„The unfashionable truth is that the only way to take direct responsibility for [your] emissions is to enable an equivalent amount to be absorbed, or avoid being emitted, elsewhere. In short, to offset.” Martin Wright, (Guardian Sustainable Business)

Carbon neutrality is an inescapable element of ecological sustainability. (László A. Rampasek)

Be Carbon Neutral!

William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Mauro Galetti, Mohammed Alamgir, Eileen Crist, Mahmoud I. Mahmoud, William F. Laurance, 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.

The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the ­biosphere can tolerate ­without ­substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1, file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

Figure 1.

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.

Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita ­consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.

The rapid global decline in ozone-depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger (www.worldbank.org). Other notable progress (which does not yet show up in the global data sets in figure 1) include the rapid decline in fertility rates in many regions attributable to investments in girls’ and women’s education (www.un.org/esa/population), the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector. We have learned much since 1992, but the advancement of urgently needed changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities is still far from sufficient.

Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence-based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy instruments, markets, and other drivers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the following (not in order of importance or urgency): (a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats; (b) maintaining nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats; (c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes; (d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics; (e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species; (f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; (g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods; (h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking; (i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature; (j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change; (k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels; (l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment; and (m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.



Our climate is changing. Scientific evidence shows that the global average temperature is rising, and rainfall patterns are shifting. It also shows that glaciers, Arctic sea-ice and the Greenland ice sheet are melting. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report shows that the warming since the mid-20th century is predominantly due to an increase in greenhouse-gas concentrations as a result of emissions from human activities. Combustion of fossil fuels and changes in land use are largely responsible for this increase.

 The Long Trip Image © Mariusz Warsinski, Environment & Me/EEA - OurOffset
It is clear that we need to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions substantially in order to avoid the most adverse impacts of climate change. It is also clear that we need to adapt to our changing climate. Even with substantial reductions in our greenhouse-gas emissions, our climate is expected to change to some degree and the impacts of this will be felt across the world, including in Europe. Floods and droughts are expected to become more frequent and intense. Warmer temperatures, changes in precipitation levels and patterns, or extreme weather events are already impacting our health, natural environment, and economy.

Climate change affects us

We might not be aware of it but climate change affects us all: farmers, fishermen, asthma patients, the elderly, infants, urban residents, skiers, beachgoers… Extreme weather events, such as floods and storm surges, can devastate small communities — and even regions and countries. Heatwaves can exacerbate air pollution, aggravating cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, and in some cases resulting in loss of life.

Warmer oceans risk unbalancing the entire food chain, and hence marine life, adding extra pressures to already overexploited fish stocks. Higher temperatures can also change the carbon storage capacity of the soil — the second largest carbon sink after the oceans. Droughts and warmer temperatures can impact agricultural production, driving up the competition between economic sectors for precious resources like water and land.

These impacts result in real losses. Recent research estimates that without adaptation actions heat-related deaths could reach about 200 000 per year in Europe by 2100. The cost of river flood damages could be more than EUR 10 billion a year. Other climate-change impacts include the damage from forest fires, reduced crop yields, or lost workdays due to respiratory diseases.

Faced with such current and future impacts, Europeans have no choice but to adapt to climate change. A European Union-level adaptation strategy is already in place to help countries plan their adaptation activities, and more than 20 European countries have adopted national adaptation strategies.

Some ongoing adaptation projects involve large projects to build new infrastructure (e.g. dykes and flood drains), whereas others propose restoring ecosystems to allow nature to tackle climate change impacts such as excess water or heat. Different initiatives and funding opportunities exist to help countries, cities, and regions prepare for climate change impacts and reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions.

Reducing emissions

The severity of climate change will depend on how much and how quickly we can cut greenhouse-gas emissions released into the atmosphere. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times. It is a global problem and concerns us all. The scientific community strongly recommends limiting the rise in global average temperatures and reducing greenhouse-gas emissions to avoid adverse impacts of climate change. Within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the international community has agreed to limit the global average temperature increase to 2°C above pre-industrial times.

If the global average temperature increases above 2°C, climate change will have much more severe impacts on our health, natural environment, and economy. An average 2°C increase means that temperatures will actually rise more than 2°C in certain parts of the world, especially in the Arctic, where greater impacts will threaten unique natural systems.

