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31 Vital Signs of the Earth Researched, The Results Are Worrying


An international team of scientists, led by Oregon State University (OSU) and the Global Systems Institute (GSI) at the University of Exeter, tracked the Earth’s 31 vital signs. The result is worrying.

From this study, as many as 18 vital signs recorded a decline, even breaking records. These records include the highest concentrations of greenhouse gases, methane and nitrogen oxides, as well as the lowest ever ice masses in Greenland and Antarctica.

The authors highlight these vital signs as follows:

  • 2020 was the second hottest year in history, with the five hottest years on record all occurring since 2015
  • In April 2021, carbon dioxide concentrations reached 416 parts per million. This is the highest monthly global average concentration ever recorded
  • Brazil’s Amazon Amazon annual forest loss rate increased in 2019 and 2020, reaching its highest level in 12 years with 1.11 million hectares of deforestation in 2020
  • Ocean acidification is near an all-time record, along with rising temperatures. It threatens the coral reefs on which more than half a billion people depend for food, tourism and storm surge protection.

It’s not all bad records. The good news is that fossil fuel divestments and fossil fuel subsidies have increased significantly. Researchers are adamantly calling for a halt to the use of fossil fuels, and a global carbon price that is high enough to encourage widespread decarbonization.

“There is increasing evidence that we are approaching or have exceeded tipping points associated with important parts of the Earth system, including warm-water coral reefs, the Amazon rainforest and the West Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets,” said William Ripple, distinguished professor of ecology at OSU. College of Forestry.

“We must stop treating the climate emergency as a stand-alone problem. Global warming is not the only symptom of our increasingly stressed Earth system.”

He stressed that policies to combat the climate crisis or other symptoms must address the root cause: human overexploitation of the planet.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had side effects that have contributed little to slowing the impact of the climate crisis. However, this will not last long. A key lesson from the pandemic, the authors say, is that even massive reductions in transportation and consumption are not enough to cope with the effects of climate change. On the other hand, transformational system changes are needed, even if they are politically unpopular.

The research team, which includes collaborators from the US, UK, Australia, France, the Netherlands, Bangladesh and Germany, calls for a “three-pronged short-term policy approach” that includes globally applied carbon pricing, fossil fuel cessation and bans, and strategic climate reserves. to maintain and restore natural carbon sinks and biodiversity.

“The price of carbon needs to be linked to socially equitable funds to finance climate mitigation and adaptation policies in developing countries,” Ripple said.

“We need to urgently change the way we do things, and new climate policies should be part of the COVID-19 recovery plan wherever possible. It’s time for us to move together as a global community with a shared sense of cooperation, urgency and equality,” he concluded. .

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