Scientists launch plan to save civilization from climate catastrophe

Stopping deforestation now is crucial to allowing global warming to be contained and reversed in the future, say scientists around the world in a letter of actions to prevent irreversible damage to the planet.

The document was published on Thursday (11), while the COP negotiations were still underway26, UN Climate Conference that ended this Saturday (13) with an agreement considered below the challenge imposed by global warming.

Perhaps already anticipating the outcome of the meeting in Glasgow (Scotland), the group, which brings together academics, economists and experts in governance and public policy, presented what it called a “Marshall plan to save civilization”—a comparison with the plan put forward by the United States to rebuild Europe destroyed by World War II.

The letter details priorities and steps that should be taken by 2026, 2030 and 2050. According to the group, the scientists decided to replace the warnings previously made with a concrete proposal for action “before there is no more road to travel”.

Scientists published their first warning on “climate emergency” in 1992, time of the conference held in Rio, and a second version of the warning, released in 2016, has already surpassed 15 thousand signatures of scientists.

“Despite this, there were few successful actions and the weather indicators worsened, even with the Covid pandemic, which reduced mobility.”

According to scientists, climate change is the best known, but not the only evidence that humans have put the planet at risk.

They list some already irreversible damage, such as the rise in sea level and the loss of ice in the Arctic, which will take at least a millennium —or 26 generations—to be restored.

Other uncontrollable disasters are still unknown, because complex natural systems under stress, such as the climate, do not change in a gradual or predictable way, scientists say.

Moreover , even with all the promises made by the countries at the COP23, the world is moving towards a warming of more than 2.4º C compared to the pre- industry, according to a recently released report by the CAT, the most important climate monitoring coalition in the world.

“Civilization faces a historic crossroads, but with potentially much better results if we act now,” write the signatories of the new charter, who claim that cooperation between countries with different cultures and systems is essential: “Our biggest challenges are not technical, but social, economic, political and behavioral”.

Gas levels current carbon dioxide, 48% higher than those of the pre-industrial period, require that polluting gas emissions will be cut at least in half by the end of this decade, according to the scientists.

Action is needed in six areas, they say: energy, pollutants, nature, food systems, population stabilization and economic targets.

For the warming to be reversed after this first moment of containment, “we must immediately stop the destruction and negotiation of systems that capture carbon, such as forests, pastures and wetlands”, they say.

The role of Brazil

Deforestation is the main responsible for greenhouse gas emissions in Brazil: more than half (55%) comes from logging and burning, a number that has been growing in the last two years.

Data released by the Deter system, of Inpe, recorded a record of Amazon devastation for one month of October since the historical series began to be made, in 2016.

O scientists’ plan in this area foresees to reduce up to and interrupt even 2030 the destruction of natural ecosystems, including those around cities, through urban densification policies, rezoning and reuse of areas — by planting trees in parking lots or extensive lawns, for example.

It also recommends removing pollutants such as pesticides, restoring degraded areas (not only plants, but large animals, insects, fungi, bacteria and other components of the original ecosystem ) and stop burning wood to produce energy, which, according to the group, is more harmful than burning coal, in addition to reducing the city’s absorption capacity.

Another point of The action that directly affects Brazil is that which refers to the production of food — agriculture and livestock are responsible for 15% of the country’s emissions, not counting other parts of the food chain, such as transport and processing.

According to the scientists, the impacts of food production “are already very beyond levels that meet planetary health goals.” The sector accounts for more than a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, for about 48% of freshwater use, most of the deforestation and the runoff nutrients into waterways, polluting them.

The letter states that “the reduction in demand for meat and dairy products and the shift to plant-based dietary patterns provide the greatest benefits across the board. the set of environmental impacts of the food system”, by reducing the need for land, water, pesticides, fertilizers and cutting the emission of polluting gases.

Other necessary policies are to reduce food waste , increase the efficiency of water use, and adopt agricultural practices that are less degrading to the environment.

“It is still conceivable that humanity could avoid major famines in this century. But the convergence of resource and bottlenecks environmental crises require urgent action across the global food system on many fronts simultaneously.” read the document.

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