This is the opening line of a new analysis published in the journal Bioscience. The analysis – The 2023 state of the climate report: Entering uncharted territory – is an update of a 2019 report that has been endorsed by 15,000 scientists.
The analysis, by an international group of scientists, found that 20 of Earth’s 35 planetary vital signs are at record extremes, including many climate records being exceeded by large margins this year. Their research shows that “the continued pursuit of business as usual has, ironically, led to unprecedented pressure on the Earth system, resulting in many climate-related variables entering uncharted territory.”
The scientists offer a number of recommendations, including on economics, halting planetary warming, stopping coal consumption, climate feedback loops, food security and undernourishment, and social justice.
The paper concludes that “we must shift our perspective on the climate emergency from being just an isolated environmental issue to a systemic, existential threat. Although global heating is devastating, it represents only one aspect of the escalating and interconnected environmental crisis that we are facing (e.g., biodiversity loss, fresh water scarcity, pandemics). We need policies that target the underlying issues of ecological overshoot where the human demand on Earth’s resources results in overexploitation of our planet and biodiversity decline. As long as humanity continues to exert extreme pressure on the Earth, any attempted climate-only solutions will only redistribute this pressure.”