefit of ALL humanity and not just for privileged nations or billionaires.

As a rule, the worse the consequence "action costs" of runaway global heating get (i.e., financial losses, ecological damage, human suffering, and deaths), the faster and harder governments and others will react and enact the above human counteractions to runaway global heating. Humanity will change its behaviors when the pain of going forward with those changes is less than the pain of staying where it is.

In the illustration below, the green line represents the rising and intensifying consequences of runaway global heating. The blue line represents the locked-in relationship of dependable, continuous, faster and harder reactions using all possible human counteractions in lockstep with the rising painful consequences of runaway global heating.


Yes, the above human counteractions will be too little and too late by themselves to save humanity. But when added to Mother Nature's horrible kill-off counteractions, they provide the additional opportunity to save even more of post mid-century humanity because the above human counteractions will also act to contribute to and help slow and lower our rising global temperature. 

When all of the above less powerful secondary human counteractions are added to the natural counteractions, they will act as an additional counteracting brake on rising global temperatures. This also will help Mother Nature ensure that humanity will not go beyond near-total extinctionBut even without the following additional human counteractions, Mother Nature's massive kill-off alone will save us from total extinction. The above human counteractions are just extra insurance and can help save more of us sooner.

Unfortunately, there is still this awful news to deal with. All of the above natural and human counteractions will still not be enough or be able to be scaled up in time to save about half of humanity from going extinct by mid-century in what will be an excruciatingly, horrible, and painful process. This means that whoever survives the mid-century extinction will face centuries to thousands of years of deprivation and suffering before Mother Nature can fully rebalance herself and get the atmospheric carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide levels down to where our global temperature goes back to a level better suited for optimal human existence and reproduction.

How much of humanity may perish after mid-century

At this point, you may be wondering how much of humanity Mother Nature's counteractions could save? Here are some estimates.

If we fail to radically reduce current global fossil fuel use and get close to the 2025 global targets as soon as possible:

1. some believe Mother Nature will keep killing us off until we get back down to what is known as the Earth's sustainable carrying capacity of about 1.5 billion people.

2. others believe we will be lucky to have 10or less of humanity still living in 2080 to 2100. This very high die-off level is because global heating will keep rising for decades even after Mother Nature has killed off enough of us to stop adding more carbon, methane, and nitrous oxide levels to our atmosphere. Moreover, global heating will continue to rise for about another 2-3 decades even after we entirely stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere because of pre-existing global heating momentum already within the climate system. 

If we fail to get close to the 2025 targets, it is also critical to realize that the conditions for the after mid-century survivors will be so bad most will wish they had not survived. (Click here to see the primary and secondary global heating-related consequences they will experience if we fail to get close to the 2025 targets.) 

Once you have reviewed those horrendous escalating consequences, there will be a little doubt that humanity's only viable solution for humanity's future is to get as close to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets as soon as possible.



From the above, all is not hopeless, and a global heating-driven total extinction is not the realistic or probable outcome of runaway global heating. On the contrary, the closer we get to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets, the more of the surviving 50% of humanity will be able to survive past mid-century. Additionally, the quality of life of those who do survive the pre-mid-century unavoidable extinction process will be made far more unbearable the longer it takes us to get to close to the critical 2025 global targets.

When you analyze and include all of the human "harmful" climate feedback loops and tipping points along with all of the counteracting and "helpful" natural and human feedback loops and tipping points, you get a climate/human connected system that will eventually "self" correct through a very painful, rough and extremely high "costs" process.

Today many climate researchers and individuals still have either omitted or have deeply underestimated the effects of Newton's 3rd law on climate systems and subsystems. They have largely ignored natural and human counteractions in the form of "helpful" climate system feedback loops and tipping points. The unfortunate news is that most individuals who do believe that the runaway global heating situation is hopeless have simply given up. 

Because they believe total extinction is inevitable, they are doing nothing substantive to do their critical part to get our governments to act while we still have time. They fail to see our runaway global heating emergency as just another evolutionary opportunity that will force us to finally make the many economic, social, environmental, and political changes that, sooner or later, we will be forced to make anyway. 

But fortunately, a more profound dialectical evolutionary climate truth shines brightest. If we get close to the 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets soon, as much as half of humanity could survive the runaway global heating extinction emergency. This truly is a realistic and appropriate hope worth fighting and working for wholeheartedly.

Individuals or groups who tell you all is lost, and we are ALL doomed because of runaway global heating have failed to properly account for or use in their analysis the many compensatory counteractions of:

1. Newton's 3rd Law of thermodynamics,  

2. the 28 dialectical perspectives (counteractions) critical for analyzing complex problems at a meta-systemic level. These 28 perspectives are described in Otto Laske's landmark book Measuring Hidden Dimensions of Human Systems Volume 2. And finally,

3. Mother Nature's kill-off counteraction is the only thing that can and will scale up in lockstep with our accelerating global heating consequences. Mother Nature's kill-off counteractions will be the primary and most likely way that a portion of humanity will be able to survive the runaway global heating extinction emergency. 