The European Union has set ambitious long-term goals on climate-change mitigation. In 2013, the EU had already reduced its domestic greenhouse-gas emissions by 19% compared to 1990 levels. The target of a 20% reduction by 2020 is within reach.

Achieving a reduction of at least 40% in domestic emissions (i.e. emitted in the EU) by 2030 and an 80-95% reduction by 2050 will partly depend on the EU’s ability to channel sufficient amounts of public and private funds towards sustainable and innovative technologies. Effective carbon prices and regulations are instrumental in steering investments towards climate-friendly innovations, in renewable energy and energy efficiency in particular. In some cases, funding decisions might also entail divesting away from some sectors and restructuring others.

Emission reductions by EU Member States would address the problem only partly, because the EU currently emits only around 10% of global greenhouse-gas emissions. It is clear that achieving the 2°C target requires a global effort with substantial cuts to global greenhouse-gas emissions. The scientific community estimates that to achieve the 2°C target only a limited amount of carbon can be released into the atmosphere before the end of the century. The world has already released the large majority of this ‘carbon budget’. At current rates, the entire carbon budget will be exhausted well before 2100.

To increase our chances of limiting the average temperature increase to 2°C, scientific studies show that global emissions have to peak in 2020, and then start declining. In this context, the upcoming climate talks (COP21) in Paris need to become a turning point for a global agreement on cutting greenhouse-gas emissions and providing support to developing countries.

A low-carbon future by 2050 is possible

At the heart of the problem lie unsustainable consumption and production patterns. Building on recent trends observed in Europe’s environment and on global megatrends, our recent report ‘The European environment — state and outlook 2015’ calls for a transition to a green economy. TheHans Bruyninckx - OurOffset green economy is a sustainable way of life that allows us to live well, and within the limits of our planet. This transition involves structural changes to key systems, such as energy and transport, which require long-term investments in our infrastructure.

Europeans are already investing in these key systems. The challenge is to make sure that all current and future investments put us one step closer to greening our economy, and do not lock us into an unsustainable path of development. Making the right investments today will not only minimise the overall costs of climate change, but it can strengthen Europe’s expertise in the thriving eco-industries — the economy of the future. At the end of the day, we all have a stake in defining what life with climate change will look like.

The challenge we are facing might seem daunting. But no matter how big the challenge may be, the 2°C target is still within our reach. We now need to be courageous and ambitious enough to grasp it.

Hans Bruyninckx
EEA Executive Director

Living in a changing climate - OurOffset

Al Gore

I was excited to be a part of the “Dream” theme, and then I found out I’m leading off the “Nightmare?” section of it. /Al Gore/

Leonardo DiCaprio


… After 21 years of debate and conferences it is time to declare: no more talk, no more excuses, no more 10-year studies, no more allowing the fossel fuel companies to manipulate and dictate the science and policies that affect our future.
This is the body that can do what is needed. All of you sitting in this very hall. The world is now watching. You’ll either be lotted by future generations or vilified by them. Lincoln’s words still resonate to all of us here today, „We will be remembered in spite of ourselves. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honour or dishounour to the last generation. We shall nobely save or meanly lose the last best hope of Earth.”
That is our charge now. You are the last best hope of Earth. We ask you to protect it. Or we and all living things we cherish are history.
(Leonardo DiCaprio’s speech (extract) as the final speaker at the Signature Ceremony for the Paris Climate Change Agreement, UN)

Dambisa Moyo

We cannot continue to try and solve the world economic growth challenges by being dogmatic and being unnecessarily ideological. In order to create sustainable, long-term economic growth and solve the challenges and social ills that continue to plague the world today, we’re going to have to be more broad-minded about what might work.

Audrey Choi

Now, sustainable investing, the good news is it doesn’t require a magic spell and it doesn’t require some investment secret, and it’s not just for the elite.

Lester Brown


Lester Brown – Mobilizing to Save Civilization
Narrated by Matt Damon, Hungarian subtitles!

This film is based on summation of stunning and thought-provoking facts.
Contact us and learn why many people are thinking differently about the future. After watching the film you will get a picture of the world which helps you make your future decisions in another way.

MIDWAY – Plastic Beach

3200 km from any coast and civilization.

