Scientists of many disciplines around the world have been trying for 40 years have tried to warn the public of the looming climate crisis, but they've met with stiff resistence from conservative politicians and lobbyists from the energy industry. That means that legislation and regulation that could help slow the damage has been slow to gain traction, meanwhile our escalating meat production, tree loss, birth rates and carbon emissions are growing faster than previously anticipated.
There has been a resurgence in interest in environmental science thanks to efforts by advocates like Greta Thunberg, and a group of scientists have taken advantage of the movement's momentum to draft a statement that shares a sobering message to the world.
"Scientists have a moral obligation to warn humanity of any great threat," says environmental scientist Thomas Newsome from the University of Sydney. "From the data we have, it is clear we are facing a climate emergency."
This follows on the heels of a letter delivered two years ago by Newsome and the largest international group of scientists in history. This new document studies four decades-worth of publicly available data, including energy use, surface temperature, population, deforestation, polar ice, fertility rates, and, of course, carbon emissions. 11,000 scientists from 150 counties have verified the results and signed the document.
"The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected," the authors write. "It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity."
Today, the birth rate is roughly 80 million people per year, and the Amazon rainforests and being destroyed at an alarming rate.
"Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have generally conducted business as usual and are essentially failing to address this crisis," says ecologist William Ripple from Oregon State University.
"While things are bad, all is not hopeless," Newsome has said. "We can take steps to address the climate emergency."
Suggested changes include pursuing renewable and carbon-capture technology, switch to more plant-based foods, and provide family-planning services to all people, especially girls and young women. But most importantly, we need to elect politicans committed to changing our climate crisis.