Billionaire George Soros says the planet is close to a tipping point and melting ice sheets are a ‘threat to the survival of our civilization’

February 16, 2023, 7:04 PM UTC
George Soros, billionaire and founder of Soros Fund Management LLC, speaks at an event on day two of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on May 24, 2022.
Jason Alden—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Billionaire investor George Soros said he fears for the future of humanity unless more radical measures are taken to tackle climate change.

In a speech distributed ahead of the Munich Security Conference, Soros backed the idea of using experimental geosolar technologies to shield the Arctic from melting, as well as an overhaul of international finance to address the challenge ahead.

The melting of the Greenland ice sheet “poses a threat to the survival of our civilization,” he said, according to prepared remarks ahead of a speech on Thursday. Current efforts to rein in rising temperatures are falling short, and the planet is increasingly at risk of hitting a tipping point, he said.

Human activity has already driven an average increase in global temperatures of about 1.2C since pre-industrial times. At current emissions levels, the planet is on track to warm by roughly double the 1.5C limit set out by countries in the 2015 Paris Agreement.

Soros endorsed geosolar engineering as one way to tackle the climate crisis — an idea that has been proposed by scientists such as the UK’s former chief scientific adviser David King. The concept is often seen as a last resort to combating global warming because it involves physically altering the Earth’s atmosphere to reflect more sunlight back into space or increase the amount of solar radiation that can escape.

King’s proposal would create white clouds to duplicate the reflectivity of Arctic ice — known as the “albedo effect,” Soros said in his presentation which included a short film on the subject.

Soros also said there needs to be a “reorienting of our international financial institutions, particularly the World Bank,” to ensure enough resources are spent on dealing with climate change. 

The warning comes as World Bank President David Malpass announced plans to step down by the middle of the year, giving the Biden administration an opening to pick someone to overhaul the global development lender to focus more on fighting global warming.

Failure to act could send humanity down a path on which “the amount of money needed to restabilize or repair the climate system grows exponentially,” Soros said.

“Our civilization will be thoroughly disrupted by rising temperatures that will make large parts of the world practically unlivable,” he said.

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