More than 15000 scientists issue 'warning to humanity'

Olive Hawkins
November 14, 2017

The new warning was published Monday in the worldwide journal BioScience, and marks an update to the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" issued by almost 1,700 leading scientists 25 years ago.

Scientists issued a "second notice" to humanity, warning of environmental doom because mankind is continuing to push the plant's ecosystems to its breaking point and is on the verge of ruining the planet. "Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources", the letter, titled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity", stated.

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries warn the evidence is clear: Current and future human health and wellbeing are at serious risk from climate change, deforestation, loss of access to freshwater, species extinctions, and human population growth.

But things were only going to get worse.

To mark the letter's 25th anniversary, researchers have furnished a stimulating follow up. Once again, they find us sorely wanting. They claim the overwhelming majority of the outlined threats are still in place and "alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse". Global climate change is the top most priority of the novel letter's inventory of planetary menace. At the same time, marine dead zones have increased dramatically by 75 percent and carbon dioxide emissions have risen by 62 percent.

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But it's far from the only problem people face. The human population has also skyrocketed from 3 billion to roughly 7.6 billion.

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. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by almost 30 percent.

Apart from the hole in the ozone layer, which has now been stabilised, every one of the major threats identified in 1992 has worsened. Scientists credit that progress to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons - chemicals once used in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol cans that trigger reactions in the atmosphere to break down ozone.

"It's an overwhelming response we didn't quite expect", says Thomas Newsome, a co-author of the report and research fellow at Deakin University and The University of Sydney. "Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences". They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path.

Ripple and his colleagues have formed a new independent organisation, the Alliance of World Scientists, to be a collective voice on environmental sustainability and human well-being.

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