Some 15,000 scientists from 184 countries worldwide have signed a letter warning that Earth’s environment is on the road to destruction. The “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: Second Notice,” calls for action to avert irreversible damage to the planet.
[Selected excerpts from the letter below. Click above to read in it's entirety]
"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 recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home."
Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1500 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity."
These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction and cautioned that “agreat change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided.”
In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwater availability, marine fishery collapses, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.
The authors of the 1992 declaration feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the planet can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.
The scientists pleaded that we stabilize the human population, describing how our large numbers— swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future. They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.
On the 25th anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse.
Image above, credit: climaterealityproject
Image top of page: The Earth straddling the limb of the moon, as seen from above Compton crater by NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter on October 12, 2015. The large tan area in the upper right is the Sahara desert, and just beyond is Saudi Arabia. The Atlantic and Pacific coasts of South America are visible to the left.