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Earth is in the midst of a climate emergency, OSU researchers warn

KOIN Portland 10/26/2022 John Ross Ferrara
Earth is in the midst of a climate emergency, OSU researchers warn © Provided by KOIN Portland Earth is in the midst of a climate emergency, OSU researchers warn

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – A new report written by an international coalition of researchers, including two scientists from Oregon State University, warns that the Earth is in the midst of a climate emergency.

Published in the scientific journal BioScience on Wednesday, the report states that 16 of the 35 planetary vital signs used to track climate change are at record extremes. This includes an increase in "extreme heat events," a decrease in global tree cover caused by wildfires and a spike in the prevalence of the mosquito-borne dengue virus.

OSU College of Forestry Professor William Ripple and postdoctoral researcher Christopher Wolf led the report, which is a follow-up to Ripple’s 2017 report “World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice."

"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," Wolf said. "We implore our fellow scientists to join us in advocating for research-based approaches to climate and environmental decision-making."

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Co-authors Saleemul Huq of Independent University Bangladesh said that climate change isn't the only human-caused problem impacting the Earth.

"Climate change is not a standalone issue," Huq said. "It is part of a larger systemic problem of ecological overshoot where human demand is exceeding the regenerative capacity of the biosphere. 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."

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In the wake of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the world is reportedly experiencing large increases in fossil fuel consumption, causing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to rise to 418 parts per million — the highest on record, the report states.

Greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 40% worldwide since the original "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" report was published in 1992. Thirty years later, the warning signs have become apparent, scientists say.

"Look at all of these fires, floods and massive storms," Ripple said. "The specter of climate change is at the door and pounding hard."

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