More than 11,000 scientists have “clearly and unequivocally” declared a climate emergency that could bring “untold suffering” unless there are major transformations in the way humans live.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any great existential threat,” the signatories, who hail from 153 countries, said in a paper published in Bioscience Magazine on Tuesday.
“To secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live … [This] entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.”
The signatories suggest six steps that would lessen the worst effects of climate change: replacing fossil fuels with low-carbon renewables; reducing the emissions of pollutants such as methane; protecting the Earth’s ecosystems; eating mostly plant-based foods and fewer animal products; creating a carbon-free economy; and stabilising the human population.
In their statement, the alliance of scientists, led by William Ripple and Christopher Wolf of Oregon State University in the United States, said the climate crisis is “accelerating faster” than most researchers expected.
“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,” they wrote.
“Especially worrisome are potential irreversible climate tipping points and nature’s reinforcing feedbacks (atmospheric, marine, and terrestrial) that could lead to a catastrophic ‘hothouse Earth’, well beyond the control of humans,” they said.
The scientists say they are “encouraged by a recent surge of concern” over the climate crisis, demonstrated by the student-led Fridays for Future movement and other grass-roots campaigns.
“As the Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision-makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future,” the paper concludes, adding that humanity should “act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home”.
The letter’s publication comes one day after US President Donald Trump begun the process to quit Washington’s participation in the landmark Paris climate accord, which seeks to fight climate change by mutual reductions in climate emissions.
Trump had repeatedly lambasted the pact, and took the action to withdrawal on the first day possible under the complex rules that govern its implementation.
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