Below please see how poorly we are doing in getting close to the required 2025 global fossil fuel reduction targets.



Technical Notes:

  1. This article resulted from a new dialectical meta-systemic and system theory-based analysis of the most recent climate research viewing the climate as a complex adaptive system.  
  2. On Earth, nothing takes place in a vacuum. For every action, there is some counteraction. For every action (consequence) you have read about on this website, there could also be various counteractions from both "Mother Nature" and our many human systems and organizations. All possible counteractions must always be carefully weighed, considered, and included when doing any legitimate problem threat and risk analysis. 
  3. This article re-examined climate research and the contexts, processes, relationships, and transformations occurring within the climate's dynamic systems and subsystems. During this process, we discovered that the natural and human counteractions (some in helpful climate feedback loops and tipping points) were not adequately considered or weighted in our and other climate and global heating predictions.  
  4. If we reach an increase of 4-6 degrees Celsius in average global temperature, we will experience vast releases of stored carbon and methane from our oceans, soils, trees, and the coastal ocean shelves. But, it is highly improbable we will reach these temperature levels because of the natural and human counteractions described above. As temperatures rise, the human die-off will be so steep that there will not be enough us left burning fossil fuels to be able to reach a 4-6 degrees Celsius level. For the last six decades, it has taken about 25 additional carbon parts per million (ppm) to be added to the atmosphere to raise the average global temperature by 1/2 degree Fahrenheit. (One degree Celcius is equal to about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.) That means that at the current level of adding 3 new carbon ppm per year to our atmosphere, it takes 8+ years to raise the average global temperature by 1/2 degree Fahrenheit. We have presently raised the average global temperature by 1.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times. This means we have another 2.8 degrees of Celsius to go before entering a hazardous area for total extinction. Getting to 4 degrees Celcius will take about 40-50 years. By then, much of humanity will be long dead, and our greenhouse gas levels will have stopped rising (possibly even dropping a bit), preventing us from reaching 4 degrees Celsius. For the sake of wild argument, even if we cross additional global heating tipping points that cause a 50% reduction in the total time left to prevent reaching 4 degrees Celsius, so many of us will die off in the next 20-30 years, we will still not add enough additional fossil fuel pollutants in parts per million to the atmosphere to reach the 4 degrees Celsius level.  
  5. Anyone saying that the climate science shows that All of humanity will invariably go extinct from runaway global warming consequences does not understand there are no 100% certainties in science because new discoveries are constantly qualifying and adjusting by older research.
  6. Current dialectical meta-systemic analysis of recent climate research does not support the wild predictions of a climate-driven total human extinction in 10, 20, 30, or even 40 years. We have time left to act and at worst we will only suffer a near-total extinction, but we need everyone immediately rowing in the same direction at full strength to minimize future human extinction losses and suffering. 
  7. According to a 2020 study published in Scientific Reports, if deforestation and resource consumption (aka overshoot) continue at current rates, they could culminate in a "catastrophic collapse in human population" and possibly "an irreversible collapse of our civilization" in the next 20 to 40 years. 
  8. According to the most optimistic scenario provided by another study, the chances that human civilization survives is less than 10%. (See Nafeez, Ahmed. "Theoretical Physicists Say 90% Chance of Societal Collapse Within Several Decades". Vice. Retrieved 2 August 2021. Also see Bologna, M.; Aquino, G. (2020). "Deforestation and world population sustainability: a quantitative analysis." Scientific Reports. 10 (7631): 7631. doi:10.1038/s41598-020-63657-6. PMC 7203172. PMID 32376879.) 

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  • Jd Stillwater
    commented 2022-06-30 08:22:10 -0700
    This is helpful/hopeful, AND you have more faith in humanity than I do. Human behavior is the unpredictable wild card. People don’t just die; they fight like hell for themselves and their children. That fighting will involve massive releases of CO2 and methane.

    Governments won’t curtail fossil fuel use if it means letting constituents die of starvation or exposure. They’ll die anyway, but I predict emissions will increase exponentially as they do, in desperate attempts to keep people comfortable, economically viable, and, ultimately, alive.

    This year alone, the U.S. president is likely to lose in the fall due to popular anger that gas prices have reached an appropriate price. The pain is real for people. What will the next president do? Drill more, or go to war. Transition is a long-term strategy. Dying people won’t wait.
  • Jf Carpenter
    commented 2022-06-10 18:19:50 -0700
    This is really well done. I particularly like the graphic assists that help elucidate the uncomfortable narrative. How do we get the people who need to make the decisions which have a chance of bridling this runaway heating, to feel the timing intensity of their needed action? There is so much here, it will be overwhelming for many. Thanks for pulling all of this research together in a format that we will be able to use to talk with others about the urgency of moving forward now.
  • Lawrence Wollersheim
    published this page in Blog 2022-06-06 14:33:34 -0700
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