Science

New Report: Earth Is “Unequivocally” in Midst of Climate Emergency

The original report has been signed by over 14,000 scientists from 158 different countries.

16 of the 35 planetary vital indicators used by the researchers to measure climate change are at all-time highs.The Earth’s vital signs have deteriorated to the point that “humanity is unequivocally facing a climate emergency,” according to a study recently released by a worldwide coalition of scientists.

According to the report, “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022,” published in the journal BioScience, 16 of the 35 planetary vital indicators used by the authors to measure climate change are at record extremes.

The report’s authors present new data that shows an increase in extreme heat events and a loss of global forest cover from fires. They also show an increase in mosquito-borne dengue viruses.

They observe significant increases in fossil fuel use during COVID-19 shutdowns, and an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels at 418 parts per Million, the highest ever recorded.

William Ripple (a respected professor at Oregon State University College of Forestry) and Christopher Wolf (postdoctoral researcher) are the main authors of the report. The report also includes 10 co-authors from the United States and around the world. The study comes five years after “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” which was co-signed by more than 15,000 scientists from 184 nations and was published by Ripple in BioScience.

“As we can see by the annual surges in climate disasters, we are now in the midst of a major climate crisis, with far worse to come if we keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them,” Wolf said. “We implore our fellow scientists to join us in advocating for research-based approaches to climate and environmental decision-making.”

The report also includes co-authors from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Sydney and Independent University Bangladesh.

“Climate change is not a standalone issue,” said Saleemul Huq of Independent University Bangladesh. “It is part of a larger systemic problem of ecological overshoot where human demand is exceeding the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. To avoid more untold human suffering, we need to protect nature, eliminate most fossil fuel emissions and support socially just climate adaptations with a focus on low-income areas that are most vulnerable.”

The report points out that in the three decades since more than 1,700 scientists signed the original “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in 1992, global greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 40%.

“As Earth’s temperatures are creeping up, the frequency or magnitude of some types of climate disasters may actually be leaping up,” said the University of Sydney’s Thomas Newsome. “We urge our fellow scientists around the world to speak out on climate change.”

The paper co-authors include Wolf and Ripple as well as three other OSU scientists: Jillian Gregg and Matthew Betts. Beverly Law is also a co-author.

“World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022” is an update of a paper published in BioScience three years ago. Alliance of World Scientists is an independent organization that was founded to promote environmental sustainability and human well being. It continues to collect cosigners for the 2019 paper. More than 14,000 scientists have signed the 2019 paper from 158 different countries.

Ongoing work to spur climate change action by scientists around the world is chronicled in a new 35-minute documentary film “The Scientist’s Warning.” The film, by Oregon State Productions, is now available for free online viewing following its Oct. 14 premiere at the Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, California.

“The Scientist’s Warning” also chronicles Ripple’s personal journey: from a rural, low-income childhood in South Dakota in the 1950s to becoming an ecologist in Yellowstone to assuming a role as a global advocate for using science to make informed policy decisions.

“Look at all of these fires, floods, and massive storms,” Ripple said. “The specter of climate change is at the door and pounding hard.”

Reference: “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022” by William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Jillian W. Gregg, Kelly Levin, Johan Rockström, Thomas M. Newsome, Matthew G. Betts, Saleemul Huq, Beverly E. Law, Luke Kemp, Peter Kalmus and Timothy M. Lenton, 26 October 2022, BioScience.
DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biac083

The CO2 Foundation, Karen Josephson Peter Stoel and Roger Worthington funded the study. 

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