• Write at least a paragraph (5 to 8 sentences) response for each question.
Reading 1: World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
William J. Ripple et al.
1. In November 2017, world scientists’ issued a second warning notice to humanity. Why?
2. What steps are required to achieve sustainability? Give two examples (p. 3)
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World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice
WILLIAM J. RIPPLE, CHRISTOPHER WOLF, THOMAS M. NEWSOME, MAURO GALETTI, MOHAMMED ALAMGIR, EILEEN CRIST, MAHMOUD I. MAHMOUD, WILLIAM F. LAURANCE, and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries
Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1700 independent scientists, including the majority of living Nobel laureates in the sciences, penned the 1992 “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” (see supplemental file S1). These concerned professionals called on humankind to curtail environmen- tal destruction and cautioned 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.” In their manifesto, they showed that humans were on a collision course with the natural world. They expressed concern about current, impending, or potential damage on planet Earth involving ozone depletion, freshwa- ter availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiver- sity destruction, climate change, and continued human population growth. They proclaimed that fundamental changes were urgently needed to avoid the consequences our present course would bring.
The authors of the 1992 declara- tion feared that humanity was pushing Earth’s ecosystems beyond their capac- ities to support the web of life. They described how we are fast approach- ing many of the limits of what the biosphere can tolerate without substantial and irreversible harm. The scientists pleaded that we stabi- lize the human population, describing how our large numbers—swelled by another 2 billion people since 1992, a 35 percent increase—exert stresses on Earth that can overwhelm other efforts to realize a sustainable future (Crist et al. 2017). They implored that we cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emis- sions and phase out fossil fuels, reduce
deforestation, and reverse the trend of collapsing biodiversity.
On the twenty-fifth anniversary of their call, we look back at their warn- ing and evaluate the human response by exploring available time-series data. Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solv- ing these foreseen environmental chal- lenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse (figure 1, file S1). Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change due to rising GHGs from burning fossil fuels (Hansen et al. 2013), deforestation (Keenan et al. 2015), and agricultural production— particularly from farming ruminants for meat consumption (Ripple et al. 2014). 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.
Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends (figure 1). We are jeopardizing 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 (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately 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, humanity is not taking
the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.
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. With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing. It is also time to re-examine and change our individual behaviors, including limiting our own reproduction (ideally to replacement level at most) and drastically diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources.
The rapid global decline in ozone- depleting substances shows that we can make positive change when we act decisively. We have also made advancements in reducing extreme poverty and hunger (www.worldbank. org). Other notable progress (which does not yet show up in the global data sets in figure 1) include the rapid decline in fertility rates in many regions attributable to investments in girls’ and women’s education (www. un.org/esa/population), the promising decline in the rate of deforestation in some regions, and the rapid growth in the renewable-energy sector. We have learned much since 1992, but the advancement of urgently needed changes in environmental policy, human behavior, and global inequities is still far from sufficient.
Sustainability transitions come about in diverse ways, and all require civil-society pressure and evidence- based advocacy, political leadership, and a solid understanding of policy
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Figure 1. Trends over time for environmental issues identified in the 1992 scientists’ warning to humanity. The years before and after the 1992 scientists’ warning are shown as gray and black lines, respectively. Panel (a) shows emissions of halogen source gases, which deplete stratospheric ozone, assuming a constant natural emission rate of 0.11 Mt CFC- 11-equivalent per year. In panel (c), marine catch has been going down since the mid-1990s, but at the same time, fishing effort has been going up (supplemental file S1). The vertebrate abundance index in panel (f) has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias but incorporates relatively little data from developing countries, where there are the fewest studies; between 1970 and 2012, vertebrates declined by 58 percent, with freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declining by 81, 36, and 35 percent, respectively (file S1). Five-year means are shown in panel (h). In panel (i), ruminant livestock consist of domestic cattle, sheep, goats, and buffaloes. Note that y-axes do not start at zero, and it is important to inspect the data range when interpreting each graph. Percentage change, since 1992, for the variables in each panel are as follows: (a) –68.1%; (b) –26.1%; (c) –6.4%; (d) +75.3%; (e) –2.8%; (f) –28.9%; (g) +62.1%; (h) +167.6%; and (i) humans: +35.5%, ruminant livestock: +20.5%. Additional descriptions of the variables and trends, as well as sources for figure 1, are included in file S1.
