Scientists send yet another warning against climate change

More than 1.700 scientists worldwide have co-authored a paper in 1992 in which humanity is warned against the disastrous effects of climate change. The scientists have recently looked at what has been done in the past 25 years to mitigate climate change and prevent the disastrous forecasts from affecting society and environment. Based on this recent activity, more scientists are supporting the claims that were made in the ‘World Scientst’ Warning to Humanity’.

The paper has recently been published by the American Institute of Biological Sciences. The warning states that climate change has become more urgent in the past few years, due to an increasing amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere as caused by fossil fuels. Agriculture and specifically the meat industry have been mentioned in the paper as one of the culprits of climate change. The scientists provide an overview of the environmental issues that we might be dealing with more and more in the years to come.

1. Freshwater sources will become less available

The chart that is attached to the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity shows that freshwater sources are decreasing per capita (1.000 cubic meters) in comparison to the availability of the sources in 1960. According to the scientists, global warming has a great impact on hydraulic cycles which in turn affects the availability of freshwater sources. This means that water sources will further decrease worldwide in the coming years.

2. Increase of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere

The wide use of fossil fuels around the world has led to greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide. The use of fossil fuels has increased rapidly since the beginning of 1960, which means that the carbon dioxide concentrations has increased since then. This causes the global temperature to rise. Research shows that the years with the highest temperatures have occurred after 1998. In The Netherlands, 2016 has been measured as the year with the highest temperature ever since the beginning of the climate measurement in 1851. The measurements have been conducted by the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute. According to the institute, the global temperature rise is caused by increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

3. Damage to marine ecosystems

The plastic soup in the ocean is not the only problem that affects marine ecosystems. Extinction of marine species due to fishing, decreasing fish populations and so-called ocean dead zones are also listed as environmental issues. These ocean dead zones have increased in large numbers since 1960. More than 600 marine ecosystems were affected until 2010, according to prior research.

4. Loss of biodiversity

Based on research conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), it appears that the amount of vertebrates in the world have decreased by 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. This research has been confirmed by the scientists that have co-authored the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. The main cause of biodiversity loss is the devastation and decrease of vertebrate habitats. For example, deforestation for the development of food products, such as palm oil, contribute to the devastation of vertebrate habitats.

5. World population growth and the rise of the middle class

The authors of the World Scientists Warning to Humanity do not only discuss the growth of the world population, but also the rise of the middle class that is happening worldwide. On the one hand, this is a positive development, because it means that the lives of many people are improving around the world. On the other hand, a rising middle class means that people can purchase more goods that can harm the environment, such as petrol and diesel vehicles.

What is going well?

Fortunately, the scientist are not only talking about potential disasters that are caused by environmental issues, such as climate change. The good news is that the hole in the ozone layer is becoming smaller thanks to the ban on ozone depleting chemicals. Moreover, the use of renewable energy is increasing around the world and many initiatives that counteract deforestation have shown success.

Based on research conducted by the Dutch Central Bureau for the Statistics (CBS), Renewable energy use in the Netherlands has increased by 5 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year. Another research by the sustainable energy platform REN21 shows that the worldwide capacity of renewable energy use has increased with 9 percent in 2016. The energy platform consists of international organizations such as the World Bank, the European Commission and Greenpeace. REN21 also states that 20 till 30 percent of the energy needs of countries such as Portugal and Ireland are met with sustainable energy.

How can organizations contribute to the solution?

After a summation of all the obstacles that both the environment and society will face in the coming years, the scientists provide us with possible solutions to these environmental issues. Number one on the list of solutions for climate change is diminishing greenhouse gas emissions, carbon dioxide in particular, by means of energy savings and the use of sustainable energy sources.

In order to keep global warming at 2 degrees Celsius, as stated in the Paris Climate Agreement, organizations must contribute to the fight against climate change. This can be done by structurally reducing their CO2 emission levels and increasing the use of renewable energy. The CO2 Performance Ladder provides organizations that are willing to fight against climate change with a solution. The CO2 management system helps organizations to keep their CO2 emissions at a minimum and contributes to processes that reduce emissions on a yearly basis. Prior research shows that Dutch organizations certified on the CO2 Performance Ladder reduce their carbon emissions twice more (3,2 percent) than the average level of CO2 reduction in the Netherlands (1,5 percent).