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Earth’s ‘vital signs’ worse than ever before – report

Scientists say that life on the planet is “under siege”

A team of scientists warned in a research paper published on Tuesday that the “vital signs” that signify the health of our planet are currently worse than at any time in human history.

The study published in the journal Bioscience is an update of a 2019 analysis that 15,000 scientists across the globe had supported and stated that 20 of 35 crucial indicators used to track anthropogenic climate change are at record highs.

“Without actions that address the root problem of humanity taking more from Earth than it can safely give, we’re on our way to the potential collapse of natural and socioeconomic systems and a world with unbearable heat and shortages of food,” said Dr. Christopher Wolf of Oregon State University (OSU), the lead author of the report.

In addition to surging greenhouse gas emissions, the study found that rising global temperatures and sea levels are key indicators of the Earth’s ill health. Other factors also include high human and livestock population levels. The researchers’ findings echo a separate report released last month, which concluded that Earth is “well outside the safe operating space for humanity.”

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Researchers said the latest study comes during a year in which several climate records were smashed, including global air temperatures, ocean temperatures, and ice levels in the Southern Ocean. In July, scientists recorded the highest monthly air surface temperature ever registered – likely the hottest the planet has experienced in 100,000 years.

“By 2100, as many as 3 to 6 billion people may find themselves outside Earth’s liveable regions,” Dr. Wolf explained, adding that increasingly large numbers of people “will be encountering severe heat, limited food availability, and elevated mortality rates.”

The report also states that “for several decades,” the scientific community has been sounding the alarm about humanity’s impact on worsening climate conditions. “Unfortunately, time is up,” it says.

The scientists also highlighted severe flooding in China and India, as well as a powerful Mediterranean storm that led to the deaths of thousands of people in Libya, as further examples of deteriorating climate conditions.

As for potential actions to mitigate the worsening effects of climate change, the paper calls for removing fossil fuel subsidies, increasing forest protection, and moving towards a more plant-based diet for wealthy individuals. It also calls for phasing out oil and gas and gradually reducing the human population via family planning.

“Life on our planet is clearly under siege,” concluded Prof. William Ripple, also of OSU. “It is a moral duty of scientists and our institutions to alert humanity of any potential existential threat and to show leadership is taking action.”

 

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