CO2 emissions (Gt CO2 per year)
Temperature change (°C)
Population (billion individuals)
Dead zones (number of affected regions)
Total forest (billion ha)
Vertebrate species abundance (% of 1970)
Ozone depletors (Mt CFC− 11−equivalent per year)
Freshwater resources per capita (1000 m3)
Reconstructed marine catch (Mt per year)
1960 1992 2016 1960 1992 2016 1960 1992 2016
g. h. i.
d. e. f.
a. b. c.
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instruments, markets, and other driv- ers. Examples of diverse and effective steps humanity can take to transition to sustainability include the follow- ing (not in order of importance or urgency): (a) prioritizing the enact- ment of connected well-funded and well-managed reserves for a significant proportion of the world’s terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and aerial habi- tats; (b) maintaining nature’s ecosys- tem services by halting the conversion of forests, grasslands, and other native habitats; (c) restoring native plant communities at large scales, particu- larly forest landscapes; (d) rewilding regions with native species, especially apex predators, to restore ecological processes and dynamics; (e) devel- oping and adopting adequate policy instruments to remedy defaunation, the poaching crisis, and the exploi- tation and trade of threatened spe- cies; (f) reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure; (g) promoting dietary shifts towards mostly plant-based foods; (h) further reducing fertility rates by ensuring that women and men have access to education and voluntary family-plan- ning services, especially where such resources are still lacking; (i) increas- ing outdoor nature education for children, as well as the overall engage- ment of society in the appreciation of nature; (j) divesting of monetary investments and purchases to encour- age positive environmental change; (k) devising and promoting new green technologies and massively adopting renewable energy sources while phas- ing out subsidies to energy production through fossil fuels; (l) revising our economy to reduce wealth inequality and ensure that prices, taxation, and incentive systems take into account the real costs which consumption pat- terns impose on our environment; and (m) estimating a scientifically defen- sible, sustainable human population size for the long term while rallying nations and leaders to support that vital goal.
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.
Epilogue We have been overwhelmed with the support for our article and thank the more than 15,000 signatories from all ends of the Earth (see supplemental file S2 for list of signatories). As far as we know, this is the most scientists to ever co-sign and formally support a published journal article. In this paper, we have captured the environmental trends over the last 25 years, showed realistic concern, and suggested a few examples of possible remedies. Now, as an Alliance of World Scientists ( scientists.forestry.oregonstate.edu) and with the public at large, it is important to continue this work to document chal- lenges, as well as improved situations, and to develop clear, trackable, and practical solutions while communicat- ing trends and needs to world leaders. 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.
Spanish, Portuguese, and French versions of this article can be found in file S1.
Acknowledgments Peter Frumhoff and Doug Boucher of the Union of Concerned Scientists, as well as the following individuals, provided thoughtful discussions, comments, or data for this paper: Stuart Pimm, David Johns, David Pengelley, Guillaume Chapron, Steve Montzka, Robert Diaz, Drik Zeller, Gary Gibson, Leslie Green, Nick Houtman,
Peter Stoel, Karen Josephson, Robin Comforto, Terralyn Vandetta, Luke Painter, Rodolfo Dirzo, Guy Peer, Peter Haswell, and Robert Johnson.
Supplemental material Supplementary data are available at BIOSCI online including supplemental file 1 and supplemental file 2 (full list of all 15,364 signatories).
References cited Crist E, Mora C, Engelman R. 2017. The interac-
tion of human population, food production, and biodiversity protection. Science 356: 260–264.
Hansen J, et al. 2013. Assessing “dangerous climate change”: Required reduction of carbon emissions to protect young people, future generations and nature. PLOS ONE 8 (art. e81648).
Keenan, RJ, Reams GA, Achard F, de Freitas JV, Grainger A, Lindquist E. 2015. Dynamics of global forest area: Results from the FAO Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015. Forest Ecology and Management 352: 9–20.
