A prophetic "warning to humanity" giving notice of perils facing the Earth has been issued by more than 15,000 scientists from around the world. The first warning was issued in 1992 when 1,700 members of the Union of Concerned Scientists argued that humans are "on a collision course with nature".
In 1992, a majority of the worlds living Nobel Laureates united to sign a warning letter about the Earth. But, by and large, humanity has done a terrible job of making progress. Scientists predict many current life forms could be annihilated or near extinction by the end of this century. According to Newsweek, scientists revealed this month that the hole in the ozone layer, which hovers above Antarctica, is the smallest it has been since 1988.
The letter also cited reductions in poverty and hunger, declining fertility rates due to increases in women and girls' education, and commitment to renewable energy as other positive changes that have been made, noting that these measures show that people can produce "positive change when [they] act decisively". The letter listed 13 specific ways in which humans can make their existence more sustainable and limit their harmful effects on the environment. "Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences".
Among the steps that could be taken to prevent catastrophe are promoting plant-based diets; reducing wealth inequality, stopping conversions of forests and grasslands; government interventions to rein in biodiversity loss via poaching and illicit trade; and "massively adopting renewable energy sources" while phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.
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The letter is being released as the UN Climate Change Conference is underway in Bonn, Germany, amid what organizers say is a renewed urgency due to extreme weather events like this year's hurricanes and wildfires.
In the journal BioScience, the scientists, led by U.S. ecologist Professor William Ripple, said: "Humanity is now being given a second notice. 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".
The scientists said that especially troubling was the "current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change". During their presentation, the team representing the administration was heckled and interrupted by a protest song.
The scientists formed an independent organisation called the Alliance of World Scientists to voice concerns about environmental sustainability and the fate of humanity. Much of the world does seem to be taking this environmental degradation threat seriously - and it looks that they will proceed to address these issues despite the Trump administration's absence.