Over 11,000 scientists have backed comprehensive research which concludes that the world is in a climate emergency. The work is based on 40 years of data that illustrates a myriad of climate related issues.
The scientists say the planet is facing “untold human suffering” and they have a moral obligation to warn humanity about the scale of the threat. The study, published in the Oxford Academic journal BioScience, came out on the same day that last month was declared the hottest October in recorded history.
The scientists said that, despite explicit warnings of insufficient progress on tackling this emergency, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are still rising, so now an “immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering”. The research by the authors, which is backed by this unprecedented number of scientists, is shown in a clear suite of graphical vital signs of climate change.
The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy, with the most affluent countries responsible for the historical emissions.
“Profoundly troubling signs from human activities include sustained increases in both human and ruminant livestock populations, per capita meat production, world gross domestic product, global tree cover loss, fossil fuel consumption, the number of air passengers carried, carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and per capita CO2 emissions since 2000,” the authors found.
While there are encouraging signs, such as a drop in birth rates, decelerated forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon, increases in the consumption of solar and wind power and fossil fuel divestment, there are still many challenges.
Human fertility rates have substantially slowed during the last 20 years but the pace of forest loss in Brazil’s Amazon has now started to increase again.
“Consumption of solar and wind energy has increased 373% per decade, but in 2018, it was still 28 times smaller than fossil fuel consumption,” the researchers warned, adding that they were especially disturbed by climatic impacts and the growth of CO2, methane and nitrous oxide in the atmosphere and the increase in global surface temperature.
Globally, ice has been rapidly disappearing, evidenced by declining trends in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness worldwide. Ocean heat content, ocean acidity, sea level, areas burned in the United States, as well as extreme weather and associated damage costs have all been trending upward.
“Climate change is predicted to greatly affect marine, freshwater, and terrestrial life, from plankton and corals to fishes and forests. These issues highlight the urgent need for action,” the researchers said in the worrying report.
“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 climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity,” the authors stated after saying they now need to tell it like it is.
With the planet reaching potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks that could lead to a catastrophic “hothouse Earth” well beyond the control of humans, the scientists said climate chain reactions could make large areas of Earth uninhabitable.