Antonio Manaytay – Fourth Estate Contributor
London, United Kingdom (4E) – Some 15,000 scientists could never go wrong. These scientists representing 184 countries had called for action to save the planet to pull perils due to climate change, extinction of species, and deforestation.
The Alliance of World Scientists (AWS), in a paper published in the journal Bioscience, issued the warning 25 years after the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) warned of environmental destruction in a letter, “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity.” For the details of the UCS letter in 1992, visit the following link: http://www.ucsusa.org/about/1992-world-scientists.html#.WgoE8caWbIU.
The AWS said: On the 25th anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data.”
The path to impending destruction is troubling: record level greenhouse gases due to continued use of fossil fuels, deforestation, destructive agricultural practices.
“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 paper said.
The scientists raised the specter that hounds over freshwater availability, unsustainable marine fisheries, ocean dead zones, forest losses, dwindling biodiversity, climate change, and population growth. Most of these, according to the paper, have deteriorated since the first warning by UCS in 1992.
The burgeoning population and the growing middle class is expected to make the matter worse, a co-author of the paper said.
“The rapid rise of the global middle class, which is now more than three billion people in the world and is expected by 2050 or so to rise to five billion people… The chief concern isn’t really the human numbers as such. It’s the impact we have,” paper co-author Eileen Crist told CBC News.
The rising numbers of middle class mean more appliances, cars, travel, and eat consumption, all of which leave carbon footprints that exacerbate climate change.
Crist, however, clarified that the rising numbers of the middle class are good but it also comes at a cost to the environment.
Increased consumption, she said, threatens the Earth’s biodiversity.
“We are in the throes of mass extinction event that is anthropogenic,” she said.
“This is something we can fix. If we lose 50 to 75 percent of the species on the planet in this century – which is what scientists are telling us what will occur if we continue to operate as business-as-usual – if this happens, this cannot be fixed,” she added.
The paper had outlined the major steps to be undertaken to mitigate the situation: bringing the activities that further damage the environment under control, managing vital resources for human welfare more effectively, put a reign on the seeming runaway population, anti-poverty alleviation programs to reduce poverty, allowing women greater power over reproductive decisions.
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