15000 scientists say threats to planet now 'far worse'

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The new notice was signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries and drew on data from government agencies, non-profit organisations and individual researchers.

"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".

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".

The new warning, published Monday in the journal Bioscience, was also endorsed by several Canadian scientists and graduate or PhD students.

"We are jeopardising our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats", it said.

They said progress made in some areas, including reducing ozone-depleting chemicals and increasing renewable energy generation, had been far outweighed by the damage.

There has also been a rapid decline in the number of children women are having as education levels increase and the rate of deforestation in some regions has also slowed.

The article was written by an worldwide team led by William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University.

"Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences", Ripple said in a release.

He said that those who signed this second warning aren't just raising a false alarm.

The goal of the paper, said Ripple, is to "ignite a wide-spread public debate about the global environment and climate".

These include a 26 per cent reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita, a drop in the harvest of wild-caught fish, despite an increase in fishing effort and a 75 per cent increase in the number of ocean dead zones.

Almost 300 million acres of forest have been lost, mostly to make way for agricultural land. The Earth's human population has swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, an increase of 35%.

But if there is the will, mankind can move the Earth's systems toward sustainability.

'This prescription was well articulated by the world's leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning.

The authors include a cautionary note: "Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out".

Perhaps we are more damaging than ever, as mass production and other human impact continue to adversely affect the planet.



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