Scientific Study Warns That Our Planet Requires Immediate Action


Scientific Study Warns That Our Planet Requires Immediate Action

The planet is struggling. Study after study, scientists warn that we have pushed far beyond the physical boundaries of what the living world can sustain.

From rapidly increasing temperature extremes leading to disastrous weather - such as record-breaking droughts and unprecedented fires - to ecosystem collapses and plastic choked oceans, it is painfully clear something massive has got to be changed. And still, most governments are waiting for all of it to make economic sense before they finally take action.

In light of that, a background document for the UN's draft Global Sustainable Development Report 2019 says that we seriously need to make drastic changes to our economic systems.

As the researchers wrote in the document: "The economic models which inform political decision-making in rich countries almost completely disregard the energetic and material dimensions of the economy."

"Economies have used up the capacity of planetary ecosystems to handle the waste generated by energy and material use."

This means that perhaps it's time to accept we cannot somehow maintain endless economic growth on a finite world.

The UN report is overseen by a team of independent scientists from various disciplines around the globe.

This document for the chapter of the report named Transformation: The Economy, has been written by scientists from environmental fields, like ecosystem scientist Jussi Eronen from the University of Helsinki, as well as business economic, and philosophy researchers, like economist Paavo Järvensivu from Finland's independent BIOS research unit.

Not only we've reached the point where using our water, land, and atmosphere as a large-scale "landfill" is no longer viable, the document is warning that our current economic systems are bringing about critically expanding gaps between the rich people and poor around the world.

This is causing a rise in unemployment, and debt that is all contributing to destabilizing our societies.

In fact, data demonstrates continuing to pursue economic growth in wealthy nations does not continue to improve wellbeing, as ecological economist Dan O'Neill explained for The Conversation.

Yet, the notion of changing our economic system to fit within the physical limits of our reality is viewed as highly controversial and is not something many policymakers will discuss.

Meanwhile, we are failing to meet the Paris agreement to hold temperatures within two degrees Celsius of warming above pre-industrial times.

Each indication from scientists is that we only have two options: either make widespread drastic yet controlled changes to the method by which we live or continue as we are, blundering towards disaster.

It isn't the first time humans have had to rally and find unique solutions to extraordinary scientific challenges. UN's document points out that the US Apollo program succeeded only because the government had set a clear mission and then discovered ways to achieve the funding and research required.

They did not wait for market-based mechanisms to make the Moon landing happen. Journalist Naomi Klein, who is the author of This Changes Everything: Capitalism Vs. the Climate, states "we humans are capable of organizing ourselves into all kinds of different social orders, including societies with much longer time horizons and far more respect for natural life-support systems."

Nobody is suggesting we revert to technology-less societies. The idea instead is to learn from various ways of living that have proven track records of longevity. From there, we can discover new and better ways forward with the help of our advanced technologies.

Klein thinks that we need to see this need to transition our economies as a chance to shape them for the better, an opportunity for us to create both a fairer and more sustainable world.

Järvensivu and colleagues also point out that to transition societies in time to prevent hurtling ourselves beyond the critical two degrees Celsius threshold of warming, it'll take an emergency scale response.

That echoes warnings from other scientists: "Incremental linear changes … are not enough to stabilize the biosphere. Widespread, rapid and huge fundamental transformations will likely be required to significantly reduce the risk of crossing the threshold."

As discussed by one the top Harvard atmospheric scientist James Anderson, such a response could look like a World War II type of transformation of industry, just on steroids.

Meanwhile, experts around the globe are exploring alternative ways in which we can set up our economic systems, like Doughnut Economics, Post Growth Economics, Steady State Economy, and Prosperity without Growth - and Järvensivu and colleagues have asked forward-thinking leaders on Earth to start testing possible transitional strategies, as a universal job guarantee.

According to Science Alert, these suggestions are pretty daunting. However, if we humans have proven anything with our time on the planet so far, it is that we can achieve unbelievable things when we work together.


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Thinking Humanity: Scientific Study Warns That Our Planet Requires Immediate Action
Scientific Study Warns That Our Planet Requires Immediate Action
The planet is struggling. Study after study, scientists warn that we have pushed far beyond the physical boundaries of what the living world can sustain.
Thinking Humanity
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