11,000 Scientists Warn Of Climate Emergency
The 11,000 scientist-endorsed letter offers several long-term policy prescriptions to climate change.
More than 11,000 scientists joined to warn of “untold suffering” from the climate emergency in a report published on Tuesday, a day after the Trump administration began its formal withdrawal of the Paris Agreement.
“We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency,” the scientists state. “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 statement was published on the 40th anniversary of the world’s first world climate conference, which took place in Geneva in 1979. The scientists emphasized their statement’s date to highlight the world’s failure to enact concrete policies despite four decades of negotiations.
“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.
The scientists referred to self-reinforcing feedback loops as the most worrying potential development in the climate crisis. Climate-related feed back loops include food-chain disruption from mass biodiversity loss and methane released from melting permafrost in the Arctic.
“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,” the letter states.
The letter comes shortly after the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service declared last month the hottest October in recorded history, joining a host of broken heat records in 2019.
But despite the grim circumstances, the scientists say there is still time to avert catastrophic warming. They declare climate activism as a source of inspiration: “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.”
The scientists also cite improvements in renewable energy technology as reason for optimism. Last month, the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a report finding that offshore wind is on track to become a $1 trillion industry by 2040 and could provide enough energy to support the entire world’s electricity demand. Another IEA report found renewable energy is growing faster than anticipated, and is set to grow by 50% in the next five years
The 11,000 scientist-endorsed letter offers several long-term policy prescriptions to climate change, such as transitioning from fossil fuel energy sources to renewables, cutting global meat production, and stabilizing the world’s population.
“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”