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In an article recently published in Bioscience, over 11,000 climate scientists were signatories to a statement declaring that society is experiencing a “climate emergency” and calling on decisionmakers to take concrete actions to address climate change. The article reviewed 40 years of insufficient global action since the First World Climate Conference in 1979 and asserted an “immense increase of scale in endeavors to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering.”

The paper is critical of the current discourse surrounding climate change and presents graphic representations of 29 trends associated with the changing climate over the last 40 years, such as energy consumption, global tree cover loss and ocean acidity. Its authors called discussions of global surface temperatures “inadequate” and stated “[p]olicymakers and the public now urgently need access” to these indicators, which “convey the effects of human activities on GHG emissions and the consequent impacts on climate, our environment, and society.”

The paper identified six areas that require urgent, collective action: energy, short-lived pollutants, nature, food, economy, and population. Suggested actions to address these areas included expanding access to family planning resources, reversing deforestation worldwide, moving collectively to a plant-based diet, and limiting the emissions of short-lived pollutants like methane. The authors assigned responsibility for these actions broadly, stating “prospects will be greatest if decision-makers and all of humanity promptly respond to this warning and declaration of a climate emergency and act to sustain life.”