Scientists warn Earth is on the road to ruin

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Twenty five years ago, a majority of the world's living Nobel Laureates united to sign a warning letter about the Earth.

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries worldwide, including scores from MA universities, have signed a letter warning that Earth's environment is on the road to destruction.

"With the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer", the authors wrote in this updated correspondence, "humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges", adding rather worryingly that "alarmingly, a lot of them are getting far worse".

Writing in the online worldwide journal BioScience, the scientists led by top USA ecologist Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: "Humanity is now being given a second notice ..."

According to the University of Sydney, co-author Thomas Newsome thinks it is the highest ever number of signatories to a scientific paper, and he saw a big response when he shared the warning on Twitter.

"Working together while respecting the diversity of people and opinions and the need for social justice around the world, we can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend", the scientists suggest in the end of their letter.

"As most political leaders respond to pressure, scientists, media influencers, and lay citizens must insist that their governments take immediate action as a moral imperative to current and future generations of human and other life", they wrote.

"On the 25th anniversary of their call, we look back at their warning", the new letter says.

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It also noted that there has been a collective 29 per cent reduction in the numbers of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish and a 75 per cent increase in the number of ocean dead zones.

Progress in some areas - such as a reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and an increase in energy generated from renewable sources - shows that positive changes can be made, the authors wrote.

A large part of these environmental catastrophes are due to the rise in human population.

"To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to business as usual".

Apart from the hole in the ozone layer, which has now been stabilised, every one of the major threats identified in 1992 has worsened.

"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 imperilled biosphere". It lists what they consider the main dangers, including climate change, population growth, deforestation, species extinction, and loss of access to clean water, and highlights how terribly we are doing at tackling them.

The article was published on Monday in BioScience.

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