Winter tree Massmo Relsig/Flickr

An Earth Year

This year’s Earth Day, on April 22, should focus the world’s attention on the urgent need for strong and sustained action to counteract climate change. With global leaders set to convene for three major meetings this year, there is reason to hope that 2015 will bring just such a change for the better.

STOCKHOLM – On April 22, the world will mark the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, established in 1970 to draw attention to environmental challenges. Never have those challenges been greater or more urgent than they are today. The combination of climate change, erosion of biodiversity, and depletion of natural resources is propelling the planet toward a tipping point, beyond which objectives like sustainable development and poverty reduction will be more difficult than ever to achieve.

Since 1970, scientists have learned not only that human activity is the primary driver of environmental change on Earth, but also that it is pushing the planet beyond its natural limits. If we do not make big changes fast, the results could be devastating.

Global leaders seemed to recognize this when they agreed five years ago to limit global warming during this century to 2º Celsius above pre-industrial levels – the threshold beyond which we risk triggering more devastating consequences of climate change. But strong action to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions has not been taken. On the contrary, emissions have increased markedly; as a consequence, last year was the hottest year on record.

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