Scientists Update their 'Warning to Humanity' on its 25th Anniversary

James Marshall
November 14, 2017

On the 25th anniversary of the appeal, over 15,000 scientists have published "a second notice", examining the pleas of the original letter and checking back in to see how humanity has responded over the past two and a half decades.

"Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist", said William Ripple, one of the authors and a professor at the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.

The article says that since 1992, when the first warning was issued, humankind has failed to address ongoing environmental destruction, with the exception of stabilizing the depletion of our ozone layer.

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.

It used data from governments, charities and individual researchers to warn of a "substantial and irreversible harm" to the Earth.

Prof. Ripple said: "Those who signed this second warning aren't just raising a false alarm". In fact, they are doing the opposite totally: acknowledging the obvious signs that "we are heading down an unsustainable path". Other global successes that the scientists have mentioned in the warning letter include a decline in fertility rates, decline in deforestation, and rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector, however; all of these are happening in certain regions and not across the entire world.

Although the Antarctic ozone hole still exists, global efforts to reduce ozone depleting chemicals in our atmosphere are paying off.

The article also suggests measures that could be implemented to reverse some of the negative trends, such as accelerating the adoption of renewables and green energy, promoting a shift towards a plant-based diet, establishing more protected areas on land and at sea, strengthening the enforcement of anti-poaching laws and restraints on the trade of wild animals and expanding family planning and educational programmes for women.

But now it required the public to pressure their political leaders to take more decisive action.

By 2030, up to 170 million hectares of forest - equivalent to the combined size of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal - may be lost, experts from WWF have previously warned.

Back in 1992, a group of scientists signed a paper warning people about the consequences that were coming due to pollution and threats to the Earth.

Taking a numerical look at how some of the threats have grown since 1992, the scientists note that there's been a 26.1 percent loss in fresh water available per capita; a 75.3 percent increase in the number of "dead zones"; a 62.1 percent increase in Carbon dioxide emissions per year; and 35.5 percent rise in the human population.

The warning also states that the ten warmest years on record have come since 1998, while collectively the number of fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals has dropped a dramatic 58 percent since 1970.

If we don't act soon and start caring more about the Earth, we will face catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery - the massive group of scientists adverted.

"We can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend". You probably won't be surprised to learn that we haven't done much of anything to heed the warnings. "We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home", concludes the letter.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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