New Warning – A Possible Unprecedented Devastation

Due to the growing shortage in forest and fish supplies, intensified sweet water consumption and the lack of regulations to prevent climate change, the current course of mankind is now deemed unsustainable – warn the United Nations. According to another relevant study published in the field, the rise of the Western world has run parallel to the decline in the biological variety of poor countries exporting raw materials.

Life on Earth is heading towards irreversible changes – claims the fifth Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) of the United Nations. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) urges for immediate steps to be taken and prompts decision makers to set forth strict goals and purposes for the Rio+20 summit due on 20-22 June. The occasion is held twenty years after the Earth Summit in Rio (The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development) and forty years after the first United Nations conference (in Stockholm) with our environment as subject matter.

Also an Economic Interest

Although favourable changes have been achieved through specific agreements – the report stipulates – negotiations held prior to the summit mostly focused on problem areas. States were unable to agree on basic issues such as a more strictly controlled attitude to salt water fishing or a constraint on companies to measure their ecological footprints. Surely, there is a need of an urgent and decisive change to a green economy with low carbon intensity, which is capable of using resources effectively and creating new workplaces – BBC quotes the leader of UNEP, Achim Steiner. Insofar as the current trend continues without change, governments will have to face unprecedented devastations and environmental declines – Steiner sums up. All this, by and by, is also an economic interest since, according to UNEP, air pollution and climate changes place extra burden on global economy.

The overall picture then is more than just grim. Despite the international agreement to tackle environmental decline and poverty, the outlook is far from being optimistic. The report states, among others, that air pollution can cause an annual six million premature deaths worldwide, and that the current trend in the emission of gases causing glasshouse effect could result in a 3 degrees Celsius increase of the general temperature on Earth.

In their global assessment published every five years, GEO rates improvements in ninety crucial environmental areas. According to their report, progress is detectable only in four areas: to use unleaded petroleum, to stop the destruction of the ozone layer, to improve access to clean water, and to research the pollution of the seas. Further forty areas also show some improvements, such as the slowing down of deforestation and the establishment of protected natural habitats. Yet little or no progress is visible in twenty-four crucial points; the fight against climate change is one of them. The situation has apparently got worse in eight areas, for example concerning the status of coral reefs. Due to insufficient data available, no clear conclusion could be drawn in the rest of the appointed areas.

Increasing Prosperity versus a Declining Nature

Also recently, Nature magazine published a study with a similar topic according to which the biosphere is experiencing rapid and most probably irreversible changes. A team of primarily Australian scientists calculated that more than 40 per cent of the Earth’s continental areas today are used to supply for human needs, and since our population will expand with an anticipated two billion inhabitants this rate could exceed 50 per cent. Based on the ever-growing need for power source intensive food supplies such as beef, this prognosis could happen by sometime around 2025. And if we want to avoid the worst to come, we should remain below the 50 per cent limit – said leading researcher Anthony Barnofsky (from Berkeley).
According to the study, it is global commerce satisfying the demands of wealthy countries that can be primarily held responsible for the reasons animal species are threatened. This trend could be stopped with a better management of supply chains or, for instance, with the labelling of products. Occasionally other methods can also have favourable results, like the 1970s campaign to protect dolphins, which managed to persuade Western consumers to boycott tuna fishermen ignoring such concerns. Experts say that governments should introduce commercial sanctions in favour of the cause and that they should regulate more strictly all commercial activities threatening biodiversity. There are of course favourable undertakings, such as the decision introduced by Nestlé through which the giant food industry company binds its palm oil suppliers to protect rain forests.

Devastating Export

Investigating the relations between endangered species and the global trade in goods, the study arrived at the conclusion that one of the main factors responsible for the destruction of biodiversity is the trade in goods from poorer, mostly known as developing countries to wealthy nations. Previous studies had already clarified that the demand for products like Brazilian beef, Indonesian palm oil, Mexican coffee or Vietnamese fish had been damaging effect to the environment. The study published in the columns of Nature, however, is the first to try and demonstrate the global effects of commerce on biological diversity. The study also investigates the effects of Malayan gums export, fishery in the Philippines and Thailand, Columbian banana and tobacco production, and the mining industry in Ghana.
According to the study, the rise of the United States, Japan and Western Europe has run parallel to the decline in the biological diversity of poor countries exporting raw materials. Environmentally destructive import activities are pursued by the USA, Japan, Germany, France and Great-Britain, while wildlife suffered the most destruction in Indonesia, Madagascar, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Source: napi.hu (10th June 2012)