A new study signed by more than 11,000 scientists in 153 countries supports the use of the term “climate emergency,” a phrase more commonly heard in the calls of climate activists, according to the Washington Post. This is the first time that a group of scientists this large has formally backed addressing climate change as an “emergency.”
The term’s embrace from the global scientific community points to a growing sense of urgency of addressing climate change’s effects and root causes.
In an email to Vice, one of the paper’s co-lead authors, Dr. William Ripple, a professor of ecology at Oregon State University, said: “We have joined together to declare a climate emergency because the climate change is more severe and accelerating faster than was expected by scientists. It is threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”
“Many of us feel like time is running out for us to act,” Ripple added.
The report, compiled by the Alliance of World Scientists, collapses almost a half-century of climate science research. It not only declares an emergency, but also crucially outlined broad, global policy goals in order to address it.
To rectify decades of harmful human trends, Ripple and his team identify six global projects, employed at a mass scale, as necessary to our survival:
The proliferation of clean energy use
The reduction of short-lived climate pollutants, like soot and methane
A decrease in biodiversity loss and deforestation
An expansion in plant-based diets
The promotion of economic systems that reduce inequality
Sustainable population growth
While these solutions were previously understood in scientific communities, the report’s authors and co-signers hope to spread awareness to the global public with their linguistic shift.
“This is a document that establishes a clear record of the broad consensus among most scientists active at this point in history that the climate crisis is real, and is a major, even existential, threat to human societies, human well-being, and biodiversity,” Dr. Jesse Bellemare, a signatory of the study and a biology professor at Smith College, told the Washington Post.
Adopting the policies outlined in the report will require massive global economic and social shifts, but the alternative is bleak, according to the paper. Getting the public and world leaders to address a “climate emergency” with exigency is necessary, the team says.
“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,” the team said about their findings. “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.”