Authors of a new paper declaring a climate emergency said they're encouraged by the increase in public demands for climate change mitigation, especially by youth activists. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 5 (UPI) -- After compiling 40-years worth of publicly available climate change data, scientists have declared a climate emergency.
The climate scientists responsible for the declaration, published Tuesday in the journal BioScience, say experts have been sounding the alarm for decades.
"Yet greenhouse gas emissions are still rapidly rising, with increasingly damaging effects on the Earth's climate," scientists wrote in their paper. "An immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis."
The newly published paper was signed by 11,000 scientists from 153 countries.
"We have continued to conduct business as usual and have failed to address this crisis," William Ripple, distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University, said in a news release.
Before making their declaration, scientists analyzed a variety of models and data sets related to energy use, surface temperature, population growth, land-use changes, deforestation, polar ice melting, carbon emissions and more.
"Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity and land area are all rising," Ripple said. "Ice is rapidly disappearing as shown by declining trends 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."
Thomas Newsome, from the University of Sydney, said scientists have a moral obligation to warn the planet's citizens about the threat of catastrophic climate change.
"From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency," Newsome said.
According to the new paper, world leaders and policy makers should focus their climate change mitigation efforts on six fronts: energy, short-lived pollutants, nature, food, the economy and population.
"The world must quickly implement massive energy efficiency and conservation practices and must replace fossil fuels with low-carbon renewables," researchers wrote in their paper.
In addition to quickly curbing CO2 emissions, the study's authors called on the world's governments to enact policies that dramatically reduce short-lived pollutants like methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons.
"Doing this could slow climate feedback loops and potentially reduce the short-term warming trend," researchers wrote.
According to the study, a concerted effort to protect nature and restore ecosystems, including coral reefs, forests, wetlands and more would boost the planet's natural carbon absorption and sequestration abilities.
Additionally, study authors called on policy makers to transform the planet's economic and agriculture systems.
"Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere," scientists wrote.
Perhaps most controversially, the newly published paper also calls on world leaders to address population growth. Specifically, scientists suggest developing a framework for population stabilization -- and eventually, world population reduction -- that simultaneously boosts human rights while lowering fertility rates.
Several recent reports have highlighted similar strategies for climate change mitigation. According to one report by United Nations scientists, carbon emissions need to be halved in the next decade and reduced to zero by 2040.
Authors of the latest paper are hopeful that the world's governments and its populations can enact the necessary changes.
"Mitigating and adapting to climate change while honoring the diversity of humans entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems," researchers wrote. "We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern. Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. 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. As an Alliance of World Scientists, we stand ready to assist decision makers in a just transition to a sustainable and equitable future."