The researchers said that in order to properly monitor the climate emergency, it isn’t enough to just track Earth’s temperature change. Population growth, tree loss, meat consumption, and annual economic losses due to extreme weather events are all “profoundly troubling signs” of how much the climate crisis has escalated since 1979, they said.
So the 40 years of publicly available data on which the analysis is based includes numbers related to energy use, Earth’s surface temperature, population growth, deforestation, polar ice mass, fertility rates, and carbon emissions.
“We are adding voices of scientists from many fields of study to share our findings of the urgency for action and provide multiple milestones for measuring progress in the coming years,” Ripple said.
Especially disturbing, the authors wrote, are concurrent climate trends in the data: Three abundant greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide) continue to increase along with Earth’s surface temperature.
At the same time, ice is rapidly disappearing from the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, glacier thickness is decreasing, and Arctic sea ice is nearly at its minimum. What’s more, ocean temperatures and acidity are increasing, and extreme weather and associated damage costs have been trending upward, they found.