"Transformational system changes are required, and they must rise above politics."
The ecological vital signs of the planet are in dire shape, according to an updated report endorsed by almost 14,000 scientists.
Even before it came out, we knew that the paper would present a grim outlook for the future of life on Earth. And now, the very first sentence of the study, published Wednesday in the journal BioScience, points out that the panel of scientists declared a climate change emergency that would cause "untold suffering" back in 2019. And the rest of the paper explains how nearly every single measurement — save for a few exceptions like increased solar energy adoption — is now worse than before.
"The updated planetary vital signs we present reflect the consequences of unrelenting business as usual," the paper reads. "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, and they must rise above politics."
Plan of Attack
The scientists behind the updated report plan to revisit the planet's vitals again in another few years, Live Science notes. If we want to see improvement and perhaps mitigate some of that suffering by then, the scientists recommend taking three crucial steps.
First, they say that we as a planet need to stop using and ban fossil fuels. Then we need to impose a "significant" price on carbon in order to discourage emissions, and finally we need to protect and restore the planet's various forests, wetlands, and other natural carbon sinks in order to get things back on track.
"Implementing these three policies soon will help ensure the long-term sustainability of human civilization and give future generations the opportunity to thrive," the paper reads. "The speed of change is essential, and new climate policies should be part of COVID-19 recovery plans."
READ MORE: Ignoring climate change will yield 'untold suffering,' panel of 14,000 scientists warns [Live Science]
More on the climate change emergency: Scientists Warn That the Earth Is Literally Dying