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Climate change has pushed Earth to “code red”

According to a new report by an international team of scientists led by the Oregon State University (OSU), our planet’s vital signs have reached “code red” and “humanity is unequivocally facing a climate emergency.” The experts argue that 16 out of 35 planetary vital signs that they use to track climate change are currently at record extremes, including heatwaves, rising global tree cover loss due to wildfires, a greater prevalence of mosquito-borne infectious diseases, and atmospheric carbon dioxide levels (which have now reached 418 parts per million – the highest ever recorded).

“Look at all of these heat waves, fires, floods and massive storms,” said report lead author William Ripple, a professor of Ecology at OSU. “The specter of climate change is at the door and pounding hard.” 

“As we can see by the annual surges in climate disasters, we are now in the midst of a major climate crisis, with far worse to come if we keep doing things the way we’ve been doing them,” added co-author Christopher Wolf, a postdoctoral fellow in Global Change and Biodiversity Conservation at the same university.

The report authors point out that in the three decades since over 1,700 scientists signed the original “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” in 1992, global greenhouse emissions have increased by 40 percent. However, as co-author Saleemul Huq – an expert in climate change at the Independent University of Bangladesh – put it, global warming is not a standalone issue. “To avoid more untold human suffering, we need to protect nature, eliminate most fossil fuel emissions, and support socially just climate adaptations with a focus on low-income areas that are most vulnerable,” he said.

“As Earth’s temperatures are creeping up, the frequency or magnitude of some types of climate disasters may actually be leaping up. We urge our fellow scientists around the world to speak out on climate change,” concluded co-author Thomas Newsome, an expert in Ecology and Conservation at the University of Sydney.

The “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency 2022” is published in the journal BioScience.

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By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer

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