The Museum has declared a planetary emergency, in recognition of humanity's failure to combat our destructive impact on the planet's survival systems.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, pollution and deforestation are just some of the crises caused by unsustainable human activity. These add up to an emergency on a planetary scale.
Prof Andy Purvis, a Research Leader at the Museum on the effects of the biodiversity crisis, says, 'All the warning lights are flashing: hottest years on record, coral bleaching, rising sea levels, loss of tropical forests, wild populations declining, and a million species threatened with extinction. We would be failing in our duty to society if we didn't pass these warnings on.'
Earth's natural systems are groaning under the weight of climate change and biodiversity loss.
The world is already 1.1°C above pre-industrial temperatures. This rise is driven by greenhouse gas emissions, particularly carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmosphere. We produce greenhouse gasses when we burn oil, coal and gas, and through meat and dairy production.
It is generally agreed that the world needs to limit warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial temperatures to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.
We are not on track to reach that target. There is still a 2% annual growth in emissions, and they are not expected to peak until after 2030, even if we do everything we can to clean up our act right now. To reverse the damage, action needs to be taken immediately to get global emissions down to zero.
Researchers including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have been warning us for years that humanity is heading towards a tipping point. Soon, we will have affected nature so much that it will be too late to control the consequences, no matter what we do, and climate change will continue to spiral.