Defined: The emergency is that our global civilization and many species on the planet are highly dependent upon a stable climate. Rather than merely a long term threat, a planetary emergency articulation places this firmly in the category of immediate and dangerous.
Staying well below 2 degrees C rise in temperature would allow us to avoid a planetary emergency. Current business as usual (BAU) trajectories show that we are track for far more temperature rise due to rising levels of CO2 from burning of fossil fuels.
"Science today tells us that we have a generation at most in which to carry out a radical transformation in our economic relations, and our relations with the earth, if we want to avoid a major tipping point or “point of no return,” after which vast changes in the earth’s climate will likely be beyond our ability to prevent and will be irreversible. At that point it will be impossible to stop the ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland from continuing to melt, and thus the sea level from rising by as much as “tens of meters.” Nor will we be able to prevent the Arctic sea ice from vanishing completely in the summer months, or carbon dioxide and methane from being massively released by the decay of organic matter currently trapped beneath the permafrost—both of which would represent positive feedbacks dangerously accelerating climate change. Extreme weather events will become more and more frequent and destructive. (https://monthlyreview.org/2012/12/01/the-planetary-emergency/)
Some relevant quotes
""We face what I think should be described as a full-scale planetary emergency." - See more at: https://www.space.com/3045-al-gore-earth-full-scale-planetary-emergency.html
Facing the Planetary Emergency Head On
We say: (consider this the "op ed" ahead indicator) Some advocates argue that we should have a very forceful approach to address the planetary emergency. To get through this transition period with the least amount of disruption to our economies and to avoid the loss of species and the death of millions of humans, they argue, we must address this as an emergency. This wiki, is, in some sense dedicated to that sense of urgency without going so far as to say that we are doomed. Rather we argue that the right level of urgency can lead to the kinds of changes that can reduce the risk and bring this into the realm of manageable crisis.
This is not an environmental issue with a relatively simple set of solutions, or regulations that must be passed, but rather a very fundamental change to the foundations of energy production and use which echoes across the entire economy and if not solved leads to potentially runaway climate change.
Design School for Planetary Emergency
Some have suggested that we need some generalized way of conceptualizing this differently. Some thought leaders in this space would include a cultural-systems view.
"Design schools all over the world are failing their students by ignoring the most important challenges they will face as they live through a time of unprecedented disruption and ecological collapse. Let me state plainly — we need a Design School for Planetary Collapse." (https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/a-design-school-for-planetary-collapse-9e733fdcf876)
(EDITOR: Please correct these formats.)
- The Planetary Emergency, by John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, https://monthlyreview.org/2012/12/01/the-planetary-emergency/
- What Planetary Emergency?: Dispatch from day two of the International Conference on Climate Change in New York, Ronald Bailey | March 10, 2009, http://reason.com/archives/2009/03/10/what-planetary-emergency
- A Design School for Planetary Collapse, Medium, by Joe Brewer, (https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/a-design-school-for-planetary-collapse-9e733fdcf876)