- Nov 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm #3502061
World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second NoticeNov 15, 2017 at 1:45 am #3502180
This article is a response after 25 years to the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” made in 1992 by the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1,700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences. The original warning called on humankind to curtail environmental destruction, and cautioned that “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided”.
It feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capacities to support the web of life, and described how we are fast approaching many of the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm. They pleaded that the human population be stabilized, describing how our large population—swollen by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 % increase—exerts stresses on Earth that can overwhelm efforts to realize a sustainable future. They implored that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions be cut, fossil fuels phased out, deforestation reduced, and the trend of collapsing biodiversity reversed.
This second notice, by William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Thomas M. Newsome, Mauro Galetti, Mohammed Alamgir, Eileen Crist, Mahmoud I. Mahmoud, William F. Laurance, and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries, has just been published (13 November 2017). This 25th anniversary response reviews the earlier warning, and evaluates the human response by exploring available time-series data. In that time period, apart from stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in solving the foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are severely worsening. The authors were especially troubled by the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural production—particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption. Moreover, they consider that humanity has unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could well be annihilated or facing extinction by the end of this century.
Though brief, it makes for sobering reading. This crisis is real, urgent, and we need to deal with it. I can’t help but feel it puts contemporary worries, such as mass shootings, gun control, immigration policies – even fears of the effects of international political destabilization, terrorism, the refugee crisis, and threats of nuclear attack – into proper perspective. If we cannot properly deal with this manmade environmental crisis, these other concerns will prove to be of complete insignificance. We need to find the will to confront it.
Nov 15, 2017 at 2:45 am #3502200
- This reply was modified 4 days, 3 hours ago by Robert Meurant.
Figure 1. Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC-11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.Nov 16, 2017 at 10:24 am #3502374
The article suggests diverse and effective steps that humanity can take to transition to sustainability include:
a) prioritizing the enactment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habitats;
b) maintaining nature’s ecosystem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats;
c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particularly forest landscapes;
d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics;
e) developing and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploitation and trade of threatened species;
f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure;
g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods;
h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-planning services, especially where such resources are still lacking;
i) increasing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engagement of society in the appreciation of nature;
j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encourage positive environmental change;
k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phasing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels;
l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs that consumption patterns impose on our environment; and
m) estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term, while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.
Nov 16, 2017 at 2:25 pm #3502391
- This reply was modified 2 days, 18 hours ago by Robert Meurant.
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
free birth control : )Nov 17, 2017 at 4:17 am #3502517
The latest cringeworthy environmental effort from the Trump administration:
“The elephant population has declined drastically. Let’s fast-track them for extinction, while we still can!”
The bodies of elephants killed by poachers are left behind in Bouba Ndjidah National Park, in Cameroon. Researchers for the Great Elephant Census found only 148 elephants in the entire country.
African Elephant Numbers Plummet 30 Percent, Landmark Survey FindsNov 17, 2017 at 5:08 am #3502564
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Trump is evil. Period. This is another Obama directive that he overturned…because Obama did it. The man is deranged.Nov 17, 2017 at 5:14 am #3502567
Jeffrey – yes I agree, free birth control just makes sense, but there simply seems little commonsense in recent US administrative decisions or policy. And Trump does appear as the embodiment of myopic self-interest. The rash of anti-Obama legislation attempts just seem really petty, reactionary, and worse, deeply out of touch with contemporary reality. Worldwide, nations are attempting to shift from fossil fuel consumption to renewable energy sources that do not further pollute the planet – and Trump encourages coal consumption. Environmental regulation is desperately needed to mitigate the effects of global warming and environmental pollution, but he guts the EPA. The US has lost enormous stature – and potential trade – as a consequence of pulling out of the TTP, handing China a wonderful opportunity to compete against the US. All of these farces have a common theme – Trump and his entourage are protected by their obscene wealth from having to deal with reality – and they clearly do not give a damn about anyone or anything else but themsaelves. Global civilization is becoming ever more complex, and in need of more effective management – but this ‘devil take the hindmost’ approach is grossly irresponsible. Even the truly impressive armada of US naval power demonstrated just recently plays directly into KJU’s hand – he can sit and twiddle his thumbs while the US spends countless millions – likely billions – of dollars per day projecting force that it cannot actually use, without grossly insulting humanity, and inviting retaliation by China and Russia. Then when it all settles down, and most of the fleet have left the area, KJU can just continue his nuclear weapon development, until the next round of sanctions and performing seals.
God forbid. I have to wonder whether Republicans are completely out of touch with reality… and why should everyone else and the planet have to pay for what looks like nothing more than crass stupidity? (Not that Democrats are that much better, but they do seem to try…)
Nov 17, 2017 at 5:15 am #3502569
- This reply was modified 1 day, 16 hours ago by Robert Meurant.
I’m going to have my 19th nervous breakdown right now: …3, 2, 1.Nov 17, 2017 at 5:18 am #3502570
Ken T.BPL Member
A pandemic and a volcanic eruption. Problems solved.
Elephants don’t vote or have money.Nov 17, 2017 at 5:48 am #3502573
jeffrey armbrusterBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
Laurie Garrett’s The Coming Plague suggests that a pandemic is not out of the question. My dentist warns me about the coming plaque if I don’t floss more.
