A global group of around 11,000 scientists have endorsed research that says the world is facing a climate emergency.
The study, based on 40 years of data on a range of measures, says governments are failing to address the crisis.
Without deep and lasting changes, the world is facing “untold human suffering” the study says.
Released on the day that satellite data shows that last month was the warmest October on record, the new study says that that simply measuring global surface temperatures is an inadequate way of capturing the real dangers of an overheating world.
So the authors include a range of data which they believe represents a “suite of graphical vital signs of climate change over the past 40 years”.
These indicators include the growth of human and animal populations, per capita meat production, global tree cover loss, as well as fossil fuel consumption.
Some progress has been seen in some areas. For example, renewable energy has grown significantly, with consumption of wind and solar increasing 373% per decade – but it was still 28 times smaller than fossil fuel use in 2018.
Taken together, the researchers say most of their vital signs indicators are going in the wrong direction and add up to a climate emergency.
“That could mean there are areas on Earth that are not inhabitable by people.”
How does this differ from other reports on climate change?
The study echoes many of the warnings that have been reported by scientists including the IPCC. The authors set out to present a clear and simple graphical picture of a broader ranger of indicators that can drive home to the public and to governments that the threat is serious while the response has been poor.
What do the authors want to happen now?
The researchers are fed up because multiple climate conferences and assemblies have failed to produce meaningful action. However they believe that the growing, global protest movement offers hope.
“We are encouraged by a recent global surge of concern – governments adopting new policies; schoolchildren striking; lawsuits proceeding; and grassroots citizen movements demanding change.
So what about human population growth?
The idea of trying to influence human population growth is highly controversial and has been deemed too hot to handle by UN negotiators. The authors say that looking the other way is no longer an option.