Politics, Science/Environment

Over 11,000 scientists declare a global ‘climate emergency’

The Australian parliament voted against it.

But now 11,000 people who might know one or two more facts than a bubble of politicians have confirmed it is, indeed, happening: the whole world is in the midst of a climate emergency.

By Andrea Hamblin

Dr Thomas Newsome, of Sydney University, and a co-author of the original paper in BioScience, is among more than 11,000 scientists leading the emergency declaration. Photo: Fiona Roughley/ Getty

And they believe the threats are accelerating faster than previously expected.

Pointing to their “moral obligation” to share knowledge of impending danger, scientists from 153 countries – Australia included – on Wednesday morning released a declaration of a climate crisis they said would lead to “untold suffering”.

They have called on governments to cut pollution, introduce carbon taxes and stop giving a helping hand to the fossil fuel industry.

Individuals and families are also told to take responsibility: regularly eating meat, and an obsession with cash and flash fashion, are among the factors scientists have flagged as contributing to the planet’s demise.

“Exactly 40 years ago, scientists from 50 nations met at the First World Climate Conference [in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1979] and agreed that alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act,” they wrote.

“Since then, similar alarms have been made through the 1992 Rio Summit, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement, as well as scores of other global assemblies and scientists’ explicit warnings…yet greenhouse gas emissions are still rapidly rising.”

It comes a day after the US formally notified the United Nations it will withdraw from the Paris Agreement, the first formal step in a year-long process to exit the global pact to fight climate change.

Locally, the question of whether to declare a climate emergency has been hotly debated. Supporters believe acknowledgement is a crucial step towards governments introducing better policies, and communities changing harmful behaviours.

Critics, such as Federal Energy Minister Angus Taylor, argue it’s just “hollow symbolism” that won’t help save the planet.

In October, the Federal Parliament voted down a motion to declare a “climate emergency”. The Morrison government blocked the push by the Greens, Labor and the crossbench, with Mr Taylor saying the opposition was making a “song and dance” without actually committing to a climate policy.

Houses flooded in Bangui, in October. Floods are commonplace on the Oubangui River, but it has been the highest in 20 years, according to the Central African Red Cross. Photo: Getty

‘It’s not too late… we can change’

The paper, published on Wednesday in BioScience, was authored by academics from the University of Sydney, Oregon State University, University of Cape Town and Tufts University – and endorsed by thousands of their peers from around the world.

It listed six clear steps to mitigate the effects of climate change: 

  1. Energy: Implement massive conservation practices; replace fossil fuels with clean renewables; leave remaining stocks of fossil fuels in the ground; eliminate subsidies to fossil fuel companies; and impose carbon fees that are high enough to restrain the use of fossil fuels.
  2. Shortlived pollutants: Swiftly cut emissions of methane, hydrofluorocarbons, soot and other short-lived climate pollutants. The report said this would have potentially reduce the short-term warming trend by more than 50 percent over the next few decades.
  3. Nature: Restrain massive land clearing. Restore and protect ecosystems such as forests, grasslands and mangroves, which would greatly contribute to the sequestration of atmospheric carbon dioxide, a key greenhouse gas.
  4. Food: Eat mostly plants and consume fewer animal products. This dietary shift, scientists said, would significantly reduce emissions of methane and other greenhouse gases and free up agricultural lands for growing human food rather than livestock feed. Reducing food waste is also critical – the scientists say at least one-third of all food produced ends up as garbage.
  5. Economy: Convert the economy’s reliance on carbon fuels. Shift goals away from the growth of gross domestic product and the pursuit of individual wealth. Curtail the extraction of materials and exploitation of ecosystems.
  6. Population: Stabilise global population, which is increasing by more than 200,000 people a day – but do so in a way that is socially and economically fair.
Extinction Rebellion activists protesters, pictured here in Sydney, caused a stir across Australia in October. Photo: Getty

The scientists wrote that they “have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any great existential threat and to ‘tell it like it is’.”

They said the declaration was based on an analysis of more than 40 years of data on measures such as population, surface temperature, carbon emissions and deforestation.

“Despite 40 years of major global negotiations, we have generally conducted business as usual,” said Professor William Ripple, professor of ecology at Oregon State University and co-lead author of the paper.

“Climate change has arrived and is accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”

“Extinction Rebellion” demonstrators march through Melbourne in October. Photo: Getty

Co-author, The University of Sydney’s Dr Thomas Newsome, said data showed clear evidence of a climate emergency.

But, he said, a “broader” set of indicators needed to be monitored – including meat consumption, tree-cover loss, fossil fuels and extreme weather – to give the public and policymakers a clearer picture of the problem.

