Scientists captured global attention with dire climate warnings in November when the mainstream media amplified their message contained in an article published in the academic journal BioScience. The article itself is clear and direct, beginning with:
“Scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to “tell it like it is.” On the basis of this obligation and the graphical indicators presented below, we declare, with more than 11,000 scientist signatories from around the world, clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”
On the issue of The Economy, the article states: “Excessive extraction of materials and overexploitation of ecosystems, driven by economic growth, must be quickly curtailed to maintain long-term sustainability of the biosphere. We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly. Our goals need to shift from GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence toward sustaining ecosystems and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.”
The Alliance of World Scientists invites scientists from around the world to sign on to the message. Summaries about the warnings appeared in The Guardian here and in Common Dreams “Warning of ‘Untold Human Suffering,’ Over 11,000 Scientists From Around the World Declare Climate Emergency” . A Canadian viewpoint appears in an article in the Edmonton edition of the Toronto Star ,“5 Alberta scientists tell us why they joined 11,000 scientific colleagues in declaring a climate emergency” .
Like the scientists, other professionals recently spoke up about their “moral obligation” to do what they can to fight the climate emergency. “Leading Australian engineers turn their backs on new fossil fuel projects” in The Guardian reports: “About 1,000 Australian engineers and 90 organisations – including large firms and respected industry figures who have worked with fossil fuel companies – have signed a declaration to “evaluate all new projects against the environmental necessity to mitigate climate change”. The article focuses on a new group, Australian Engineers Declare , which issued an Open Letter in September 2019, acknowledging that their professional organization, Engineers Australia, has a strong policy regarding climate change, but calling for faster action to address climate breakdown and biodiversity loss. Engineers Declare states that engineers are connected to 65% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, and that “engineering teams have a responsibility to actively support the transition of our economy towards a low carbon future. This begins with honestly and loudly declaring a climate and biodiversity emergency…we commit to strengthening our work practices to create systems, infrastructure, technology and products that have a positive impact on the world around us.” The declaration continues to list specific actions, including: “Learn from and collaborate with First Nations to adopt work practices that are respectful, culturally sensitive and regenerative.”
On November 1, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet, one of the world’s most prestigious medical journals which has published a Countdown Report on Climate Change and Health since 2016. As reported in “Protesting climate change is a doctor’s duty” , the most recent remarks were made in a video which calls for health professionals to engage in nonviolent social protest to address climate change. The video cites the British professional standard, Duties of a Doctor, and lauds Doctors for Extinction Rebellion , four of whom have been arrested in London. The website of Doctors for Extinction Rebellion chronicles recent activities including that on October 17th 2019, the Royal College of Physicians committed to Divest from Fossil Fuels.