In 2020, a report backed by 15,000 scientists declared a climate emergency. Three years on, the plant’s vital signs and drivers of climate change discussed in the report have been revisited, and the picture is worse than before.
Published in the journal Bioscience, the new report reveals that 20 of the 35 vital signs used to gauge the health of our planet are at record extremes. This isn't just about rising global temperatures and sea levels; it encompasses everything from greenhouse gas emissions to human and livestock population numbers.
In 2023 alone, climate records were shattered by enormous margins. July saw the highest monthly surface temperature ever recorded, which experts say is likely the hottest the Earth has been in 100,000 years. The Antarctic sea ice extent decreased alarmingly, and both global air and ocean temperatures rose steeply.
Last year, Canada experienced an unprecedented wildfire season. The carbon emissions from these fires were equivalent to the entire annual output of Japan, the world’s fifth biggest polluter. This grim milestone suggests we may have reached a tipping point, plunging us into a new and hazardous fire regime.
The report is unequivocal in its call for a radical overhaul of our global economic systems. It highlights the staggering inequality in emissions: nearly 50% of global emissions in 2019 were produced by the richest 10% of the population. This should serve as a wake-up call for industries and individuals alike to reassess their consumption habits.
Unless immediate action is taken, by 2100, up to 6 billion people could find themselves living in regions unsuitable for human habitation, encountering extreme heat, food scarcity, and elevated mortality rates. This goes beyond mere numbers; it's about the quality of life and compassion for the humans of the present and future.
Scientists have been waving the red flag for decades, warning us of the dire consequences of our activities on the planet. Yet, the message still seems to be falling on deaf ears. This is not a time for complacency or denial; it’s a time for decisive action.
Businesses have a major role to play in mitigating the worst of the climate crisis. It has been proven, time and time again, that current government targets and business mandates are not strong enough to curb the looming danger. Organisations need to be proactive and lead the world’s mitigation efforts, not just sit and wait until they are required to change.
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