The declaration establishes "vital signs" as indicators of the magnitude of the climate crisis
The world's people will face "untold suffering due to the climate crisis" unless there are major transformations in global society, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists.
"We clearly and unequivocally declare that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency," he says. “To ensure a sustainable future, we must change the way we live. [This] implies great transformations in the ways in which our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems ”.
Scientists say there is no time to lose: “The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, it threatens natural ecosystems and the destiny of humanity ”.
The statement is published in BioScience magazine on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, which was held in Geneva in 1979. The statement was a collaboration of dozens of scientists and endorsed by 11,000 others from 153 nations. Scientists say urgently needed changes include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and reducing meat consumption.
Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University and the lead author of the statement, said he was driven to start it by the increase in extreme weather he was seeing. A key goal of the advisory is to establish a full range of "vital signs" indicators of the causes and effects of climate collapse, rather than just carbon emissions and rising surface temperatures.
“A broader set of indicators should be monitored, including human population growth, meat consumption, loss of tree cover, energy consumption, fossil fuel subsidies, and annual economic losses from events. extreme weather conditions, ”said co-author Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney
Other "deeply disturbing signs of human activities" selected by scientists include the increasing number of air passengers and the growth of world GDP. "The climate crisis is closely linked to overconsumption of the rich lifestyle," they said.
As a result of these human activities, there are "especially disturbing" trends of rising land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events, the scientists said: "Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, With few exceptions, which we have had, it largely failed to address this situation. Of particular concern are possible irreversible climate tipping points. These climatic chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society and economies, which could make large areas of the Earth uninhabitable. "
"We urge the widespread use of vital signs [to] enable policy makers and the public to understand the scale of the crisis, realign priorities, and track progress," the scientists said.
"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to look at the charts and know that things are going wrong," Newsome said. "But it is not too late." Scientists identify some encouraging signs, including declining global birth rates, increasing solar and wind power, and divesting from fossil fuels. Rates of forest destruction in the Amazon had also been falling until a recent spike under new President Jair Bolsonaro.
They established a series of urgently needed actions:
- Use energy much more efficiently and apply heavy carbon taxes to reduce the use of fossil fuels.
- Stabilize the world's population, currently growing by 200,000 people per day, using ethical approaches, such as longer education for girls.
- End the destruction of nature and restore forests and mangroves to absorb CO2
- Eat mostly plants and less meat, and reduce food waste.
- Move economic goals away from GDP growth
"The good news is that this transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises much greater human well-being than today," the scientists said. The recent surge in concern was encouraging, they added, from global school strikes to lawsuits against polluters and some nations and companies beginning to respond.
In 2017, a warning about the dangers of pollution and an impending mass extinction of wildlife on Earth was published, also led by Ripple. It was endorsed by more than 11,000 scientists and was read in parliaments from Canada to Israel. It came 25 years after the original "World Scientists Warning to Humanity" in 1992, which read: "A great change is required in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it, if the great change is to be avoided. human misery ”.
Ripple said scientists have a moral obligation to issue catastrophic threat warnings: "It is more important than ever that we speak up, based on the evidence." It is time to go beyond research and publication, and go directly to citizens and policy makers. "