More than 15000 scientists issue 'warning to humanity'

The letter, originally written in 1992 and signed by 1,500 scientists, argued human impacts on the natural world were likely to lead to "vast human misery" and a planet that was "irretrievably mutilated", but a quarter of a century since a majority of the world's living Nobel Laureates united to sign a warning letter about the Earth, the global scientific community's view of the future is even more bleak.

The message updates an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists 25 years ago and backed by 1700 signatures.

A host of environmental calamities are highlighted, including catastrophic climate change, deforestation, mass species extinction, ocean "dead zones" and lack of fresh water.

In the time since that warning was issued, the only major progress humanity has made is in regards to the first point - ozone depletion. As Newsweek noted, today ozone-depleting substances have decreased by 68 percent and, in November, the ozone hole is at its smallest since the year 1988 (though it is still substantial).

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They're used for various things such as weather forecasting, nuclear weapons simulation and even to track space activity. In contrast, the US's fastest supercomputer, the Titan, is No. 5 on the list with a speed of 17.5 petaflops.

The letter outlines 13 steps that must be taken, including making contraception more widely available and "estimating a scientifically defensible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal".

Among the steps that could be taken to prevent catastrophe are promoting plant-based diets; reducing wealth inequality, stopping conversions of forests and grasslands; government interventions to rein in biodiversity loss via poaching and illicit trade; and "massively adopting renewable energy sources" while phasing out fossil fuel subsidies. Scientists also recommended ensuring that economic transactions consider environmental consequences - for example, the price of an item in a store should reflect the full environmental costs required to make it, not just the cost of the human labor used to produce it.

A failure to heed this second warning, however, could lead to dire outcome. These measures certainly fall in line with numerous suggestions made by scientists in the second warning letter. Global climate change is the top most priority of the novel letter's inventory of planetary menace. During their presentation, the team representing the administration was heckled and interrupted by a protest song.

To this end, Ripple and his colleagues have formed a new organization, the Alliance of World Scientists, aimed at providing a science-based perspective on issues affecting the well-being of people and the planet. Much of the world does seem to be taking this environmental degradation threat seriously - and it looks that they will proceed to address these issues despite the Trump administration's absence.

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