A global team of more than 11,000 scientists from more than 150 countries has officially declared that the world is in a "climate emergency," according to a new article released Tuesday.
"Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any major threat," Thomas Newsome of the University of Sydney, one of the authors of the article, said in a statement. "From the data we have, it is clear that we are facing a climate emergency."
Scientists have warned that "untold human suffering" is inevitable without profound and lasting changes in human activities that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions and other factors related to climate change.
"Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we generally conduct business as usual and are unable to cope with this crisis," said William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University and co-lead author of the article. "Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected."
This is the first time a group of scientists has come together to use the word "emergency" regarding climate change.
The warning came with steps that can be taken to reverse negative trends, but the authors said public pressure may be needed to persuade political leaders to take corrective action. Since 1992, when more than 1,700 scientists signed a "Warning from World Scientists to Humanity" published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, global trends have worsened.
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"Global surface temperature, ocean heat content, extreme weather and its costs, sea level, ocean acidity and burnt area in the United States are all rising," said Ripple. “Globally, ice is rapidly disappearing, as demonstrated by the decrease in Arctic sea ice in summer, the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and the thickness of glaciers. All of these rapid changes highlight the urgent need for action. "
The article concludes by saying, "We believe the outlook will be greater if decision makers and all of humanity respond promptly to this warning and declaration of climate emergency and act to sustain life on planet Earth, our only home."
The article was published in BioScience magazine.