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Scientists reveal new plan to save the world

“Humanity can embark on the journey of saving the world” if it opts for ‘radical incrementalism’, a top team of international scientists has said today. Led by Oregon State University (OSU) researchers, the team sets out a ‘restorative pathway’ approach built using a 500-year dataset that it argues, can allow humanity to avert the worst ecological and social catastrophes of climate change.

Christopher Wolf, OSU postdoctoral researcher, says their scenario “focuses on reducing the consumption of primary resources to a level that keeps environmental pressures within planetary boundaries”, with large scale societal change rather than the reliance on solutions like carbon capture seen as key to unlocking a plan that also calls for more nature based innovations.

Wolf and the team want to see their scenario join the shared socioeconomic pathways (SSP) modelling used by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

“We understand that our proposed scenario may be a major challenge to implement given current trends in emissions, a lack of political will and widespread social denial, but its merits can’t even be honestly debated if it’s not included in the suite of options,” said William Ripple, professor of ecology in the OSU College of Forestry. “We’re arguing for radical incrementalism: achieving massive change through small, short-term steps. And we’re offering a much-needed contrast to many other climate scenarios, which may be more aligned with the status quo, which isn’t working.”

Ripple insists that “by prioritizing large-scale societal change” the new pathway could “limit warming much more effectively than pathways that support rising resource consumption by wealthy nations”.

“Our work presents a case for how humanity can embark on the journey of saving the world from these environmental and social crises,” adds Ripple. “The restorative pathway would represent a more equitable and resilient world with a focus on nature preservation as a natural climate solution; societal well-being and quality of life; equality and high levels of education for girls and women; higher standards of living; and a rapid transition toward renewable energy.”

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Susan is the co-founder of Innovators Magazine and a consultant for OnePoint5Media. Susan is also a member of the UNFCCC-led Resilience Frontiers Nexus group and the Chair of the APOPO Foundation UK board.

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