15,000 Scientists Give ‘Second Notice’ Warning to Humanity

A massive group of international scientists has officially released the “second notice” warning, an update to a 1990s letter to humanity that claimed the world would face impending catastrophe without prompt action.

This might sound like a bold warning, but the scientists involved say that the evidence is stark and clear. Oregon State University Professor William Ripple explained:

Humanity is now being given a second notice … 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. By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivise renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.

The original warning came in 1992 when a group of 1,700 scientists, collectively forming the Union of Concerned Scientists, penned the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” That document highlighted the dangers facing the globe, including climate change, and stated 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.”

The Paris Agreement, of which every major nation except the United States is now a part, is one example of the groundbreaking steps that global powers have been able to achieve.

Now, the group of over 15,000 scientists is keen to point out that this isn’t a lost cause by any means. While the future may look murky at best, they highlight successes that show calamity can be avoided with concerted action. For example, rapid action to stop the thinning ozone layer over the past two decades has been a marked success. Globally, we have worked incredibly hard to reduce famine and food security-threatening poverty.

In addition, issues that may have once been classed as periphery problems — like the education of girls and young women — are now understood as vital to not just the human rights of women, but also to overall economic growth and stability for some of the poorest nations in the world.

The letter is not merely a list of complaints, however. It also offers tangible, science-supported solutions to the issues it raises.

Among those solutions is protecting valuable marine, terrestrial and, notably, aerial ecosystems by setting aside reserves. The letter advocates for broad protections to prevent further deforestation, while restoring and rewilding native species of plants and animals – particularly apex predators.

Additionally, the letter addresses the issue of overpopulation and contends that reductions in population rates will be vital. This can be achieved by ensuring that family planning services are available to all. I would also argue that LGBTQIA-inclusive sex education is also vital to this goal.

The letter notes that a shift to a predominantly plant-based diet appears to be another key ingredient of a sustainable future, something with which many major health and scientific bodies also agree. The scientists also call for greater “outdoor nature education” for children to facilitate a better understanding of our interconnectedness.

But the letter’s comment on the economy is perhaps the most interesting aspect.

The scientists state that “revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption patterns impose on our environment;” is key. And they examine the so-called “growth economy” model, claiming in uncompromising terms that our obsession with more wealth and things is also a major problem.

The letter concludes:

To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual. This prescription was well articulated by the world’s leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning. 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.

The Second Warning raises major, urgent concerns and asks that we look at our lives on both an individual and societal level and explore where we can reduce our impact. It also demands another key question from us: How long will we continue to participate in the growth economy when we know that it is damaging every aspect of our lives for the benefit of just a handful of the world’s population?

Photo Credit: NASA/Flickr

79 comments

Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Thank you

SEND
Stephanie s
Stephanie s7 days ago

Thank you

SEND
Paulo R
Paulo R20 days ago

birth control should be plentiful and free in developing nations. It should also be in vending machines in as many places as possible, universally. Overpopulation will be our death eventually.

SEND
Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld20 days ago

Kathryn,
I would substitute politician for republican in your last post, as neither party really has much of a scientific understanding.

SEND
Kathryn I
Kathryn I20 days ago

Republicans are much too ignorant to believe in science; it's too "deep" for their feeble brains to take in.

SEND
Elsie O
Elsie O22 days ago

In the 80s and 90s, climatologists warned that people would not accept the reality of climate change until the satellite photos showed the receding polar ice caps. Today, those photos have been evident for years, but people are still in denial, because they are being skillfully misled by corporate polluters and others (including some churches) who have something to gain by retaining the status quo. The public needs to become more analytical in its thinking, and less gullible to mob manipulation.

SEND
Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei23 days ago

Annabel B.,

Do you actually think that you would have gotten "reasoning", if Ron had found the courage to reply to you? He wouldn't know "reasoning" if it shat on his empty head.

I've yet to see an example of cogent reasoning from any of the rightwing drama queens who post their trollery here on Care2 and then run to hide in the bushes.

Cletus

SEND
Danuta W
Danuta W23 days ago

Thank you for sharing

SEND
Annabel Bedini
Annabel Bedini24 days ago

Regus S
I fear you are right (though I don't go along with the rabbit analogy, their pellets aren't smelly) and Rod is not going to respond. It's a pity, because I would be really interested to know his reasoning.

SEND
Regus Slantei
Regus Slantei24 days ago

Annabel B.,

You won't be hearing from Rod. He is long gone. He's like the bunny rabbit who leaves his smelly pellets on your lawn before running off into the bushes.

He merely displays typical [R] behavior; he is an intellectual COWARD.

Cletus

SEND