Ripple WJ, Smith P, Haberl H, Montzka SA, McAlpine C, Boucher DH. 2014. Ruminants, climate change and climate policy. Nature Climate Change 4: 2–5. doi:10.1038/ nclimate2081
William J. Ripple (email@example.com), Christopher Wolf, and Thomas M. Newsome
are affiliated with the Global Trophic Cascades Program in the Department of Forest Ecosystems
and Society at Oregon State University, in Corvallis. TMN is also affiliated with the Centre
for Integrative Ecology at Deakin University, in Geelong, Australia, and the School of Life and
Environmental Sciences at The University of Sydney, Australia. Mauro Galetti is affiliated
with the Instituto de Biociências, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Departamento de Ecologia,
in São Paulo, Brazil. Mohammed Alamgir is affiliated with the Institute of Forestry and
Environmental Sciences at the University of Chittagong, in Bangladesh. Eileen Crist is
affiliated with the Department of Science and Technology in Society at Virginia Tech, in
Blacksburg. Mahmoud I. Mahmoud is affiliated with the ICT/Geographic Information Systems
Unit of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), in Abuja, Nigeria. William F. Laurance is affiliated with the Centre
for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science and the College of Science and
Engineering at James Cook University, in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
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Supplemental File S1 For the article “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” published in
BioScience in 2017 by William J. Ripple, Christopher Wolf, Mauro Galetti, Thomas M
Newsome, Mohammed Alamgir, Eileen Crist, Mahmoud I. Mahmoud, William F. Laurance
and 15,364 signatories from 184 countries (see supplemental File S2)
Descriptions of variables and trends in figure 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
References for figure 1. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
Full text of the 1992 World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity . . . . . . . . . 4-6
Descriptions of variables and trends in Figure 1. _________________________________________________________________________________________
Ozone depletion, Figure 1a. During the 1970s, human-produced chemicals known as ozone-depleting substances, mainly
chlorofluorocarbons, were rapidly depleting the ozone layer. In 1987, governments of the world came together and crafted
the United Nations Montreal Protocol as a global attempt to address this issue. With protocol compliance, emissions of
halogen source gases (ozone-depleting substances and natural sources) peaked in the late 1980s and since then they have
significantly decreased (Figure 1a). Global ozone depletion is no longer increasing, and significant recovery of the ozone
layer is expected to occur by the middle of this century (Hegglin et al. 2014).
Declining Freshwater availability, Figure 1b. Per capita freshwater availability is less than half of levels of the early
1960s (Figure 1b, AQUASTAT 2017) with many people around the world suffering from a lack of fresh clean water. This
decrease in available water is nearly all due to the accelerated pace of human population growth. It is likely that climate
change will have an overwhelming impact on the freshwater availability through alteration of the hydrologic cycle and water
availability. Future water shortages will be detrimental to humans, affecting everything from drinking water, human health,
sanitation, and the production of crops for food.
Unsustainable marine fisheries, Figure 1c. In 1992, the total marine catch was at or above the maximum sustainable yield
and fisheries were on the verge of collapse. Reconstructed time series data show that global marine fisheries catches peaked
at 130 million tonnes in 1996 and has been declining ever since (Figure 1c). The declines happened despite increased
industrial fishing efforts and despite developed countries expanding to fishing the waters of developing countries (Pauly and
Zeller 2016, updated).
Ocean dead zones, Figure 1d. Coastal dead zones which are mainly caused by fertilizer runoff and fossil-fuel use, are
killing large swaths of marine life. Dead zones with hypoxic, oxygen-depleted waters, are a significant stressor on marine
systems and identified locations have dramatically increased since the 1960s, with more than 600 systems affected by 2010
(Figure 1d, Diaz and Rosenberg 2008, updated).
Forest loss, Figure 1e. The world’s forests are crucial for conserving carbon, biodiversity, and freshwater. Between 1990
and 2015, total forest area decreased from 4,128 to 3,999 million ha, a net loss of 129 million ha which is approximately the
size of South Africa (Figure 1e). Forest loss has been greatest in developing tropical countries where forests are now
commonly converted to agriculture uses (FAO 2015).
Dwindling biodiversity, Figure 1f. The world’s biodiversity is vanishing at an alarming rate and populations of vertebrate
species are rapidly collapsing (World Wildlife Fund 2016). Collectively, global fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and
mammals declined by 58% between 1970 and 2012 (Figure 1f). Here, we display a diversity-weighted Living Planet Index
that has been adjusted for taxonomic and geographic bias by accounting for the estimated number of species within
biogeographical regions, and the relative species diversity within them. (McRae et al. 2017). Freshwater, marine, and terrestrial populations declined by 81%, 36%, and 35% respectively (McRae et al. 2017).
