MOUNTAIN VIEW, California, May 23, 2013 (ENS) – Warning that Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point at which human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm to our planet, California Governor Jerry Brown today joined more than 500 scientists to release a call to action on climate change and other global threats to all humanity.
“This is not just about science, this is about activism,” said Governor Brown. “This is an important challenge, cause and undertaking. We can do it, but we have to do a lot more than we’re doing now.”
But California environmentalists are disappointed that Governor Brown is not doing more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in his own state.
They are critical of the governor’s decision to use $500 million of cap-and-trade revenue collected under California’s groundbreaking law governing these emissions, to balance the state budget.
Governor Brown and the scientists released the call to action at the fourth annual Water, Energy and Smart Technology Summit and Showcase at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View.
The WEST Summit is Sustainable Silicon Valley’s largest annual event, serving the organization’s mission to lead the Silicon Valley community to a more sustainable future.
The 20-page consensus statement, produced at the governor’s urging and signed by more than 500 concerned scientists, translates key scientific findings from disparate fields into one unified message for policymakers, industry and the general public.
This statement aims to improve the connection between scientific research and political action on climate change.
The call to action identifies five key threats to the habitable environment that policymakers must address now to avoid the degradation of humanity’s relative health and prosperity along with broad solutions to the challenges outlined:
• Climate change – Forecasts show that Earth will be hotter than the human species has ever experienced by the year 2070.
• Extinctions – At the current rate of species extinction, the world will see the loss of 75 percent of vertebrate species within as little as three centuries.
• Loss of ecosystems – As of 2012, more than 40 percent of Earth’s ice-free lands have been changed by human activity, causing species extinction and other impacts to Earth’s biodiversity.
• Pollution – Increasing levels of toxic substances in the environment put over 100 million people at direct risk of health problems.
• Population growth and consumption – Human population growth contributes to global environmental disruption by adding greenhouse gases and toxic pollutants to the environment and altering ecosystems.
“By the time today’s children reach middle age, extremely likely that Earth’s life-support systems, critical for human prosperity and existence, will be irretrievably damaged by the magnitude, global extent, and combination of these human-caused environmental stressors, unless we take concrete, immediate actions to ensure a sustainable, high-quality future,” the consensus statement warns.
The full text of the statement and the list of the more than 500 scientists who signed the document are available on the Millennium Alliance for Humanity and the Biosphere website.
The signatories hail from 44 countries and include two Nobel laureates, 33 members of the U.S. National Academy of the Sciences and members of international scientific academies.
The statement’s lead writer is Dr. Anthony Barnosky, University of California, Berkeley, professor of integrative biology. Barnosky was the lead author of a scientific paper in 2012 that warned Earth is dangerously close to a tipping point at which climate change is fundamentally altering the biological make-up of the planet.
“Earth is at a tipping point,” said Barnosky. “The interaction of climate change, elevated extinction rates, ecosystem loss, environmental contamination, human population growth, and the increasing per-capita human footprint are driving our planet towards abrupt changes never before experienced in human history.”
“How we mitigate and manage these interacting environmental impacts will determine whether or not human quality of life declines over the next few decades,” he said.
“An international group of prominent scientists has now begun work to communicate this message to the political leaders of the world. This is not the first time scientists have alerted decision makers,” Barnosky said, “but now it is done much more forcefully by bringing in much new – and alarming – scientific insight about the environmental changes currently taking place and how this is profoundly affecting humanity.”