Time is running out to prevent a global environmental collapse — that’s the stark warning 15,364 of the world’s leading climate scientists have sent out.
Scientists from 180 countries, many in the developing world, put their names to the journal article published today in Bioscience, which also predicted temperature rises and unpredictable weather patterns that would cause widespread misery.
But the paper also noted it was not too late for governments to do something about it.
The number is believed to be the largest group of scientists to have ever put their names to a research paper focused on climate change.
One of the key authors of the paper, Bill Laurance, a research professor at James Cook University in Queensland, said this was the first time he had ever seen such a letter get sent out.
The paper focused on a number of issues, including the depletion of oceans, deforestation, endangered species and extinct species numbers, fresh water pollution and urban liveability.
It found the amount of fresh water available per capita has reduced by a quarter and almost 300 million acres of forests have been lost since 1960, while the human population has risen by a third.
“All kinds of instances of liveability of the planet,” he said.
“It’s far more than just climate change, although that’s certainly a critical part.”
The paper has depicted a bleak future world ravaged by climate change, a world characterised by human misery.
It called for population growth to be limited and for governments to stop focusing solely on economic growth.
Professor Laurance said too many governments were still thinking short-term, citing Australia as an example, who he said had moved “backwards quite a lot in the last five to 10 years”.
“For instance, Australia jettisoned the carbon tax, that was probably one of the most progressive things — it provided stability for the investment market, it provided incentives for alternative energy schemes and green energy sources, which are very important,” he said.
“We’re not going to get rid of coal overnight, but it is the dirtiest of all the fossil fuels and it is the one that contributes the most to global warming.”
Global CO2 emissions on the rise
The paper’s release coincided with new data showing Global CO2 emissions had risen for the first time in three years.
The Global Carbon Project collated the figures and blamed the increase on a growth in coal-fired electricity generation, as well as Chinese oil and gas consumption.
Local carbon emissions accounted for some of the rise, and scientists such as Frank Jotzo, from the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University, expressed concern Australia would not make its targets under the Paris Agreement.
“The outlook for 2017 is once again for no decline or perhaps more growth in greenhouse emissions — we’re not seeing the kind of change that we’ll need to see in order to meet the Paris commitments,” Professor Jotzo said.
Source: Michael Edwards