“While things are bad, all is not hopeless. We can take steps to address the climate emergency,” Dr Newsome said.

Editors note; Nine scientists from Southern Cross University were among the signatories to this worldwide declaration. (7-11-2019)


First published at The New Daily, Wednesday 6 November 2019. See: https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/11/06/climate-emergency-scientists/

13 Comments

  1. This survey was reportedly created by five people – none who work in the field of climate science or atmospherics, has not been peer reviewed, and those 11,000-plus “experts” include professors “M. Mouse of the Mickey Mouse Institute for the Blind, Namibia ” and “Albus Dumbledore, Hogwarts”. As a a university graduate from the science field (Biology, Ecology and Paleontology), I find this type of sensationalist and sloppy work seriously erodes respect from the community.

    • From the BioScience article itself;

      William J. Ripple ([email protected]) and Christopher Wolf ([email protected]) are affiliated with the Department of Forest Ecosystems and Society at Oregon State University, in Corvallis and contributed equally to the work. Thomas M. Newsome is affiliated with the School of Life and Environmental Sciences at The University of Sydney, in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Phoebe Barnard is affiliated with the Conservation Biology Institute, in Corvallis, Oregon, and with the African Climate and Development Initiative, at the University of Cape Town, in Cape Town, South Africa. William R. Moomaw is affiliated with The Fletcher School and the Global Development and Environment Institute, at Tufts University, in Medford, Massachusetts

      11,258 scientist signatories from 153 countries (list in supplemental file S1)

      Statement:

      During our original signature screening process, we attempted to remove all signatures that appeared to be invalid. Although, a few invalid ones were missed. We are thoroughly reviewing the full list at the moment and will make further updates if required.

      Contributing reviewers

      Franz Baumann, Ferdinando Boero, Doug Boucher, Stephen Briggs, Peter Carter, Rick Cavicchioli, Milton Cole, Eileen Crist, Dominick A. DellaSala, Paul Ehrlich, Iñaki Garcia-De-Cortazar, Daniel Gilfillan, Alison Green, Tom Green, Jillian Gregg, Paul Grogan, John Guillebaud, John Harte, Nick Houtman, Charles Kennel, Christopher Martius, Frederico Mestre, Jennie Miller, David Pengelley, Chris Rapley, Klaus Rohde, Phil Sollins, Sabrina Speich, David Victor, Henrik Wahren, and Roger Worthington.

      From ResearchGate;

      https://www.researchgate.net/post/World_Scientists_Warning_of_a_Climate_Emergency-Please_Sign

      From CBS, USA;
      “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency,” published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal BioScience, also said the climate crisis is accelerating faster than previously expected and is more severe than anticipated, leading to a threat to humanity.

  2. Have to agree with the previous comment and you posting garbage like this really takes away legitimately from this site.

    • Is this your view because you don’t believe in climate change or are you worried that your shares in Whitehaven Coal, Adani or Westfarmers might go backwards? You really need to expand on why you think the article is “garbage.” Would have thought the endorsement of the declaration by 9 Scientists at SCU provided the article with a modicum of legitimacy and the 6 steps to slow down climate change seem a reasonable response to deteriorating weather patterns. What qualifications do you hold?

    • It is indeed unfortunate that a few dodgy signatures got through and S. Hudacek was right to highlight it. At least three or four out of approximately 11,000 that we know of at this point are problematic.

      That is a problem with using social media without doubt. But that equals 0.0004% of those who signed at this point in time.

      And are you saying it shouldn’t be published because of that Bob?

      If so then here’s the real ‘news’ for you. On that basis 99% of what does get published in the main stream media would never ever be published or broadcast because there is about a 10% chance in most news stories of some ‘reasonable doubt’. But publishers go with 90% certainty as much as possible.

      The extra information about 9 scientists from our local Uni signing the declaration was confirmed by email prior to publication.

  3. The “Elephant” in the room .
    You come home enter the kitchen and find you left the sink tap on .
    The sink is overflowing water is everywhere running down the wall covering the floor , you panic grab a mop / bucket / rags / sponge / anything you can think of to clean the mess up .
    WHY NOT JUST TURN THE TAP OFF.
    Suppose its not water pouring out of the tap, instead think its ” People ”
    A baby is born every 8 seconds , and we have got to a stage where we are unable to clean up / fix the world to accommodate this massive increase in population.
    When our history is written and if the world survives the people of the future will look and see the only country that ever tried to address the problem was China with it’s one child policy
    During my life the Worlds population has increased by more than 300% .

    So instead of running around like chickens with our heads cut off trying to appease each other with ideas of “Green Power etc” maybe the only way for mankind to survive is to somehow curb Population growth .

