In a study published on Tuesday in the journal Bioscience, 11,258 scientists from 153 countries around the world have come together to declare a global climate emergency, bemoaning the “untold human suffering” that would follow as climate change accelerates .
Titled ‘World scientists’ warning of a climate emergency,’ the study was led by Bill Ripple and Christopher Wolf, ecologists from Oregon State University. The researchers included experts from hundreds of disciplines in the field of modern science.
In easy-to-understand and crystal-clear terms, they attributed the accelerating change to human activities on earth increasing greenhouse gas emissions . As of the 1960s, global carbon dioxide levels increased at a steady rate of 0.6ppm annually. Over the past decade, it’s massively increased to 2.3ppm per year . The earth is getting exponentially warmer and the world is still not taking the situation seriously. The scientists warn that if immediate actions are not taken to get a hold of the situation, the effects may be irreversible and unbearable.“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” the study states.
“Clearly and unequivocally planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” the researchers wrote, stating that they have a moral obligation to warn the world of catastrophic threats.
The study listed several human factors causing the massive change – increased rates of deforestation, burning of fossil fuels, human reproduction, and overexploitation of natural resources. The scientists noted that although global birth rates have substantially slowed in the past two decades, the earth is still headed for an irreversible state of inhabitability. With every piece of beef consumed, each liter of gasoline combusted and every green tree cut down, the collapse of civilization draws closer.
“Scientists, and in particular those that are studying what is happening in a changed climate, have become the most alarmed at how rapidly these changes are taking place and the urgency of needing to take far more drastic action,” said Willie Moomaw, a lead author of the paper and a climate scientist at Tufts University .
Suggested policies for immediate implementation
The study is different from several others that have surfaced in the past decades about climate change – the researchers drew up six key policies that must be implemented to alleviate a critical situation. The crux of the solution would be solidified if the public makes significant efforts to “understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change.” Human beings are progressively damaging nearly every existing ecosystem and drastic transformations would have to be made to several cultures and economies if there is any hope of saving the planet.
The policy headings include:
- Short-lived pollutants
On energy, the researchers suggest the immediate replacement of fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy with cleaner, renewable alternatives such as bio-fuel and solar energy. They advised that the remaining ores of fossil fuels buried in the earth should be left unharnessed while the world turns its focus to other energy avenues.
“Wealthier countries need to support poorer nations in transitioning away from fossil fuels.”
Short-lived pollutants: A co-ordinated reduction in the emission of short-lived pollutants such as hydrofluorocarbons and methane may reduce the short-term warming rates of the earth by 50% over the next few decades. HFCs are super greenhouse gases and even though they may not cause serious damage at a local level, these chemicals are active contributors to environmental breakdown.
Food: If people would switch to eating more plant-based foods and fewer animal products, there may be a significant reduction in the emissions of GHGs and other pollutants. Human health would be greatly improved and there would be more land for crop farming.
“Cropping practices such as minimum tillage that increase soil carbon are vitally important. We need to drastically reduce the enormous amount of food waste around the world,” they wrote.
Nature: The paper called for the preservation and revitalization of natural ecosystems that help in the removal of CO2 and replenishing oxygen levels. United efforts at reforestation and afforestation would not only help to increase global oxygen reserves, but there would be decreased habitat and biodiversity loss.
On economy, the study suggests that the negative correlation between economic growth and the sustenance of natural ecosystems would have to be reversed. World economies are more concerned about growing GDPs by the overexploitation of natural resources than sustaining the viability of the environment. Although there is a significant increase in the global use of green and solar energy in recent times, it’s not nearly enough to hit the cross mark.
“We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly.”
With the global population increasing by roughly around 200,000 per day, the paper suggests the massive implementation of sub-policies to regulate human reproduction rates. These sub-policies include strengthening human rights, especially for women and girls and lowering fertility rates (in parts of the world where this is an issue). “These policies make family-planning services available to all people and remove barriers to their access and achieve full gender equity,” the paper reads.
The uprising to go green and save the planet
The paper states that although the future may look dangerously bleak, there are encouraging rays of hope as more governmental organizations “are making climate emergency declarations.”
“Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states, and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding. Such swift action is our best hope to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.”
- Phoebe Weston. ‘Untold human suffering’: 11,000 scientists from across world unite to declare global climate emergency. Independent. https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/climate-emergency-scientists-emissions-letter-climate-change-a9185786.html. Retrieved 05-11-19
- Ripple et al. World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency. Bioscience. https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/advance-article/doi/10.1093/biosci/biz088/5610806?searchresult=1. Retrieved 05-11-19
- Rebecca Lindsey. Climate Change: Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Climate. https://www.climate.gov/news-features/understanding-climate/climate-change-atmospheric-carbon-dioxide#:~:text=Carbon%20dioxide%20concentrations%20are%20rising,people%20are%20burning%20for%20energy.&text=In%20the%201960s%2C%20the%20global,to%202.3%20ppm%20per%20year.. Retrieved 05-11-19
- Andrew Freedman. More than 11,000 scientists from around the world declare a ‘climate emergency’. The Washington Post.https://www.washingtonpost.com/science/2019/11/05/more-than-scientists-around-world-declare-climate-emergency/. Retrieved 05-11-19
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