Over 11,000 scientists from 153 countries on Tuesday released a report, warning that our planet “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency”. The report provided six policy goals that must be implemented to address the emergency.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to ‘tell it like it is’,” the report said. “On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”
This is the first time such a large group of scientists has formally come together to caution against climate change being “an emergency”. The report said that a significant increase in efforts would be required to prevent “untold suffering” for humanity.
The report, titled ‘World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency’, was published in the journal Bioscience. Ecologists such as William J Ripple, Christopher Wolf from the Oregon State University, Phoebe Barnard, a biodiversity and climate change strategic planner and researcher, Thomas M Newsome from The University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences and William R Moomaw, a Tufts University climate scientist, spearheaded the report.
The paper based its findings on a set of indicators that highlight human influence on the climate, such as 40 years of greenhouse gas emissions, “sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product, global tree cover loss, fossil fuel consumption”, among others.
“We suggest six critical and interrelated steps [in no particular order] that governments, businesses, and the rest of humanity can take to lessen the worst effects of climate change,” the report said. “These are important steps but are not the only actions needed or possible.”
It advised that fossil fuels be replaced, pollutants such as methane and soot be eliminated, ecosystems restored and protected, consumption of animal products be reduced and replaced with mostly plant-based foods, and transition into an economy that is carbon-free and stabilise population growth.
“Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity and land area are all rising,” Ripple, who co-authored the report, told The Independent. He said these were all rapid changes that raise the urgency for action.
Newsome, lead author of the study, said that keeping track of global surface temperatures was important but the indicators should also be monitored.
Moomaw, an author of the analysis, said that it came from researchers who were witnessing the consequences of climate change. He described the report as a “statement of frustration on the part of many in the scientific community”, according to The Washington Post.
In the report, the scientists said that they were inspired by recent rise in concerns on climate change. “Schoolchildren are striking,” it said. “Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.”
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