About 20,000 scientists have now signed a letter warning about the fate of humanity, saying that we are not doing enough to avert disaster.
The paper is titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice”. It follows on from a similar letter signed in 1992 by the Union of Concerned Scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates, warning about the fate of humanity.
The letter is intended to stir political leaders into action to address some of the main challenges threatening our world, such as climate change and deforestation. The scientists who have signed the paper say that we need to take immediate action for the sake of current and future generations.
“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,” they write.
“Moreover, 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.”
The latest warning to humanity was unveiled in November 2017 with 15,000 signatories, but 4,500 more have now been added. More are still being encouraged to write their names, in what appears to be the most scientists ever to sign a published journal article.
The paper is currently the sixth most discussed research paper in the world, according to The Altmetric, and has prompted attention in both the Israeli and Canadian governments.
"Our scientists' warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public," Professor William Ripple from Oregon State University, the lead author of the paper, said in a statement.
It’s hoped that the paper, and subsequent comment pieces, may lead to solutions such as introducing higher global carbon prices and encouraging tackling the issue via a Nobel Prize in Economics.
A number of other solutions are also touted, including restoring native plant communities, addressing the poaching crisis, and devising and promoting new green technologies.
“To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual,” the paper notes.
“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.”