Seven Maltese researchers are among a group of 11,000 scientists who signed a declaration warning humanity of the dangers of climate change.
Simone Cutajar (Director of Green House), Julian Evans (Lecturer at University of Malta), Michelle Fabricius (Biologist at University of Malta), Nika Levikov (EU Project Officer at University of Malta), Raquel Medialdea-Carrera (Epidemiologist Fellow at Infectious Disease Control Unit, Ministry of Health of Malta), Patrick J. Schembri (Professor of Biology at University of Malta), and André Xuereb (Professor of physics at University of Malta) signed the report because they believe “scientists have a moral obligation to clearly warn humanity of any catastrophic threat and to tell it like it is.”
The Malta Chamber of Scientists, jointly with climate scientist Dr James Ciarlo of the National Institute of Oceanography and Experimental Geophysics, and the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, Trieste, said, “This document presents simple indicators (other than temperature) to describe the global changes observed in the last 40 years.”
“These results are a direct consequence of our unsustainable lifestyle and infrastructure, and the situation requires immediate action. In this respect, the authors describe a number of necessary changes. They are attainable and within reach. The protection of our environment should be the primary focus of all world governments, and climate mitigation must no longer come second to economic growth. The thousands of signatories reflect the scientific consensus on the facts presented in this document, and that there is no doubt that we are facing a climate crisis.”
“Governments, industry, citizens, and researchers need to push for sustainable development that respects concepts like the circular economy,” he said. “We want to see economic growth that improves our lives, not growth at any cost.”
“The climate change crisis is much more than just an environmental issue,” Dr Raquel Medialdea-Carrera, an epidemiologist with Malta’s Ministry for Health, told The Shift. “It has become a huge public health emergency threatening the most basic needs for good health worldwide.”
“Global warming is triggering epidemics by expanding the disease vectors to novel areas,” she said, “with an enormous impact on the population’s health. As a society, it is our moral responsibility to unite our efforts to tackle this climate change crisis together.”
The scientists stressed that “clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency” and that “alarming trends for climate change made it urgently necessary to act.”
“The climate crisis has arrived and is accelerating faster than most scientists expected,” they said. “It is more severe than anticipated, threatening natural ecosystems and the fate of humanity”.
Current climate change estimates are based only on global surface temperature, which the group says is “an inadequate measure to capture the breadth of human activities and the real dangers stemming from a warming planet”.
The report, endorsed by more than 11,000 scientists from 153 countries, including Malta, outlined six crucial steps which humanity must take in order to mitigate the effects of human-induced climate change. They stressed that, unless we make fundamental changes in our lifestyles and stop over-exploiting the eco system for economic growth, we will potentially make large areas of the Earth uninhabitable.
The declaration highlighted six main topics, together with clear data showing the crucial trends which should be used to measure progress. These areas of focus help to make the issue tangible by highlighting key ways in which human activities directly impact emissions that effect our climate, environment and society.
The most disturbing signs of an impending climate disaster, tracked by this report, include an increase in CO2, Methane and nitrous oxide, a rise in the global surface temperature, and a decrease in the Earth’s ice mass.
Although the researchers have indicated that a climate emergency is increasingly likely, they also pointed out that progress has been made with regard to fertility, increased used of renewable energy, decelerated forest loss in the Amazon, and the implementation of carbon pricing.
“The best news is that there is still time for people, policymakers and the business community to make the necessary changes to ensure that future generations can enjoy living on planet Earth, our home”, said Dr Thomas Newsome, one of the co-authors of the report.
The declaration called for bold economic and policy transformations, including increasing tree cover, reducing meat consumption, decreasing fossil fuel consumption, and making family planning services widely available.
“We are encouraged by a recent surge of concern,” they said in their conclusion. “Governmental bodies are making climate emergency declarations. Schoolchildren are striking. Ecocide lawsuits are proceeding in the courts. Grassroots citizen movements are demanding change, and many countries, states and provinces, cities, and businesses are responding.”
Similar warnings have been issued since The First World Climate Conference took place in Geneva in 1979. In 1992, more than 1,700 scientists from 71 countries signed a declaration by the Union of Concerned Scientists highlighting the fact that fundamental changes were needed in order to avoid collision between humanity and the natural world.
A second warning was issued just two years ago, with over 15,000 scientists from 184 countries stating that humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in solving the challenges which were foreseen decades ago and which now needed to be acted upon.