According to The Guardian, a group of prominent scientists and economists known as the Earth League have issued a statement deliberately coinciding with Earth Day that warns that “three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must be kept in the ground if humanity is to avoid the worst effects of climate change” — in essence, we must stop what we are doing as soon as possible and start over.
In its “Earth statement”, the group said that three-quarters of known fossil fuel reserves must be left in the ground if warming was not to breach a rise of 2C, the “safety limit” agreed to by governments.
Johan Rockström, the statement’s lead author, said: “From a scientific perspective, 2015 is a decisive moment. The window to navigate ourselves free from a ‘beyond 2C future’ is barely open. It’s the last chance to navigate ourselves towards a desired future.
“It’s so frustrating, because it’s the choice of moving down a business-as-usual route with devastating outcomes for humanity and, at the same time, we have this almost unprecedented opportunity, we can transform the world economy to a fossil fuel-free one and moreover do it in a way that is security and health-wise more attractive”.
The statement says that failure by the world to act on climate change would bring is a one in 10 chance of temperatures rising by more than 6C by 2100, a level of risk that would be comparable with accepting 10,000 plane crashes daily worldwide.
Rockström said there was now enough scientific evidence that the world was approaching irreversible tipping points where the Earth’s system begins to accelerate the warming that man has already caused. Methane being released as permafrost thaws and melting ice meaning less solar energy reflected back into space are two examples.
“That’s the scientific nightmare”, Rockström said. “You don’t want the Earth to go from friend to foe … this could happen quite soon; we need to bend the curve on emissions over the next 10 to 15 years”.
To top it all off, the report also observed that very little progress has been made in this front, meaning that the incredible amount of economic, financial, and political changes required are unlikely to come into fruition any time soon.