Recently, several news sources have revealed that more than 15,000 scientists have signed a dire warning letter to humanity, urging society to address major environmental concerns. Titled as a “Second Notice,” the stern warning comes 25 years after similar concerns were expressed in a letter backed by more than 1,700 scientists. However, as the updated warning points out, things have significantly worsened since then.
Of course, anyone not so completely self-absorbed as to have their head completely stuck up their ass should know this. Changes to the environment, population growth, and an overzealous pursuit of profit over sustainability or health spells out a particularly bleak future. The 1973 science fiction thriller “Soylent Green” depicted a dystopian future where oceans are dying, global warming, over population, poverty, and depleted resources. While its solution may be considered hyperbole by some, its predictions are eerily close to an impending reality.
As the Second Notice reads, our only course is swift action to “limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species…” and further notes that “Humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperiled biosphere.” For those allergic to a dictionary, biosphere = The Planet We Live On.
In other words, one cannot reasonably expect constant growth in a limited environment (aka, The Earth). There is no such thing as “limitless” – everything is impacted by limitations such as availability, reach, suitability, and the like. As such, when growth and consumption is promoted over survival, the only result will be a doomed future of eventual extinction.
The letter notes compound problems such as access to fresh water in decline, as has the amount of forestland and the number of wild-caught fish (a marker of the health of global fisheries). The number of ocean dead zones has increased. Human population grew 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by nearly 30 percent.
Oh, and for those that are convinced we will find a way to suddenly leap into interstellar travel and interplanetary colonies before then I would point this out… If the world’s governments and populace doesn’t see or acknowledge a problem, do you really believe it will ACT on it?? Come on!! While its nice to believe that folks will get up the willpower and commit to the resources to save the species it will more than likely be too late to actually achieve it.
I have mixed feelings about this, as I see humanity behaving much the way a cancer does – out of control behavior set on self-destructive rampant growth. On one hand we people can be pretty neat, creative, and beautiful; but the majority not so much. So perhaps it IS time for another mass extinction event, and give the Earth another chance to see something else arise… and screw up all on its own.