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15K Scientists Sign Open Letter to Humanity: 'Time Is Running Out'

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Scientists issue grave 'warning to humanity' 25 years on from landmark alert

Twenty-five years after a small group of scientists penned the first "warning to humanity" in 1992, a new letter has been created that says time is running out to save the planet.

In the journal BioScience, the scientists, led by United States ecologist Professor William Ripple, said: "Humanity is now being given a second notice. we are jeopardising 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". "Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges", this week's screed reads, "and alarmingly, a lot of them are getting far worse".

"It's an overwhelming response we didn't quite expect", said Newsome.

Thomas Newsome, a research fellow at Deakin University and The University of Sydney in Australia, says that this was possibly the biggest number of signatories to any published scientific paper. Newsome says that on their first callout day, four months ago, they attracted almost 600 signatories.

"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.

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

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The current trajectory of climate change, deforestation and agricultural production - particularly meat consumption - is especially troubling to scientists. Ripple and his team warn that if changes aren't made, there will be irreversible biodiversity loss and increases in natural disasters and human misery, the Independent reports.

Collectively the number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish in the world has fallen by 29%. But, by and large, humanity has done a disgusting job of making progress. Since 1992, the human population has ballooned, increasing by 35 percent, which amounts to another 2 billion people. Now, 25 years later, every single measure has gotten worse, bar the ozone layer.

"With a groundswell of organized grassroots efforts, dogged opposition can be overcome and political leaders compelled to do the right thing".

According to the writers, change is not an impossible task - the world population quickly reined in ozone-depleting substances, like the kinds that were commonly found in aerosol containers and foam manufacturing, after it was discovered that they were eating away at the atmosphere that protects the planet's surface from harmful radiation. In fact, key environmental threats that demanded urgent attention a quarter of a century ago are even worse now.

"Time is running out" to stop business as usual, as threats from rising greenhouse gases to biodiversity loss are pushing the biosphere to the brink.

The article was published on Monday in BioScience.

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