A group of 15000 scientists from 184 countries has issued a warning to humanity. They urge the masses to put significant public pressure on political leaders to take corrective actions and address top environmental problems.
In the article, “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” the scientists identified several trends that are causing “substantial and irreversible harm” to planet Earth. They included changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, and species extinctions. The article warns that these trends are severely threatening future human well-being and need immediate global attention.
Environmental Problems Worsen Over Last 25 Years
This report is the second of its kind. In 1992, the Union of Concerned Scientists, with over 1700 members, published the first warning. Since then, many environmental problems have significantly worsened.
The new report outlines the top 25-year global trends that are causing extensive environmental harm, as reported by ScienceDaily:
- A 26 percent 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
- A 75 percent increase in the number of ocean dead zones
- A loss of nearly 300 million acres of forestland, much of it converted for agricultural uses
- Continuing significant increases in global carbon emissions and average temperatures
- A 35 percent rise in human population
- A collective 29 percent reduction in the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish
To calculate these trends, report authors, led by William Ripple of the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, employed data from multiple sources. These included government agencies, non-profits and independent researchers. The final report was published in the journal BioScience.
Ripple explains the goal of publishing the warning:
Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist. Scientists are in the business of analyzing 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. We are hoping that our paper will ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate.
Proposed Steps to Reverse Negative Trends
The work needed to reverse the environmental problems currently facing humanity aren’t simple. Yet, the report shows that positive changes are possible. For example, there has been a reduction in emissions of chemicals that deplete the ozone. Additionally, there is a positive trend the development and use of renewable energy. Finally, some regions have seen a slowdown in the rate of deforestation.
Now more than ever, global citizens and their political leaders must support and pursue corrective actions. Some suggestions made by the report authors include:
- Creating new terrestrial and marine reserves
- Establishing stronger enforcement of anti-poaching laws
- Restraining wildlife trade
- Encouraging a shift towards eating more plant-based foods
- Massive adoption of renewable energy and green technologies
To read the full report and for more information, visit the Alliance of World Scientists. The organization’s goal is “to be a collective international voice of many scientists regarding global climate and environmental trends and how to turn accumulated knowledge into action.”
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