A new study tracking the planet’s vital signs has found that many of the key indicators of the global climate crisis are getting worse and are either approaching or exceeding key tipping points as the earth heats up.
Overall, the study found some 16 out of 31 tracked planetary vital signs, including greenhouse gas concentrations, ocean heat content and ice mass, set worrying new records. “There is growing evidence we are getting close to or have already gone beyond tipping points associated with important parts of the Earth system,” said William Ripple, an ecologist at Oregon State University who co-authored the new research, in a statement. “The updated planetary vital signs we present largely reflect the consequences of unrelenting business as usual,” said Ripple, adding that “a major lesson from Covid-19 is that even colossally decreased transportation and consumption are not nearly enough and that, instead, transformational system changes are required.”
While the pandemic shut down economies and shifted the way people think about work, school and travel, it did little to reduce the overall global carbon emissions. Fossil fuel use dipped slightly in 2020, but the authors of a report published in the journal BioScience say that carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide “have all set new year-to-date records for atmospheric concentrations in both 2020 and 2021”.
In April 2021, carbon dioxide concentration reached 416 parts per million, the highest monthly global average concentration ever recorded. The five hottest years on record have all occurred since 2015, and 2020 was the second hottest year in history.
Good luck tanking your own party’s investment on childcare, climate action, and infrastructure while presuming you’ll survive a 3 vote House margin – especially after choosing to exclude members of color from negotiations and calling that a “bipartisan accomplishment.” 👍🏽👍🏽 https://t.co/0VF8Z73vAa
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) July 28, 2021
The study also found that livestock, a significant source of planet-warming gases, now number more than 4 billion, and their total mass is more than that of all humans and wild animals combined. The rate of forest loss in the Brazilian Amazon increased in both 2019 and 2020, reaching a 12-year high of 1.11 million hectares deforested in 2020.
— Climate Power (@ClimatePower) July 28, 2021
Ocean acidification is near an all-time record, and when combined with warmer ocean temperatures, it threatens the coral reefs that more than half a billion people depend on for food, tourism dollars, and storm surge protection.
July 2015: hottest July on record
July 2016: hottest July on record
July 2017: hottest July on record
July 2018: hottest July on record
July 2019: hottest July on record
June 2021: hottest June on record
Yeah. It's time we got our act together and took bold action on climate.
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) July 28, 2021
However, there were a few bright spots in the study, including fossil fuel subsidies reaching a record low and fossil fuel divestment reaching a record high.
In order to change the course of the climate emergency, the authors write that profound alterations need to happen. They say the world needs to develop a global price for carbon that is linked to a socially just fund to finance climate mitigation and adaptation policies in the developing world.
Electric vehicles are the future of transportation. The Biden-Harris administration's Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will build on the work we've done here in Oregon to increase EV access by making the largest investment in EV infrastructure in our country's history. 👏 https://t.co/OemzqZ9Wwh
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) July 28, 2021