Climate change, Figure 1g, Figure 1h. Global fossil-fuel carbon dioxide emissions have increased sharply since 1960
(Figure 1g, Boden et al. 2017). Relative to the 1951-1980 average, global average annual surface temperature, in parallel to
CO2 emissions, has also rapidly risen as shown by 5-year mean temperature anomaly (Figure 1h, NASA’s Goddard Institute
for Space Studies (GISS) 2017). The 10 warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 1998. The most recent
year of data, 2016, ranks as the warmest on record. Temperature increases will likely cause a decline in the world’s major
food crops, an increase in the intensity of major storms, and a substantial sea level rise inundating major population centers.
Population growth, Figure 1i. Since 1992, the human population has increased by approximately 2 billion individuals, a
35% change (Figure 1i, FAOSTAT 2017). The world human population is unlikely to stop growing this century and there is
a high likelihood that the world population will grow from 7.2 billon people now to between 9.6 and 12.3 billon by 2100
(Gerland et al. 2014). Like the change in human population, the domestic ruminant population, which has its own set of
major environmental and climate impacts, has been increasing in recent decades to approximately 4 billion individuals on
Earth (Figure 1i, FAOSTAT 2017).
Note that the loss of soil productivity was listed as a concern in the 1992 scientists’ warning, but this variable was not
analyzed here due to a lack of global data on changes in soil productivity. For each variable listed below, we calculated
percentage change since 1992 using the values for 1992 and the most recent year available. When data were unavailable for
1992, we used linear interpolation to estimate the value there. These change results are in the caption for Figure 1. See
original data sources shown above for any statements on levels of uncertainty associated with the varibles in Figure 1. Some
sources describe this uncertainty and others do not.
References for figure 1
Figure 1a, Hegglin, M. I., D. W. Fahey, M. McFarland, S. A. Montzka, and E. R. Nash. 2015. Twenty questions and
answers about the ozone layer: 2014 Update: Scientific assessment of ozone depletion: 2014. World Meteorological
Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.
Figure 1b, AQUASTAT. 2017. AQUASTAT – FAO’s Information System on Water and Agriculture.
Figure 1c, Pauly, D., and D. Zeller. 2016. Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are
higher than reported and declining. Updated. Nature Communications 7:10244.
Figure 1d, Diaz, R. J., and R. Rosenberg. 2008. Spreading Dead Zones and Consequences for Marine Ecosystems.
Updated. Science 321:926–929.
Figure 1e, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. 2015. Global forest resources assessment
Figure 1f, World Wildlife Fund. 2016. Living planet report 2016: risk and resilience in a new era.
McRae, L., Deinet, S. and Freeman, R., 2017. The Diversity-Weighted Living Planet Index: Controlling for
Taxonomic Bias in a Global Biodiversity Indicator. PloS one, 12(1), p.e0169156.
Figure 1g, Boden, T. A., G. Marland, and R. J. Andres. 2017. Global, regional, and national fossil-fuel CO2
emissions, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. US Department of
Energy, Oak Ridge, Tenn., USA 2009. doi 10.3334/CDIAC 1.
Figure 1h, NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). 2017. Global Temperature.
