© 2017

Surviving the 21st Century

Humanity's Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them


  • Enriches understanding of humanity's greatest challenges and why we need to solve them

  • Shares many tips and insights into creative and collaborative ways of avoiding human extinction

  • Identifies the main approaches to dematerialzing the economy, ending "agribusiness" and cleaning up the earth


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiv
  2. Julian Cribb
    Pages 1-12
  3. Julian Cribb
    Pages 13-36
  4. Julian Cribb
    Pages 37-60
  5. Julian Cribb
    Pages 61-79
  6. Julian Cribb
    Pages 81-101
  7. Julian Cribb
    Pages 103-122
  8. Julian Cribb
    Pages 123-146
  9. Julian Cribb
    Pages 147-169
  10. Julian Cribb
    Pages 171-194
  11. Julian Cribb
    Pages 195-216
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 217-255

About this book


The book explores the central question facing humanity today: how can we best survive the ten great existential challenges that are now coming together to confront us? Besides describing these challenges from the latest scientific perspectives, it also outlines and integrates the solutions, both at global and individual level and concludes optimistically. This book brings together in one easy-to-read work the principal issues facing humanity. It is written for the two next generations who will have to deal with the compounding risks they inherit, and which flow from overpopulation, resource pressures and human nature.

The author examines ten intersecting areas of activity (mass extinction, resource depletion, WMD, climate change, universal toxicity, food crises, population and urban expansion, pandemic disease, dangerous new technologies and self-delusion) which pose manifest risks to civilization and, potentially, to our species’ long-term future. This isn’t a book just about problems. It is also about solutions. Every chapter concludes with clear conclusions and consensus advice on what needs to be done at global level —but it also empowers individuals with what they can do for themselves to make a difference. Unlike other books, it offers integrated solutions across the areas of greatest risk. It explains why Homo sapiens is no longer an appropriate name for our species, and what should be done about it.


climate change and humanity population and urban expansion pandemic disease environmental toxicity resource depletion global biodiversity food related diseases global surveillance state anthropocene human extinction

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.CanberraAustralia

About the authors

Julian Cribb is an Australian author and science writer. A former newspaper editor and science communicator; his published work includes over 8000 articles, 3000 science media releases and nine books. He has received more than 30 awards for journalism and is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology, Science and Engineering and the Australian National University Emeritus Faculty. 

His internationally-acclaimed book, The Coming Famine (University of California Press, 2010) explored the question of how we can feed 10 billion humans this century. His book Poisoned Planet (Allen and Unwin 2014) investigates the contamination of the Earth system and all humanity by man-made chemicals. Surviving the 21st Century is the third book in his trilogy about how humans can overcome the existential risks our success has brought upon us.

Bibliographic information


“Cribb, an experienced author and science writer, has written an important book–providing policy makers will pay attention to it. … This book is recommended for a variety of readers. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers.” (M. LaBar, Choice, Vol. 54 (8), 2017)

“His book Surviving the 21st Century: Humanity’s Ten Great Challenges and How We Can Overcome Them poses the ten existential challenges facing Homo sapiens, and answers each one. It is a book of solutions, severally and collectively.” (Climate Plus,, December, 2016)

“It comprehensively addresses all the main threats to us and to our planet. … We can demonstrate wisdom by getting hold of a copy of Surviving the 21 Century and applying some of the recommendations to our own lives. We can recommend the book to others. We can alert our leaders to the book and its contents. We owe this to ourselves and to our planet.” (Paul Holper, Scientell,, November, 2016)

“Spells out the ten greatest challenges ahead and suggests strategies to meet them, all based on science .... Those challenges include ecological collapse, climate change, war, chemicals in the environment, food, disease and delusional thinking, among others. The potential solutions proposed by the author include putting women in charge of world affairs, and for men to start thinking more like 'wise women'.” (Scimex,, November 3, 2016)

“What a refreshing a dose of realism! An antidote to so much media fog, hype and bad science. An important read for anyone who is seriously concerned about how the human race is to go forward and how to help our grandchildren survive. Worth every penny. (Will Goodall,, October 12, 2016)

“The book has been unanimously praised by a cast of reviewers ... . The author explores each of these threats and identifies ways we can positively approach each of them. But he says the greatest challenge lies not in the physical threats we face but in our own minds. He argues that our belief in non-material things like money, politics, religion and the human narrative often diverts and undermines our efforts to work together for survival.” (Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy,, October 5, 2016)