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14 November 2017, 03:52 | Edward Lowe
Human well-being will be severely jeopardised by negative trends in some types of environmental harm, such as a changing climate, deforestation, loss of access to fresh water, species extinctions and human population growth, scientists warn in today's issue of BioScience, an worldwide journal.
The article, "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice", has been co-signed by over 15,000 scientists in 184 countries and was published today in the journal BioScience.
Unfortunately, the findings confirmed things haven't gotten much better.
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To mark the letter's 25th anniversary, researchers have issued a bracing follow-up.
However, a quarter of a century later since the majority of Nobel laureates united to sign the warning letter about Earth, the global scientific community's view of the future is even more grim. They described how we are fast approaching numerous limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm.
"It's an overwhelming response we didn't quite expect", says Thomas Newsome, a co-author of the report and research fellow at Deakin University and The University of Sydney. Global climate change is the top most priority of the novel letter's inventory of planetary menace. There have been dramatic increases in human population, annual surface temperatures, carbon dioxide emissions and ocean dead zones.
But it's far from the only problem people face. Fisheries' total yields have declined strongly since 1996.
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The number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish has fallen by 29%. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by almost 30 percent. The ozone hole has been shrinking, fairly consistently, and this year it was the smallest seen since 1988. Scientists credit that progress to the phasing out of chlorofluorocarbons - chemicals once used in refrigerators, air conditioners and aerosol cans that trigger reactions in the atmosphere to break down ozone.
The authors offer 13 suggestions for reining in our impact on the planet, including establishing nature reserves, reducing food waste, developing green technologies and establishing economic incentives to shift patterns of consumption.
The article was written by an worldwide team led by William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. "They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path". "We are hoping that our paper will ignite a widespread public debate about the global environment and climate".
It is clear that environmental scientists believe that the world still has a long way to go before it can ensure a sustainable, healthy future for the planet and for humanity.
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