References to “climate emergency” spiking in the academic literature

On 30 October 2023, Washington Post reported that references to “climate emergency” and “climate crisis” are spiking in the academic literature. As recently as 2015, only 32 papers in the Web of Science research database included the term “climate emergency.” In 2022, 862 papers contained the phrase.

When the Oregon State University ecologist Bill Ripple’s academic paper “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” was published in the journal Bioscience in 2019, it had 11,000 signatures from scientists around the world. It now has more than 15,000. Last week, he published a new paper on the state of the climate system, “Entering Uncharted Territory.”

Tim Lenton, one of the co-authors on Ripple’s most recent paper and a professor of earth system science at the University of Exeter, said he isn’t afraid to use terms like ‘climate emergency’: “If you say ‘urgent’ to a politician … that isn’t really enough,” he told the newspaper.

The coalition of 12 researchers, spanning North America, Europe and Asia, stated in unusually stark language: “As scientists, we are increasingly being asked to tell the public the truth about the crises we face in simple and direct terms. The truth is that we are shocked by the ferocity of the extreme weather events in 2023. (…) We are afraid of the uncharted territory that we have now entered.”

Jacquelyn Gill, a professor of climate science and paleoecology at the University of Maine, told Washington Post that when it comes to terms like climate emergency, “it’s a little bit of strategy and a lot of honesty.”

→ Washington Post – 30 October 2023
Why many scientists are now saying climate change is an all-out ‘emergency’
“Escalating rhetoric comes as new study shows there’s just six years left to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius at current CO2 emissions rate.”

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