Figure 1i, FAOSTAT. 2017. FAOSTAT Database on Agriculture. http://faostat.fao.org/.file://///acer/home/O-R/ripplew/Scientists%20warning%20to%20humanity/BioScience%20version%201/AQUASTAT.%202017.%20AQUASTAT%20-%20FAO’s%20Information%20System%20on%20Water%20and%20Agriculture.%20http:/www.fao.org/nr/aquastat/file://///acer/home/O-R/ripplew/Scientists%20warning%20to%20humanity/BioScience%20version%201/AQUASTAT.%202017.%20AQUASTAT%20-%20FAO’s%20Information%20System%20on%20Water%20and%20Agriculture.%20http:/www.fao.org/nr/aquastat/
World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity (1992)
UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS
World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity
Union of Concerned Scientists
This 1992 document was signed by 1,575 of the world’s most prominent scientists (including 99 of the 196 living Nobel laureates) and was sent to governmental leaders all over the world. The document asks people to take immediate action to stop the ever-increasing environmental degradation that threatens global life support systems on this planet. The appeal was coordinated by Dr. Henry Kendall, Nobel laureate (1990, Physics), and former Chairperson of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity” Introduction Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, 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. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about. The Environment The environment is suffering critical stress: The Atmosphere Stratospheric ozone depletion threatens us with enhanced ultra-violet radiation at the earth’s surface, which can be damaging or lethal to many life forms. Air pollution near ground level, and acid precipitation, are already causing widespread injury to humans, forests, and crops. Water Resources Heedless exploitation of depletable ground water supplies endangers food production and other essential human systems. Heavy demands on the world’s surface waters have resulted in serious shortages in some 80 countries, containing 40% of the world’s population. Pollution of rivers, lakes, and ground water further limits the supply. Oceans Destructive pressure on the oceans is severe, particularly in the coastal regions which produce most of the world’s food fish. The total marine catch is now at or above the estimated maximum sustainable yield. Some fisheries have already shown signs of collapse. Rivers carrying heavy burdens of eroded soil into the seas also carry industrial, municipal, agricultural, and livestock waste—some of it toxic. Soil Loss of soil productivity, which is causing extensive land abandonment, is a widespread byproduct of current practices in agriculture and animal husbandry. Since 1945, 11% of the earth’s vegetated surface has been degraded—an area larger than India and China combined—and per capita food production in many parts of the world is decreasing. Forests Tropical rain forests, as well as tropical and temperate dry forests, are being destroyed rapidly. At present rates, some critical forest types will be gone in a few years, and most of the tropical rain forest will be gone before the end of the next century. With them will go large numbers of plant and animal species.
Living Species The irreversible loss of species, which by 2100 may reach one third of all species now living, is especially serious. We are losing the potential they hold for providing medicinal and other benefits, and the contribution that genetic diversity of life forms gives to the robustness of the world’s biological systems and to the astonishing beauty of the earth itself. Much of this damage is irreversible on a scale of centuries or permanent. Other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation, may alter climate on a global scale. Predictions of global warming are still uncertain—with projected effects ranging from tolerable to very severe—but potential risks are very great.
Our massive tampering with the world’s interdependent web of life—coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change—could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand.
Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.
Population The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth’s limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair. Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. A World Bank estimate indicates that world population will not stabilize at less than 12.4 billion, while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today’s 5.4 billion. But, even at this moment, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.
No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.
Warning We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it, is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated. What We Must Do Five inextricably linked areas must be addressed simultaneously:
1. We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth’s systems we depend on.
We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustible energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water. Priority must be given to the development of energy sources matched to third world needs—small scale and relatively easy to implement.
We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.
2. We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively. We must give high priority to efficient use of energy, water, and other materials, including expansion of conservation and recycling.
3. We must stabilize population. This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.
4. We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.
5. We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.
The developed nations are the largest polluters in the world today. They must greatly reduce their overconsumption, if we are to reduce pressures on resources and the global environment. The developed nations have the obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations, because only the developed nations have the financial resources and the technical skills for these tasks.
Acting on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have but one lifeboat. No nation can escape from injury when global biological systems are damaged. No nation can escape from conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. In addition, environmental and economic instabilities will cause mass migrations with incalculable consequences for developed and undeveloped nations alike.
Developing nations must realize that environmental damage is one of the gravest threats they face, and that attempts to blunt it will be overwhelmed if their populations go unchecked. The greatest peril is to become trapped in spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic, and environmental collapse.
Success in this global endeavor will require a great reduction in violence and war. Resources now devoted to the preparation and conduct of war—amounting to over $1 trillion annually—will be badly needed in the new tasks and should be diverted to the new challenges.
A new ethic is required—a new attitude toward discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves and for the earth. We must recognize the earth’s limited capacity to provide for us. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes.
The scientists issuing this warning hope that our message will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the help of many.
We require the help of the world community of scientists—natural, social, economic, political; We require the help of the world’s business and industrial leaders; We require the help of the world’s religious leaders; and We require the help of the world’s peoples. We call on all to join us in this task.
- Ripple et al warning 2017
- Ripple et al 11-13-17 supplemental file S1