News24

Scientists warn of 'global emergency'

2012-03-30 07:27

London - Leading scientists have called on the upcoming Rio Summit to grapple with environmental ills that they said pointed to "a humanitarian emergency on a global scale".

In a "State of the Planet" declaration issued after a four-day conference, the scientists said Earth was now facing unprecedented challenges, from water stress, pollution and species loss to spiralling demands for food.

They called on the June 20 - 22 follow-up to the 1992 Earth Summit to overhaul governance of the environment and sweep away a fixation with GDP as the sole barometer of wellbeing.

"The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference.

"These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale."

Scientific board

The conference gathered nearly 3 000 environment scientists, economists, business executives and policymakers in the run-up to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio.

In a recorded message, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he welcomed the declaration, saying "its timing... could not be better".

"Climate change, the financial crisis and food, water and energy security threaten human wellbeing and civilisation as we know it," he said.

Ban added that he was considering appointing a scientific board or a chief scientific advisor to advise him and other UN organs.

The conference declaration said humanity's impact on Earth was now so great that a new era - "the Anthropocene", a term derived from the Greek word for human - had emerged.

Globalisation has shown that economies and societies are now "highly interconnected and interdependent", it said.

These changes have brought stability and innovation but created a system vulnerable to sudden stress, as the global financial meltdown and surge in food prices had shown.

Tackling the problems of global environment change will mean major reforms, it said.

One is the question of governance.

"Existing international arrangements are not dealing quickly enough with current global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss," said the statement.

It called for a "polycentric approach" for planetary stewardship, meaning a diverse partnership between local, national and regional governments that also includes business and grassroots groups.

But another need was to scrap obsessions with gross domestic product (GDP) as the only benchmark of progress. Governments should also include environment, health and social factors.

"A crucial transformation is to move away from income as the key constituent of wellbeing and to develop new indicators that measure actual improvements in wellbeing at all scales," the declaration said.

Comments
  • Jan - 2012-03-30 08:07

    How much more money do they want this time to prove their hypothesis?

      Richard - 2012-03-30 08:32

      I'm assuming you meant, 'to try and prove their hypothesis'?

      ChronicDJ - 2012-03-30 08:56

      Like why spend more money on researching saving our planet from self-destruction when we could be spending it on FIFA world cups and more Bailouts!

  • Stephen - 2012-03-30 08:32

    Why worry? Jesus will be back soon to rapture us all up to heaven.

      tskriel - 2012-03-30 08:43

      HAHAHAHA christians have been saying that for 2000 years...

  • ClaudsDeLuca - 2012-03-30 08:37

    "The continuing function of the Earth system as it has supported the wellbeing of human civilisation in recent centuries is at risk," said the statement issued at the "Planet Under Pressure" conference. "These threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale." "Existing international arrangements are not dealing quickly enough with current global challenges such as climate change and biodiversity loss," said the statement. But another need was to scrap obsessions with gross domestic product (GDP) as the only benchmark of progress. ie. We take more than we replace/repair, and human's main focus is money, as opposed to the environment. Ponder on this and ask how you could make a difference? Do we lack a sense of responsibility because of the sheer number of human's around us? ie. "What will my difference make with so many people f**king up?" ...What if everyone thinks that way? Let's raise awareness and start doing something, small things to conserve and improve our methods of reason in every day life, once a day, or once a week... is it not more than you're doing now? Take a bus, save electricity, recycle, share the message.. whatever, do something. Happy Friday my peoples.

  • E=MC2 - 2012-03-30 08:38

    here we go... another "the world is going to end" sensationalistic story...

  • betsy.compaan - 2012-03-30 10:16

    We are putting the conditions in place that will garuntee our own distruction yet it doesn't scare us, judging by the comments I think people can't accept that this isn't a "maybe we will destroy our environment" situation anymore. It has become serious yet people just don't give a damn, they are so blinded that they aren't even willing to do something while there is still time left. Our children will suffer and it will be thanks to us

      Grant - 2012-03-30 12:56

      The scientist community is the biggest hindrance, I agree there are problems, but when the scare 30 years ago was that we were on the brink of the next ice age, then the ozone layer (have not heard this one now in years), then global warming, now global emergency, we are supposedly over populated (yet if we put the whole worlds population into USA it would be less densely populated than rural Bangladesh is today. What is the truth - who do we believe, especially when everyone is trying to make money or fame out of the game.

  • ludlowdj - 2012-03-30 13:34

    And the scientific community wonders why we have no faith in them. Until populations are controlled and reduced internationally and pollution is managed in the proper manner we will make no headway, current evidence suggests that at our current population growth and pollution generating capacity the earth will not be able to support life in as little as a hundred years. Until those in power stop using the current situation to justify extorting money from the masses and starts actually tackling the problems this will not change and the masses will continue to ignore the propaganda, double speak and outright lies that characterize the scientific community in general.

      rambo919 - 2012-03-30 14:02

      So you want the reduction in population? You first buddy. "The conference gathered nearly 3 000 environment scientists, economists, business executives and policymakers" .....how does that not scream politically motivated?

      marius.dumas - 2012-04-02 14:30

      I agree that over population is a massive problem. I do not suggest killing people to reduce populations. But more effort should be put into place to reduce reproduction. I don't suggest forced sterilisation but rather something like holding parents more liable for taking responsibility for their children. This should be done to the point where people should realise that if they cannot afford children they will be better off without it. As long as those who have nothing to loose continue to make children as if it goes out of fashion, so would we experience a reverse evolution where the weak and poor will survive by numbers. Population reduction in humane ways will ensure that pollution, food and all other natural resources are put under much less stress, so that there is enough for every one. This will instantly improve economy as well. But a population of 7 billion people mostly poor is not sustainable for long. All global manmade problems can be linked to over population. There are a great deal of scientific bias and even fraud in the high level where science, business and politics meet. But I think it is a pretty honest observation that over population is heading to a crisis we will have great difficulty to control unless we start making plans now.

  • pages:
  • 1