In 1992, 1,500 scientists warned that unless something changes in the way humans treated the Earth and each other, there'd be big trouble.
Now, 25 years later, that number has been multiplied by ten, as over 15,000 scientists are warning in a Twitter campaign that we have to change if we want to save the Earth.
Oregon State University College of Forestry professor, William Ripple, started the #ScientistsWarningToHumanity campaign, when he realized that this was the 25th anniversary of that first warning in 1992. He and his graduate student, Christopher Wolf, looked at the concerns and issues of that time and compared them to data and trends that have grown over the last 25 years.
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What they found was disheartening, to say the least. While there was a positive change in the rapid decline of our ozone layer, Earth now suffers from more unsustainable marine fisheries, forest losses, climate changes, population increase issues, declines in the availability of freshwater, dead zones in our oceans, and dwindling biodiversity on a global level.
Ripple said that these trends are alarming, but also show that change can happen, as was the case with the decline in the depletion of the ozone layer.
Once he wrote the article of findings that was published in BioScience, he decided to resurrect the movement and see if he could get any collegial signatures. He was shocked when he saw 600 scientists had signed his petition in just one day.
Within two days, the campaign had garnered 1,200 signatures and as of October 23, 2017 had 15,364 signatures from 184 countries.
Ripple said his goal is to let people know how fragile the planet's state is in right now, and to let people know there is a collective voice of scientists who are concerned about our future. A big concern for him is overpopulation, specifically the consumerism that takes its toll on the environment to sustain the population.
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Scientists are also concerned about biodiversity, as Virginia Tech Science and Technology and Society professor Eileen Crist says that because the middle class is growing at a rapid rate, so too is the carbon footprint increasing as the middle class consumes appliances and cars, travels more and eats more meat. Crist says it's not about our population numbers, but what those numbers mean to the carbon footprint we leave.
She co-authored the paper and says we need to make significant changes to fix the probability of a mass extinction event. According to her, if we eradicate 50-75% of the species on this planet in this century - as is what's predicted if humankind doesn't minimize its consumption and population - we will not be able to turn back.
She believes if we all look at taking care of the Earth as we take care of our family, we have a chance to make an impact.