More than 15,000 scientists from 184 States have assessed the environmental threats faced by the world today. They say humans have failed in solving environmental challenges.
This letter is a follow up of the 1992 “Warning to Humanity,” which was issued by 1700 scientists and was aimed to alert people about the importance of taking care of the Earth’s ecosystems because humans were destroying it. The new statement was published in the journal BioScience.
“Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” they wrote in the new publication.
Things will only get worse
This scientific warning was issued by the alliance of World Scientists, and it was published in the journal BioScience. It comes on the 25th anniversary of the similar warning, “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” which was released by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The latter was endorsed by 1700 scientist while the new warning is supported by more than 15,000 scientists from the entire world, which is almost ten times the number of scientists of the previous letter. This clearly shows that the state of the Earth and its ecosystems are profoundly damaged and that actions need to be taken now to prevent a catastrophic future. In these documents, scientists evaluate the condition of the Earth and predict the future requirements of the environment.
They also list the numerous challenges faced by the environment such as plagues, stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, deforestation, species loss decrease of the soil productivity among others. For example, they explain that the level of water availability is less than half of the levels existing in the 1960s. With it, the number of ocean dead zones have incremented alarmingly, due to the unconscious fishery patterns.
As well, the global average temperatures have risen by more than half a degree Celsius since 1992, which produces natural disasters and changes the natural cycle of the ecosystems. As well, carbon dioxide emissions have augmented by 62 percent.
While there are 2 billion people more on the Earth than when the first communique has published, the population of other animals has decreased by 30 percent.
“If not checked,” wrote the scientists, led by particle physicist and Union of Concerned Scientists co-founder Henry Kendall, “many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.”
A mass extinction event by the end of this century
According to Oregon State University ecologist William Ripple — who started the initiative — this letter is the second notice, but he said that soon it would be too late to shift the course away from the terrible trajectory humans have taken. Ripple and some colleagues started the Alliance of World Scientists, to raise consciousness about the issues affecting the people and the planet based on scientific evidence.
Ripple commented that the scientists who joined the initiative and signed the letter are not raising false alarms, they are just acknowledging the obvious signs of an unsustainable way of living. Ripple and his colleagues hope that they can initiate a public debate about the environment with their letter.
“On the 25th anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data,” the paper reads. “We have 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.”
Can humans reduce their impact on the planet?
It all seems like bad news when it comes to the environment and the impact of human actions on the species. However, recently there was a sole good thing about the environment, specifically regarding the planet’s protective ozone layer.
According to NASA and other scientists, the hole in the ozone layer shrunk to its smallest size since 1988. It was due to the efforts that were taken by countries after the Montreal Protocol to avoid the use of chlorofluorocarbons in the chemicals needed for air conditioners, aerosol cans, and refrigerators which cause the ozone depletion. This is proof that human actions can also make positive changes to solve the environmental challenges.
In fact, the authors of the communique offer 13 suggestions for reducing the impact humanity has on the planning including the development of green technologies, the establishment of nature reserves, and the promotion of economic incentives to move forward to sustainable patterns of consumption.
However, the question is if it is too late already and if there is the willingness of the enterprises, the government and the civil societies to make such a change.
Source: The Washington Post