Twenty-five years ago nearly, 1,700 climate scientists signed the “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity,” a letter that would come to greatly alter the way we view climate discourse in our status quo. It echoed a few concerns, none of which would be considered surprising today, but in 1992 were taken as the beginnings of a movement with hopes of changing the way we treat our environment. It 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.” The groundbreaking document reached its 25th anniversary yesterday, and in its honor, 16,000 scientists from 184 different countries created a new letter, warning of similar dangers.
The letter comes after a divisive debate in the U.S. and in global governments alike. We’ve seen world leaders like Trump come out saying, “When will our country stop wasting money on global warming and so many other truly STUPID things and begin to focus on lower taxes?” Statements like these serve as buffers between movements of scientists empowered by statistics, and smaller groups of skeptics that believe weathering patterns are mere symptoms of an aging world. Alternative factors, including religion and media distrust, undeniably play into the beliefs of climate change skeptics, each of which leaders like Trump have played to in their platforms.
But, skepticism isn’t the only reason we haven’t seen enough action to combat climate change. Countries like China that are heavily manufacturing based will likely experience massive budget difficulties if trying to switch to green tech. For this reason, we’ve seen more industrial industries shy away from combatting climate issues, sheerly for economic concerns. The paper addresses this also, explaining that, “humanity is now being given a second notice.” The scientists explain the importance of addressing climate change, stating that the trends we’ve been facing for years have only gotten worse in the years that have followed. There have been incredible rises in overpopulation, increasing over 35% in the previous 25 years, greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels, deforestation, and agricultural consumption. They point out that extinction is occurring at a rapid rate and ecosystem restoration has declined significantly. All of these trends, as explored in much greater detail in the paper, lead to one overarching realization – if we don’t take steps to reduce climate change, we as citizens face extinction.
The paper makes a clear point of explaining that it does not expect to greatly sway the minds of world leaders. It, however, states that “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.” We have a moral and ethical obligation to our planet to begin efforts to reduce our footprint, and it’s important to recognize in many cases, particularly in countries like the U.S. with climate deniers in leadership positions, this importance is magnified. On a smaller scale, steps like diminishing our per capita consumption of fossil fuels, meat, and other resources are available to all people and help us to take steps in the direction of a climate-friendly footprint.
I urge anyone interested in climate science to read the paper referenced in this article. Click here to access it.