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World scientists’ warnings into action, local to global

Barnard, P; Moomaw, WR; Fioramonti, L; Laurance, WF; Mahmoud, MI; O’Sullivan, J; Rapley, CG; ... Ziervogel, G; + view all (2021) World scientists’ warnings into action, local to global. Science Progress , 104 (4) pp. 1-32. 10.1177/00368504211056290. Green open access

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‘We have kicked the can down the road once again – but we are running out of road.’ – Rachel Kyte, Dean of Fletcher School at Tufts University. We, in our capacities as scientists, economists, governance and policy specialists, are shifting from warnings to guidance for action before there is no more ‘road.’ The science is clear and irrefutable; humanity is in advanced ecological overshoot. Our overexploitation of resources exceeds ecosystems’ capacity to provide them or to absorb our waste. Society has failed to meet clearly stated goals of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Civilization faces an epochal crossroads, but with potentially much better, wiser outcomes if we act now. What are the concrete and transformative actions by which we can turn away from the abyss? In this paper we forcefully recommend priority actions and resource allocation to avert the worst of the climate and nature emergencies, two of the most pressing symptoms of overshoot, and lead society into a future of greater wellbeing and wisdom. Humanity has begun the social, economic, political and technological initiatives needed for this transformation. Now, massive upscaling and acceleration of these actions and collaborations are essential before irreversible tipping points are crossed in the coming decade. We still can overcome significant societal, political and economic barriers of our own making. Previously, we identified six core areas for urgent global action – energy, pollutants, nature, food systems, population stabilization and economic goals. Here we identify an indicative, systemic and time-limited framework for priority actions for policy, planning and management at multiple scales from household to global. We broadly follow the ‘Reduce-Remove-Repair’ approach to rapid action. To guide decision makers, planners, managers, and budgeters, we cite some of the many experiments, mechanisms and resources in order to facilitate rapid global adoption of effective solutions. Our biggest challenges are not technical, but social, economic, political and behavioral. To have hope of success, we must accelerate collaborative actions across scales, in different cultures and governance systems, while maintaining adequate social, economic and political stability. Effective and timely actions are still achievable on many, though not all fronts. Such change will mean the difference for billions of children and adults, hundreds of thousands of species, health of many ecosystems, and will determine our common future.

Type: Article
Title: World scientists’ warnings into action, local to global
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1177/00368504211056290
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1177/00368504211056290
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage).
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Earth Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10138466
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