A global team of more than 11,000 scientists from over 150 countries officially declared that the world is in a “climate emergency,” according to a new paper released Tuesday.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney, one of the paper’s authors, in a statement. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”
The scientists warned that “untold human suffering” is unavoidable without deep and lasting shifts in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change.
“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have generally conducted business as usual and are essentially failing to address this crisis,” said William Ripple, a professor of ecology at Oregon State University and co-lead author of the paper. “Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”
This is the first time a group of scientists have come together to use the word “emergency” in regards to climate change.
The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors said it may take a groundswell of public pressure to convince political leaders to take corrective action. Since 1992, when more than 1,700 scientists signed a “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, global trends have worsened.
“Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity, and area burned in the United States are all rising,” Ripple said. “Globally, ice is rapidly disappearing as demonstrated by decreases in minimum summer Arctic sea ice, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, and glacier thickness. All of these rapid changes highlight the urgent need for action.”
The paper concludes by saying, “we believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency, and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home.”
The paper was published in the journal BioScience.