    • Rikki Bekker

      I absolutely agree 100% with what you are getting at Bill. You are quite right human population growth is indeed ‘the elephant in the room’ as you say.

      But isn’t that what the authors are getting at with Point 6 of their clear steps to mitigate climate change?

      Namely;

      “Population: Stabilise global population, which is increasing by more than 200,000 people a day – but do so in a way that is socially and economically fair.”?

      On a possibly related matter, I have typed this while a dust cloud, combined with smoke from nearby fires and ash the size of 50 cent coins drops from the sky goes thorough Coffs Harbour.

      This is something that seems to be getting more common than I previously remember. I wonder if there is any data on the causes of this phenomenon?

  4. This is a rehash of the same paper published in 2017 (Note: at that point it claimed 15,000 signatures – now it has shrunk 25%. Curious). To delve into into some of the data handling issues, a fairly short analysis of the salient points can be made here: http://joannenova.com.au/2019/11/doomsday-poll-shrinks-now-just-11000-metoo-scientists-say-panic-now/
    If we don’t maintain scientific integrity, we lose trust.

  5. The link to Jo Nova was to give ‘layman term clarity’ to the discussion. Those that like in-depth research may find this more to their liking (warning, this is very science intensive). https://friendsofscience.org/index.php?id=681
    The duty of science is to always ask questions. Consensus is the realm of politics.
    I just urge all to keep an open mind. Beliefs are irrelevant. The facts will talk for themselves.

    • S. Hutheheck, your views are right up there with David Irving and Christopher Monckton. Assuming you live locally, just stick your “universtity graduate” head out the window and have a big gulp of air. Notice anything? It’s been like that for weeks. I’ve lived on the north coast for over 50 years and have never experienced anything like the climate, weather patterns, bushfires and drought we’ve experienced during the last 10 years. Nothing to do with human induced climate change from industrial pollution of the planet? Just look at similar catastrophic events occurring all around the world. No need for peer reviewed analysis to convince most of us that 11,000 OR 15,000 scientists might be on to something and given what’s happening to climate and weather worldwide their advice is worth heeding EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG! You probably belong to the same political persuasion as Slomo and abbot Abbott and likewise consumed by your own deluded beliefs. You should keep your ‘educated’, head-in-the sand, climate change denialist views to yourself unless you can unequivocally rule it out.

  6. I am very sorry that GOOSE needs to resort to name-calling. The lack of civility is disturbing. For the record, I certainly believe in climate change – it has been changing for millenia, and will certainly continue to do so. The thing that upsets me is sloppy work, including open quizzes on social media, especially without controls and checks. This discredits science and any arguments that use it, which is the point I was making. FYI I have spent over thirty years rambling through the Guy Fawkes National Park, and I have a fondness for a small colony of rock wallabies living in there. I have noted in recent years an alarming increase in ground fuel loads and lack of fire trail maintenance. It horrifies me to see the destruction wrought on the native animals by the ferocity of the fires. The current drought conditions primed that load, and exacerbated the end result. All factors need to be objectively addressed. It is important to note that the Australian bush is fire adapted. Banksias for instance will not open and set seed until they are burnt. I am inclined to believe that by not respecting the traditional aboriginal fire-stick methods of control, we have tampered with the system and contributed to the problem.
    As to the current drought and heat waves, history shows this is not unique in Australia. In the scheme of things, we are only here for a relatively short time and may not witness some of the extremes, including the heat wave in South-East Australia in the period of Dec. 1895- Jan. 1896, which killed 437 people, and the heat wave in Victoria from Dec.1938 – Feb. 1939, which killed 438 people and sparked ‘Black Friday’ bushfires. (Ref. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_disasters_in_Australia_by_death_toll).

    • I’m sorry if you find my “lack of civility” disappointing, but I too am offended by your ostentatious scientific expertise while peddling whackey theories such as human induced climate change is a conspiracy invented by scientists to get funding and by the media so they can sell their product.

      And as you are so fond of referencing material, such as that from the Friends of Science, I refer you to: https://en.wikipedia.org_friendsofscience and also include an extract, drawing your particular attention to the last sentence.

      “Friends of Science is a non-profit advocacy organization based in Canada. The organization rejects the established scientific conclusion that humans are largely responsible for the currently observed global warming. Rather, they propose that “the Sun is the main direct and indirect driver of climate change,” not human activity. They argued against the Kyoto Protocol.[1] The society was founded in 2002 and launched its website in October of that year.[2][3] THEY ARE LARGELY FUNDED BY THE FOSSIL FUEL INDUSTRY”

      So S.Hudahec, you need to be more careful from where you source your material and to quote your very own pretentious words – “I find this type of sensationalist and sloppy work seriously erodes respect from the community.”

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