Research now demonstrates that the continued functioning of the Earth system as it has supported the well-being of human civilization in recent centuries is at risk. Without urgent action, we could face threats to water, food, biodiversity and other critical resources: these threats risk intensifying economic, ecological and social crises, creating the potential for a humanitarian emergency on a global scale.
Thus begins the first State of the Planet Declaration prepared by the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference just concluded in London. The report outlines the “key messages emerging from the proceedings” and includes the important framework of planetary boundaries, those Earth systems, such as biodiversity, climate change, and ocean acidification. The report continues:
In one lifetime our increasingly interconnected and interdependent economic, social, cultural and political systems have come to place pressures on the environment that may cause fundamental changes in the Earth system and move us beyond safe natural boundaries. But the same interconnectedness provides the potential for solutions: new ideas can form and spread quickly, creating the momentum for the major transformation required for a truly sustainable planet. (emphasis added)
The “distant ideal of sustainable development” is no longer a guiding vision. The vision is much more immediate:
Global sustainability must become a foundation of society. It can and must be part of the bedrock of nation states and the fabric of societies.
Denial of climate change is in retreat. Unrelated to the conference, General Motors this week announced it will no longer fund the Heartland Institute, “a Chicago-based nonprofit well-known for attacking the science behind global warming and climate change.”
Also, meteorologist Shawn Otto writes:
No, you’re not imagining it: we’ve clicked into a new and almost foreign weather pattern. To complicate matters, I’m in a small, frustrated and endangered minority: a Republican deeply concerned about the environmental sacrifices some are asking us to make to keep our economy powered-up, long-term. It’s ironic. The root of the word conservative is “conserve.”
Those denying climate change for economic or political reasons are becoming marginalized. The movement for action is slowly building. "Will it occur soon enough?" is the question of our era.
Download PDF of the Declaration