TUESDAY, Nov. 5, 2019 (HealthDay News) — A global coalition of more than 11,000 scientists warns that planet Earth is facing a “climate emergency” that will cause “untold human suffering” unless drastic steps are taken.
The warming climate is already taking a toll on human health, causing widespread hunger and illness that will grow exponentially worse, said the warning’s lead author, William Ripple. He’s a professor of ecology at Oregon State University College of Forestry, in Corvallis, Ore.
“In the end, our warning is about human well-being in that climate change is a major threat to human well-being,” Ripple said.
Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected, with more severe effects, according to the paper published Nov. 5 in the journal BioScience. It is co-signed by 11,258 scientists from 153 countries.
The warning came one day after President Donald Trump served notice that the United States will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The scientists cited six immediate steps that must be taken to slow global warming:
- Implement massive energy conservation practices, including restrictions to slow the use of fossil fuels.
- Swiftly cut emissions of climate pollutants like methane, soot and hydrofluorocarbons, which could reduce the warming trend by more than half over the next few decades.
- Restore and protect natural ecosystems like forests, grasslands and wetlands, which play a role in controlling the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.
- Focus on plant-based diets with fewer animal products, since raising livestock takes more resources and also emits methane and other greenhouse gases.
- Convert the global economy to one that acknowledges human dependence on the biosphere, and reduces exploitation of natural ecosystems that maintain planetary health.
- Pursue policies that stabilize the global human population, which is increasing by more than 200,000 people a day.
“We have an urgent situation, but it’s not too late in that anything we do now will help relieve suffering in the future,” Ripple said. “We already are committed to some climate change, but if we take effective action now we may be able to avoid catastrophic climate change.”