Nearly 14,000 Scientists Warn Against Ignoring Climate Change

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(Photo: Luca Bravo/Unsplash)According to a panel of 14,000 scientists, ignoring our current climate crisis could lead to “untold suffering.” Their warning comes in the form of a paper published in the scientific journal BioScience and undersigned by experts from around the world. 

The paper, published Tuesday, emphasizes the need for “short, frequent, and easily accessible updates on the climate emergency” and outlines multiple areas of concern if we ever want to step up and, you know, save the planet. Among them are emissions-loving climate economics, sea-level changes, greenhouse gases’ effects on temperature, and the way we use energy. The authors of the paper assert that such concerns are “the consequences of unrelenting business as usual” and call out that despite intentions to “build back better” following the initial COVID-19 wave, little environmental progress has been made. 

In 2019, William Ripple of the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University led a handful of colleagues in publishing a declaration of a global climate emergency. Steadfast in their moral obligation to “clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat,” Ripple and his colleagues presented a number of troubling trends involving greenhouse gas, tree cover loss, non-renewable energy sources, and other threats to the earth’s well-being. They warned that humans were “largely failing” at preventing what was sure to be a never-before-seen level of suffering. More than 11,000 individuals from The Alliance of World Scientists (made up of 25,000 science professionals and graduate students across 180 countries) signed the paper, hoping their support would help to convey urgency to world leaders. 

The first day of the Calwood wildfire, which is the largest wildfire ever to have been recorded in Boulder County, CO. (Photo: Malachi Brooks)

Since the original paper’s publication, however, the world has watched climate-related disasters skyrocket. Cyclones have pummeled Africa, South Asia, and the West Pacific, heatwaves and wildfires have burned Australia and the western US, and floods have ravished South America and Southeast Asia. We’ve reached critical tipping points for icecaps, coral reefs, and Brazilian rainforests (the last of which lost 1.11 million hectares in 2019 and 2020). It’s only been two years since Ripple’s first paper was published, but things are different (read: worse) now. Recognizing this, Ripple and his colleagues rewrote the letter with new findings and extra details, ending it with a call to “join together as a global community with a shared sense of urgency, cooperation, and equity.”

Some believe “climate doom,” or a hardball, make-or-break approach to climate justice, hinders productive action by causing individuals to feel overwhelmed and give up on the planet (as evidenced by this article from The Guardian). While it’s imperative to show people that the climate crisis is already happening and not some future possibility, sustainable climate mobilization is often thought to be more effective than attempting to force panic. 

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