Elephants dancing on our graves has a certain justice to it.Nov 17, 2017 at 5:56 am #3502575
Mark FowlerBPL Member
The next denial topic – air pollution is not harmful to human health.Nov 17, 2017 at 5:57 am #3502576Nov 17, 2017 at 8:29 am #3502588
If the right honorable lady or gentleman would communicate the substance of her or his objection to the content of my previous post, I would be happy to review and repost it accordingly. The post was not intended to be taken in any way personally by any BPL member.
Also, I later realized Ken’s comment “Elephants don’t vote or have money” could be taken in two different ways. I think I interpreted correctly the first time, but if the less likely interpretation is that power justifies the political process (I think it unlikely that was actually his intention), I would then have to gently disagree. I consider many, perhaps most, of the problems we face today actually proceed from the political mentality, and as a species, we need to evolve beyond that (and bloody rapidly if we are to survive). Irrespective of the materialistically machinating and politically privileged prospering, the environment and the ecology are objectively being demeaned, disfigured, deteriorated, and every dire disaster beginning with d that could possibly be deucedly, dishandedly, and disingenuously demanded. Hence Jeffrey is quite remonstrably right (while being levitatingly left) to ascribe diabolic qualities to the profanely present indifferent incumbent of the abject administration, who delights in deliberative and de-liberalizing division, diversion, derision, and discord.Nov 17, 2017 at 2:28 pm #3502609
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
I could search for photos of Trump’s kids holding up animal body parts from Africa safaris they’ve been on. Like elephant trunk. They’re into killing large animals.
On the other hand, I have heard of preserves where they make enough money from hunters to pay for the preserve. If an animal isn’t endangered they can “harvest” some of them.Nov 17, 2017 at 8:33 pm #3502672
Justin WBPL Member
When it comes to the issue of cleaning up pollution, I’m about as bed wetting liberal as they come (and think we need to make some major changes).
Yet, some bigger picture perspective: About 13, 000 years ago, events (most likely asteroid impacts) happened to knock off (make extinct) about 75% of the large, land mammal species which then existed. There was a much greater diversity before those events, as compared to now. The amount of species that went extinct around this period, is greater than the same number of similar category of species now (land mammals over a hundred lbs). North America was hit particularly bad by these events. Certain parts of Africa seemed to have it easiest (relatively speaking), which is why a lot of the large land mammals species that we have in the world, are now concentrated in Africa.
In the ice core samples taken in Greenland, there was observed temperature oscillations of over 14 degrees F in the average temps from different years to years around some of these earlier periods.
There are various examples of huge mammals like wooly mammoths deep frozen within about a 10 hour period, so much so that the flowers, grass, and plants they had been eating, some 12, 000 to 13, 000 years later didn’t show signs of putrefaction within their stomachs. It’s estimated that the temps went from moderate temps, to -150 degrees F, within matter of minutes and hours (it would take about 10 hours of such extreme temps to deep freeze such a massive, warm blooded mammal).
Modern humans were alive then. They survived obviously. And we’re worried about a few degrees? What people talk about as “catastrophe” due to recent CO2 increase is a nice stroll in the park compared to some of these prior epochs. Every other few years, we’re finding more data and realizing that modern humans have gone through more of these truly catastrophic events/periods than previously thought.
Apparently folks missed the news that some of the top climate scientist teams recently came out and said not all recent warming is attributed to CO2 as much as we previously thought.
Crisis and catastrophe are intense, heavy words, with far reaching implications. Get some bigger picture, historical perspective and learn to use them accurately. We’ve been, even in the last couple centuries, in remarkably stable and favorable (for humans) climatic conditions for some 12, 000 years compared to the bigger picture/long term historical perspective. And during that time, it was during the “little ice ages” which tended to last around a half century or so, that humanity really suffered. We know this, because some of these happened after the first discovered writing.
The dark age and mass Euro plagues for example, coincided with such mini periods of global cooling. Clean up pollution PLEASE(!), but realize that the Earth and it’s climate is far more dynamic and constantly changing that many really understand or think about. Current data shows that there have been about 12 of these truly catastrophic and major climate change periods in the about 200, 000 years that modern humans have been around (rounding up slightly).
The sky is not falling yet, but it will be so obvious to everyone when it actually begins to again.Nov 19, 2017 at 3:47 am #3502855
Justin WBPL Member
“The amount of species that went extinct around this period, is greater than the same number of similar category of species now (land mammals over a hundred lbs)”
Correction: the above is an inaccurate statement–it was about equal to (not greater than). The amount of species that went extinct within a relatively short time period, was about 120.
Also to add, during this last 11, 000 to 12, 000 or so years of relative, unusual stability and favorable conditions for modern humans, we have seen warmer yearly global temps and periods than currently.
Greenland once had an agricultural area with people living there off of crops grown. England around that time had a completely natural (no gmo involved) grape/wine industry. It’s always been during the warmer periods that humans have thrived. What would absolutely cause major issues is some kind of longer term global cooling period. Whether from Solar grand minimum, major volcanic eruption, another asteroid/comet strike, etc it would cause humans major issues as compared to a slight increase in warming—particularly because of loss of crops (one of the main problems during previous mini ice ages).
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