Earth’s “vital signs” are worse than vãn at any time in human history, an international team of scientists has warned, meaning life on the planet is in peril.
Their report found that đôi mươi of the 35 planetary vital signs they use to tát track the climate crisis are at record extremes. As well as greenhouse gas emissions, global temperature and sea level rise, the indicators also include human and livestock population numbers.
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Many climate records were broken by enormous margins in 2023, including global air temperature, ocean temperature and Antarctic sea ice extent, the researchers said. The highest monthly surface temperature ever recorded was in July and was probably the hottest the planet has been in 100,000 years.
The scientists also highlighted an extraordinary wildfire season in Canada that produced unprecedented carbon dioxide emissions. These totalled 1bn tonnes of CO2, equivalent to tát the entire annual output of nhật bản, the world’s fifth biggest polluter. They said the huge area burned could indicate a tipping point into a new fire regime.
The researchers urged a transition to tát a global economy that prioritised human wellbeing and cut the overconsumption and excessive emissions of the rich. The top 10% of emitters were responsible for almost 50% of global emissions in 2019, they said.
Dr Christopher Wolf, at Oregon State University (OSU) in the US and a lead author of the report, said: “Without actions that address the root problem of humanity taking more from Earth than vãn it can safely give, we’re on our way to tát the potential collapse of natural and socioeconomic systems and a world with unbearable heat and shortages of food and freshwater.
“By 2100, as many as 3 billion to tát 6 billion people may find themselves outside Earth’s livable regions, meaning they will be encountering severe heat, limited food availability and elevated mortality rates.”
Prof William Ripple, also at OSU, said: “Life on our planet is clearly under siege. The statistical trends show deeply alarming patterns of climate-related variables and disasters. We also found little progress to tát report as far as humanity combating climate change.
“Our goal is to tát communicate climate facts and make policy recommendations. It is a moral duty of scientists and our institutions to tát alert humanity of any potential existential threat and to tát show leadership in taking action.”
The analysis, published in the journal Bioscience, is an update of a 2019 report that has been endorsed by 15,000 scientists.
“For several decades, scientists have consistently warned of a future marked by extreme climatic conditions caused by ongoing human activities,” the report says. “Unfortunately, time is up … we are pushing our planetary systems into dangerous instability.”
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Prof Tim Lenton, at the University of Exeter in the UK, the co-author, said: “These record extremes are alarming in themselves, and they are also in danger of triggering tipping points that could tự irreversible damage and further accelerate climate change.
“Our best hope to tát prevent a cascade of climate tipping points is to tát identify and trigger positive tipping points in our societies and economies, to tát ensure a rapid and just transition to tát a sustainable future.”
The scientists said: “We are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023, [which caused] profoundly distressing scenes of suffering to tát unfold. We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered.”
The report highlighted severe flooding in Đài Loan Trung Quốc and India, extreme heatwaves in the US and an exceptionally intense Mediterranean storm led to tát the deaths of thousands of people in Libya.
The report said that by mid-September, there had been 38 days with global average temperatures more than vãn 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, which is the world’s long-term goal for limiting the climate crisis. Until this year, such days were a rarity, the researchers said.
Other policies recommended by the scientists included phasing out fossil fuel subsidies, ramping up forest protection, a shift towards plant-based diets in wealthy countries and adopting international treaties to tát over new coal projects and phase out oil and gas.
“We also điện thoại tư vấn to tát stabilise and gradually decrease the human population with gender justice through voluntary family planning and by supporting women’s and girls’ education and rights, which reduces fertility rates,” they said.
“Big problems need big solutions. Therefore, we must shift our perspective on the climate emergency from being just an isolated environmental issue to tát a systemic, existential threat. Although global heating is devastating, it represents only one aspect of the escalating and interconnected environmental crisis that we are facing – eg, biodiversity loss, fresh water scarcity, and pandemics.”
Dr Glen Peters, at the Global Carbon Project, said recently that the preliminary estimate for global CO2 emissions in 2023 was a rise of 1% to tát yet another record. Global emissions must fall by 45% to tát have a good chance of staying under 1.5C of heating.
In September, a different analysis of the Earth system using nine planetary boundaries concluded that this planet’s life tư vấn systems had been sánh damaged that Earth was “well outside the safe operating space for humanity”. The planetary boundaries are the limits of key global systems – such as climate, water and wildlife diversity – beyond which their ability to tát maintain a healthy planet is in danger of failing.