Scientists say the future of mankind on earth is under threat
Climate change, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and uncontrolled human population growth are all threatening the future of mankind and that of the Earth, they said.
The bleak warning comes a quarter of a century since a majority of the world’s living Nobel Laureates united to sign a warning letter about the Earth. Yesterday, the new group of scientists argued that 25 years on too little was being done.
The 1992 letter argued human impacts on the natural world were likely to lead to “vast human misery” and a planet that was “irretrievably mutilated.”
Yesterday’s warning to the globe, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries said humans had “unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.
The rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed
We are jeopardising our future
In it the scientists said: “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.”
It used data from governments, charities and individual researchers to warn of a “substantial and irreversible harm” to the Earth.
They argued since 1992, just one area of nine concerns has improved – the ozone zone.
There has also been a rapid decline in the number of children being born as women’s education levels increase and the rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed.
But now it required the public to pressure their political leaders to take more decisive action.
This could include more nature and marine reserves, tougher laws to stamp out poaching and trade in wildlife, better family planning and educational programmes, more vegetarianism and less food waste, and massively adopting renewable energy and other “green” technologies.
Professor William Ripple at Oregon State University said: “Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist.
“Scientists are in the business of analysing data and looking at the long-term consequences.
“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.
There are continuing significant increases in global carbon emissions
“We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.”
The article “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” notes 25 negative global trends.
These include a 26 per cent reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita, a drop in the harvest of wild-caught fish, despite an increase in fishing effort and a 75 per cent increase in the number of ocean dead zones.
There has also been a loss of 300 million acres of forestland, much of it converted for agricultural uses and a collective 29 per cent reduction in the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish.
There are continuing significant increases in global carbon emissions and average temperatures, a 35 per cent rise in human population.
But if there is the will, mankind can move the Earth’s systems toward sustainability.
Tougher laws to stamp out food waste may be introduced
The authors said: “To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual.
“This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning.
“Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out.
“We must recognise, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home.
“We can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend.”
The study was published today in the journal BioScience.