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Two Years After Declaring Climate Emergency, Scientists Say It's Even Worse

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Charl Folscher/Unsplash

Two years ago, more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries declared a climate emergency. They did so in a report that said scientists have "a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to 'tell it like it is.'"

Now, they say things look even worse.

An updated version of the report was recently published in the journal BioScience, and included an additional 2,800 scientists' signatures.

The study evaluated 31 variables, like ocean changes and energy use. It found that over half are at new all-time record lows or highs.

For example, in April 2021, carbon dioxide concentration reached 416 parts per million—the highest monthly global average concentration ever recorded. Glaciers are losing 31% more snow and ice per year than they did just 15 years ago, a rate that is much faster than previously believed.

And for the first time, the world's ruminant livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) passed four billion, which represents much more mass than all humans and wild mammals combined.

The findings were shocking to lead author William Ripple of Oregon State University.

"The shutdown during the pandemic helped in terms of greenhouse gas emissions," he said. "But it was not nearly enough. And it was just too short in terms of timeline."

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With so many variables moving in the wrong direction, the paper calls for big, transformative changes. That includes eliminating fossil fuels and switching to mostly plant-based diets.

The group plans to update its findings on a regular basis.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2021 Wyoming Public Radio. To see more, visit Wyoming Public Radio.

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