Environmental Impact on a Crash Course
The 1992 letter warned of several inevitable results from the toll human activities was taking on the environment. Scientists warned of stratospheric ozone depletion. The group also named air pollution, ultraviolet radiation, and acid rain as consequences.
The scientists' believed the world's water resources would become so depleted they would affect agriculture and human health. They stressed that groundwater supplies were depletable and conservation was incredibly necessary.
Toxic waste leaking into the ocean and a strain on its' resources were another concern. Fisheries were reaching their maximum. Some had collapsed already, and the rivers and oceans were unable to handle the strain of overfishing for long periods.
Farmers and crop producers began abandoning the overworked land. Soil productivity was actively waning. The land suffered so much use that it became a dead zone, unable to sustain crops. The scientists predicted rainforests and other ecosystems would disappear completely by the end of this century. With them, many plants and animal species will be lost irreparably. The group also predicted by the end of 2100, one-third of all species now living may become extinct.
The last concern named by the scientists was a growing population. The Earth would not be able to support such an enormous population of destructive humans. Basically, the environmental impact of the population alone would overwhelm conservation efforts.
The Five SolutionsThe 1,700 scientists then gave the five solutions that would turn the tide on the negative environmental impact. These were:
- Bringing environmentally damaging activities under control.
- Managing resources more effectively.
- Stabilizing the population.
- Reduce and eliminate poverty.
- Ensuring sexual equality and women's control over reproductive choices.
Back in 1992, this open letter created a lot of waves. In 2017, scientists published a follow-up letter. 25 years later, 15,000 scientists from 184 countries again assessed environmental impact. The results? Not good.
Only one of the mentioned issues has seen any progress. The others are in a far worse position. Scientists have published the follow-up to make humanity aware that they are on a failing course. The stakes of survival on our planet are high.
A Second Notice
The second letter was led by William Ripple this time. Ripple is an Oregon State University ecologist and published the letter as a second notice to humanity. The letter was published in BioScience journal and analyzed progress in the last 25 years. When the staggering number of scientists assessed what had transpired in the last 25 years, they were not impressed.
“Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” they wrote.
Global climate change is the top concern in the letter. Global average temperatures have risen by more than half a degree Celsius. Yearly carbon dioxide emissions have increased 62%.
Access to fresh water has also declined. Forestland has also declined, as have wild-caught fishes. The human population has increased by 2 billion at the expense of nearly every over life form on earth. Amphibians, mammals, reptiles, and fish have all declined by nearly 30%.
However, there is a spot of good news. The hole in the Earth's ozone layer is now at the smallest size recorded since 1988. A previous concern of scientists in 1992, this is one of the only markers of progress on the list.
As scientists did in 1992, the 15,000 scientists decided on 13 tactics for improving the environmental impact problem. Unfortunately, these will probably go as well as the first 5 tactics did. However, we can always hope that the second notice will serve as an important wake-up call. With diligence and a commitment to improving life on Earth, perhaps there will be no need for a third and final warning.