We are turning earth uninhabitable!

We are turning earth uninhabitable!

Delhi has dubious distinction of being the world capital of pollution without any solution in sight. But our attitude is that we find solace in the...

Delhi has dubious distinction of being the world capital of pollution without any solution in sight. But our attitude is that we find solace in the fact that whole world's people are going face 'untold suffering due to the climate crisis' in the coming times according to more than 11,000 scientists.

Wise people from 153 countries suggested major transformations as the only way out. The statement was published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference, held in Geneva in 1979.

"We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency to secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live. This entails major transformations in the ways our global society functions and interacts with natural ecosystems.

There is no time to lose, the climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity."

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University, who penned the statement for all scientists said he was driven to initiate it to set out a full range of 'vital sign' indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown, rather than only carbon emissions and surface temperature rise. He pointed out to human population growth, meat consumption, tree-cover loss, energy consumption, fossil-fuel subsidies and annual economic losses to extreme weather events".

The scientists found other profoundly troubling signs from booming air passenger and that the climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. Some other disturbing trends were - increasing land and ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and extreme weather events.

These can pose potential threat with disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, turning the Earth uninhabitable." "We urge widespread use of the vital signs to allow policymakers and the public to understand the magnitude of the crisis, realign priorities and track progress," the scientists said.

Still, scientists say, it is not too late as they see a ray hope in decreasing global birth rates, increasing solar and wind power and fossil fuel divestment and slight reduction of rates of forest destruction in the Amazon.

Along with threatening with dangers forthcoming, the scientists also found some solutions for the people and policy makers to prioritise. They are: (1) Use energy far more efficiently and apply strong carbon taxes to cut fossil fuel use (2) Stabilise global population – currently growing by 200,000 people a day – using ethical approaches such as longer education for girls, (3) End the destruction of nature and restore forests and mangroves to absorb CO2, (4) Eat mostly plants and less meat, and reduce food waste, (5) Shift economic goals away from GDP growth.

The threat of mass extinction of wildlife on Earth was made in 2017. More than 16,000 scientists from 184 countries published a letter warning that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course."

The scientists felt they have a moral obligation to issue warnings of catastrophic threats: "It is more important than ever that we speak out, based on evidence. It is time to go beyond just research and publishing, and to go directly to the citizens and policymakers."

Phoebe Barnard, the chief science and policy officer at the Conservation Biology Institute, a non-profit science group, said the report makes it clear "there's no more wiggle room" for policymakers.

Posterity will remember them badly for dismissing climate change as a serious threat to our civilisation". Barnard said the changes suggested shouldn't be seen as "sacrifices," but as a way of "transforming things that we have found stressful. Everything from road rage and congestion and dirty air".

A group of scientists and professionals in climate and related fields sent a letter on to the United Nations on Sept. 23, 2019 declaring that "The general-circulation models of climate on which international policy is at present founded are unfit for their purpose," the letter, sent to Secretary-General António Guterres, states: "Therefore, it is cruel as well as imprudent to advocate the squandering of trillions of dollars on the basis of results from such immature models."

More than 500 prominent scientists and professionals from related fields such as atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen and applied geology professor Alberto Prestininzi signed the letter. This effort was initiated by Prof Guus Berkhout, a Dutch engineer who served as professor of acoustics, geophysics, and innovation management at the Delft University of Technology.

They stated: Current climate policies undermine the economic system and put lives at risk by denying countries affordable energy. We urge you to follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics, and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation".

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg told the UN Climate summit that the planet is in the beginning stage of "mass extinction" that was organised in September. The scientists point out that the warming projected by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show temperature increases four times higher than the warming that was actually observed.

It may be recalled that the IPCC has previously declared that its climate models can't be used to accurately predict long-term changes in the climate. The Berkhout-led letter follows a petition by more than 90 Italian scientists, publicised in June, which challenges the assertion that humans cause global warming as a theory based on models that have failed to adequately predict climate changes.

But in India, we are busy blaming each other, talking about something which is more interesting for politics and power, not economy and ecology. Where are our policy makers, national leaders and political aspirants to rule? Are they listening to warnings of the scientists about looming climate crisis?

At the same time, the people are also not in a mood to heed the cautions the trends of consumption are categorically presented. We do not reduce our meat eating, do not care to stop the growth rate of population, do not mind felling of trees or burning fossil fuels for luxury cars and flying by air without any respite.

(The writer is former Central Information Commissioner and Dean, Bennett University)

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