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Global ‘climate emergency’ blamed on rich countries, ‘wealthy lifestyles’

Amazon forest fires spread at alarming rate in Brazil. (Source: Getty)

Tens of thousands of scientists from around the world have issued a warning to humanity of a ‘climate emergency’ – saying greed is to blame.

In a paper published in the BioScience journal penned by five scientists and signed by 11,258 other scientists from 153 countries, the scientists declared “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency”.

And the main culprits are the earth’s wealthiest countries.

“The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions,” the scientists wrote in the paper.

There are “profoundly troubling signs” in the increase in human and livestock population numbers, meat production, world GDP, fossil fuel consumption, commercial flights, and carbon dioxide emissions, they stated.

“Especially disturbing” are other climatic indicators such as the continual increase in greenhouse gases, global surface temperature, and the disappearance of ice in the Arctic sea, Greenland, and Antarctica.

But business leaders have largely sat on their hands, they said.

“Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations, with few exceptions, we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament,” the scientists wrote.

Additionally, the “climate crisis” – now rapidly approaching faster than scientists expected – will have consequences for world economies.

“These climate chain reactions could cause significant disruptions to ecosystems, society, and economies, potentially making large areas of Earth uninhabitable.”

Economic, population growth blamed

The scientists said a sustainable future would require us to change how we live, and that would mean curbing economic and population.

“Economic and population growth are among the most important drivers of increases in CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion; therefore, we need bold and drastic transformations regarding economic and population policies.”

The paper outlined six areas where policy would need to be overhauled to mitigate the effects of climate change, including energy, pollution, food, nature, economy, and population.

“Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere,” the scientists stated.

“We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly.

“Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritising basic needs and reducing inequality.”

Regarding population, the number of people in the world is increasing by roughly 80 million every year – that’s 200,000 every day.

“The world population must be stabilised—and, ideally, gradually reduced—within a framework that ensures social integrity,” the scientists said.

There are policies that can strengthen human rights while simultaneously lowering fertility rates and lessening the impact of population growth on greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.

Family planning services should be made available to everyone, barriers to access should be removed and “full gender equity” should be achieved including education opportunities for everyone, particularly girls and young women, according to the scientists.

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