Humanity is on track to face "climate change trajectory. A new study, signed by more than 11,000 scientists from around the world, marks the first time a large group of scientists has said the Earth is facing a " " caused predominantly by human activities." if we continue our current
In the study, published Tuesday in the journal BioScience, scientists no longer mince words when it comes to talking about the climate crisis, preferring instead to "tell it like it is." They declare, "clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency," which threatens .
"We have joined together to declare a climate emergency because the climate change is more severe and accelerating faster than was expected by scientists," Bill Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University and co-author of the paper, told CNET. "Many of us feel like the time is running out for us to act."
The study brings together four, finding troubling trends in population growth, meat production, air travel, loss of tree cover, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and energy consumption. Additionally, carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide continue to increase, as does . Ice has been worldwide and extreme weather — and the associated damages — have trended upward.
Scientists say we are not acting fast enough.
"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," scientists said.
Relying onalone does not fully encompass the scope of the dangers currently facing humanity. The research shows a concerning, albeit unsurprising trend — we have failed to change how we live in a meaningful enough way to reverse the damage we're causing across the board.
Researchers suggest tangible changes in six overarching categories:
- Replace fossil fuels with and other cleaner sources of energy.
- Reduce the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, including methane, black carbon and hydrofluorocarbons.
- Protect and and minimize habitat and biodiversity loss.
- Eat a , which can improve human health and lower emissions.
- Implement a carbon-free economy and prioritize basic human needs rather than affluence.
- Stabilize and reduce population growth.
Scientists are particularly concerned about population growth, noting that human fertility rates have "substantially slowed" over the last 20 years. The study calls for strengthening human rights, especially for, in order to combat the issue. This would include making widely available to all people and making primary and secondary education a global norm for all.
The 11,258 scientists who signed the warning represent 153 countries and a wide range of scientific disciplines, from marine biology to biomedical science to astronomy.
"We received supporting signatures from a broad range of scientists which likely reflects that they are witnesses to the effects of climate change on the plants, animals and ecosystems they are studying," said Thomas Newsome, an ecologist at the University of Sydney and co-author of the paper.
While the study focuses on the negatives, scientists said they are "encouraged by a recent surge of concern" for the future of the planet. They cite that governments are taking the emergency more seriously through improved legislation, millions of students — inspired by— are and to the demand for change.
They also found encouraging trends across the consumption of, fossil fuel divestment and the proportion of GHG emissions covered by carbon pricing.
The study supports coastal populations, more severe and reaching landmasses and worldwide., which shows the Earth's oceans have reached tipping points, where some of the more severe consequences of climate change can no longer be avoided. The effects include mass flooding events that threaten
"The good news is that such transformative change, with social and economic justice for all, promises far greater human well-being than does business as usual," scientists concluded. "We believe that the prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home."