In a stern warning, two climate experts on Wednesday cited scientific studies to assert that human activity is pushing Earth to the brink of a dangerous climate tipping point and immediate action is needed to safeguard humanity's future and protect our planet.
In a special presentation at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 here, they presented a groundbreaking research to set out a framework of 'Earth System Boundaries' that can secure a safe and just planet for all.
The presentation was made by Johan Rockstrom, Director, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), and Joyeeta Gupta, Professor of Environment and Development in the Global South at the University of Amsterdam and, IHE Delft Institute for Water Education.
They said we are taking colossal risks with the future of civilization and are destabilising the interconnected systems -- our global commons -- that ensure a stable and resilient planet, a prerequisite for human prosperity and equity for all.
"The Arctic is warming four times faster than the global average. Sea ice is shrinking and we're likely to see ice-free Arctic summers before 2050. This will be irreversible," the duo said.
Greenland is losing trillions of tons of ice every decade. This ice loss is accelerating, and Greenland contains enough water to raise sea levels by 7 metres.
"The cold freshwater released by Greenland is slowing the major circulation in the Atlantic Ocean which controls the thermostat of Europe. This is irreversible," as per their graphic presentation.
The Atlantic Ocean current affects rainfall over the Amazon rainforest. The Amazon -- one of the most important stores of carbon on Earth -- is drying out and losing its ability to store carbon, they pointed out.
Without immediate action, our future will neither be safe nor just. In times of crisis, humanitarian corridors open up to allow safe passage out of danger zones, the two experts said in their joint presentation.
These corridors come and go, and not everyone can use them, so this century, we need a permanent humanitarian corridor for everyone, one that takes us away from the danger zone and into a safe and just space, they argued.
Rockstrom and Gupta said that by centering justice at its heart, this new science represents a quantum leap in our ability to understand Earth's capacity to sustain life, and the role we humans play as guardians of our only home and each other.
Meeting the needs of current and future generations, while staying within the safe and just boundaries, is non-negotiable and also possible, they said.
Noting that it will not be easy, they said we will have to transform our societies and the global economy.
"This means halting luxury carbon consumption and luxury biosphere consumption. It means creating new business models that focus on circularity, regeneration and justice," they said.
A world economy that operates within safe and just Earth System Boundaries is the most important business opportunity of our lifetime. And, it is possible to operationalise these boundaries across all sectors of the economy, they said.
"We are 8 billion people alive today. Will we and our children be able to live within the safe and just corridor? "The answer is up to us. This breakthrough science, which moves beyond climate, can be operationalised by everyone. If we do nothing, or the bare minimum at this pivotal moment, we and our children - even if they are wealthy - will live in a danger zone," they said.
The two experts urged businesses and governments to commit now to enormous and just transformations in order to operate within the safe and just boundaries, so that our children have a future worth living for.