Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists sent a warning – backed by 1,700 signatures – about the need for action to protect the future of Earth and humanity.
Since 1992 and the original call to action, experts believe the situation has become far more grave. Rather than being addressed in an effective manner, many of the issues outlined within the letter – such as limited resources for a burgeoning population – have only exacerbated.
A new letter updates this message for a new generation, asserting how enough still isn’t being done. The letter emphasises pressing problems such as climate change, deforestation, mass species extinction, ocean ‘dead zones’, and lack of fresh water access.
Climate change threatens our existence.
If we don't act soon there'll be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery.
Time is running out.
15,000 concerned scientistshttps://t.co/Wv4Cj1v2t7#cdnpoli #bcpoli #StopKM #EarthDay18 pic.twitter.com/zbNcSbKDIl
— Mike Hudema (@MikeHudema) May 21, 2018
Although there has been progress in some areas – for example, increased renewable energy sources – the bad news sadly far outweighs the good in this regard. The damage our planet has been subjected to over the last 25 years is truly shocking.
Almost 300 million acres of forest have been destroyed, mostly cleared for agricultural purposes. Furthermore, the collective number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish on earth has dropped by a devastating 29 per cent. Cataclysmic losses in biodiversity and human devastation are now anticipated if decisive action is not taken, and soon it could be too late.
This open letter – signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 different countries – offers the following gloomy prediction:
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.
Among those who signed the letter, published as a ‘viewpoint’ article, were the majority of the world’s Nobel Laureates. The authors of the damning letter took their information from data gathered by government agencies as well as from non-profit organisations and individual researchers.
Lead author Professor William Ripple, who is an ecologist at Oregon State University, wrote strikingly of how ‘humanity is now being given a second notice’ in journal BioScience:
We are jeopardising 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.
By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivise 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.
Professor Ripple – who formed the Alliance of World Scientists alongside his colleagues – added:
Those who signed this second warning aren’t just raising a false alarm. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path.
We are hoping that our paper will ignite a widespread public debate about the global environment and climate.
Global Economy improving, but progress on emission reductions is too slow finds @UNDESA report https://t.co/qBykrgGauw More must be done to meet the objectives of the #ParisAgreement and thereby avert major economic downturn linked to #ClimateChange pic.twitter.com/d7LGtXfODH
— UN Climate Change (@UNFCCC) May 21, 2018
Will this new warning finally force human beings to listen to the wisdom of experts before it is too late?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.