Dr Thomas Newsome from the University of Sydney and his international team of scientists are warning the public that we may be entering an age of ‘untold human suffering’.
Scientist believe that this climate emergency is avoidable, however, it will not be possible to dodge without deep and lasting shifts in human activities in order to minimise greenhouse gas emissions.
The research team came to this conclusion after conducting scientific analysis of more than 40 years of publicly available data, considering factors such as; energy use, surface temperature, population growth, land clearing, deforestation, polar ice mass, fertility rates, gross domestic product and carbon emissions.
“Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat,” said Dr Newsome from the School of Life and Environment Sciences. “From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency.”
Published in BioScience, the research paper included finding from the University of Sidney, Oregon State University, University of Cape Town and Tufts University as well as 11,000 scientist signatories from 153 countries. The paper declares a climate emergency while presenting data and showing trends as benchmarks against which measure progress and outline six areas of action to mitigate the worst effects of a human-induced 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 Professor William Ripple, distinguished professor of ecology in the Oregon State University College of Forestry and co-lead author of the paper. “Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”
Dr Newsome said that measuring global surface temperatures will continue to remain important. However, he said that a “broader set of indicators should be monitored, including human population growth, meat consumption, tree-cover loss, energy consumption, fossil-fuel subsidies and annual economic losses to extreme weather events”.