11,000 scientists warn: climate change isn't just about temperature

Ed Hawkins

In an accompanying scientific paper, authored by scientists from University of Sydney, Oregon State University, University of Cape Town and Tufts University, the scientists presented a series of data observations that highlighted the observed effects of climate change, saying the data and evidence showing the impacts of global warming are becoming increasingly clear.

The paper urges the use of the data provided, hoping it will "better allow policymakers, the private sector, and the public to understand the magnitude of this crisis, track progress, and realign priorities for alleviating climate change". Greenhouse gas emissions continue to enter the atmosphere, and if we don't stop quickly, we're doomed.

Four decades after scientists from 50 nations predicted that global warming would eventually become a big environmental challenge, a much larger group of experts is calling for new steps to address what they describe as a climate crisis. But a "broader set of indicators should be monitored, including human population growth, meat consumption, tree-cover loss, energy consumption, fossil-fuel subsidies and annual economic losses to extreme weather events".

The results are charts that are, at least compared with the climate graphics presented by the IPCC, surprisingly simple, and that help reveal the troubling direction the world is headed. Such measures would include policies that strengthen human rights, especially for women and girls, and make family-planning services "available to all people", the paper says.

"Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion; therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies".

Still, the scientists end on a somewhat more upbeat note, citing recent actions taken by goverments and activists.

The signatories were corralled by a group called The Alliance of World Scientists.

Short-lived pollutants: "Promptly" reducing the emissions of short-lived climate pollutants, like methane, black carbon, and hydrofluorocarbons. Reducing reliance on animal products and shifting towards plant-based diets could reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gas emissions that are a byproduct of massive agricultural practices.

According to the study, a concerted effort to protect nature and restore ecosystems, including coral reefs, forests, wetlands and more would boost the planet's natural carbon absorption and sequestration abilities.

Additionally, the "climate crisis" - now rapidly approaching faster than scientists expected - will have consequences for world economies. "The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle", they said.

The document has been organised to recognise the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference all the way back in 1979.

The paper states: "Mitigating and adapting to climate change means transforming the ways we govern, manage, eat, and fulfil material and energy requirements".

"We have rising emissions, rising temperatures, and we've known this for 40 years and we haven't acted - you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know we have a a problem", said Dr Newsome.

Australian researchers said that the observations were significant and that the pace of change across so many factors should be cause for concern. The scientists wanted to add further weight to those declarations and underscore the need for immediate action.

USA -based group Climate Mobilization expressed hope that the unequivocal demand for action from the science community would be "the final nail in the coffin of climate deniers who lie to the public about the extent to which climate emergency threatens our nations and families".

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