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The untold suffering of the world

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Most of us find hard to believe in the horrific reality of the climate change crisis, for it doesn't directly affect their lives. But some of the world's people face suffering due to this crisis, according to a stark warning from more than 11,000 scientists.

“The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected. It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity.”

The statement is published in the journal BioScience on the 40th anniversary of the first world climate conference held in Geneva in 1979. The scientists say the urgent changes needed to include ending population growth, leaving fossil fuels in the ground, halting forest destruction and slashing meat eating.

Prof William Ripple, of Oregon State University said he was driven to initiate it by the increase in extreme weather he was seeing. A key aim of the warning is to set out a full range of “vital sign” indicators of the causes and effects of climate breakdown, rather than only carbon emissions and surface temperature rise.

A man uses a garden hose to try to save his home from wildfire in Granada Hills, California, on 11 October 2019. Photograph: Michael Owen Baker/AP

You don’t have to be rocket scientist to see this graph and understand that things need to change. On top of this we have warnings of the dangers of pollution and a looming mass extinction of wildlife.

These are some urgently needed actions that were set:

  • Use energy far more efficiently and apply strong carbon taxes to cut fossil fuel use

  • Stabilise global population – currently growing by 200,000 people a day – using ethical approaches such as longer education for girls

  • End the destruction of nature and restore forests and mangroves to absorb CO2

  • Eat mostly plants and less meat, and reduce food waste

  • Shift economic goals away from GDP growth

To avoid vast human misery, we need to go beyond just research and publishing, and reach directly to the citizens and policymakers.

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