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The 21st century will present major challenges for humanity, all of which must be overcome to ensure that life on Earth continues to thrive. Some of the issues facing humanity include global warming, the booming population expected to reach 10 billion by 2050, extreme weather events that will be exacerbated by climate change and dwindling freshwater supplies, to name a few.

A survey that interviewed 200 scientists found that as these problems all occur at the same time, they exacerbate each other, creating a vicious cycle that humanity must grapple with.

For example, the report says heat waves caused by extreme weather conditions are causing further global warming, accelerated by the planet releasing natural gases, such as CO2 stored in ice caps.

This in turn leads to a loss of biodiversity, which threatens the global food chain and natural resources.

The report, from Future Earth, lists five things that are the main problems facing humanity immediately.

They are: extreme weather conditions, climate change, declining vital ecosystems, food security and dwindling freshwater supplies.

Maria Ivanova, a professor at the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts, said these problems “have the potential to influence and amplify each other in ways that cause a global systemic collapse.”

The report states: “Global crises have the potential to impact and amplify each other in ways that cause global systemic collapse.

“Many scientists and decision-makers are integrated into institutions accustomed to thinking and acting on isolated risks, one at a time.

“We call on academics, business leaders and policy makers around the world to pay attention to these five global risks and ensure that they are treated as interacting systems. “

READ MORE: Virus warning: DEADLY viruses could be triggered as ice melts

Maria Ivanova, a professor at the Center for Governance and Sustainability at the University of Massachusetts, said the problems “have the potential to influence and amplify in ways that cause a global systemic collapse.”

Amy Luers, Executive Director of Future Earth, said: “2020 is a critical time to look at these issues.

“Our actions over the next decade will determine our collective future. “

The planet continues to warm, with scientists saying the global temperature has risen by about 0.15 to 0.20 ° C per decade.

This has led to the visible loss of ice in the polar caps, but the frozen water is also melting below the surface, scientists have warned.

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Permafrost is a permanently frozen layer below the surface, which affects 18 million square kilometers in the upper part of the northern hemisphere.

The ice sheet contains rocks, earth, sand and stores the remains of plants and microbes that have been stored in permafrost for millions of years.

However, this does mean that carbon dioxide (CO2) from dead plants and microbes is also trapped in Earth’s natural freezer – and with the permafrost starting to melt at an alarming rate, this CO2 will eventually be released into the atmosphere. .

Current estimates suggest that there are up to 1.5 trillion metric tonnes of carbon stored in permafrost.

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