Over 15,000 scientists just issued a notice about how the future of the planet is at risk, urging people to be more concerned about the climate. This warning comes after twenty-five years after the first warning was issued. The second warning was signed by scientists from over 184 countries. Called the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, it is published in the journal BioScience.
A Lot Changed in the Last Two Decades
The initial version of this warning was issued in 1992 by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Back then only 1,700 signatures were gathered in the document. Since then, the condition of the planet has worsened. All the major threats to the environment have worsened over time.
The major impact is the massive increase in population. Since then, 35% of the population has increased. Increased population has also led to the increased carbon footprint. The population is a major issue in less developed regions of the world. Birth control is a major issue in African countries, as well as underdeveloped parts of India and related regions. The number of people increased by two billion in the previous two and a half decades and the number is climbing.
Even though birth rate and fertility rates have dropped in some developed parts of the world, its effect is negligible.
Cascading Effect of Increased Population
Increased population means increased consumption of natural resources. More and more housing is being constructed in places which were either forests or low lying wetlands. To feed the larger number of people, forests are also being cleared for agriculture. This is also threatening the species who had their homes in the forest. Lack of natural resources for other species is also leading to their extinction.
Increased population also means increased use of fossil fuels, consumption of freshwater and increased pollution. Over the last few years, carbon emissions have been climbing with no sign of stagnancy or reduction.
“Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends,” said the letter.
“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,” it added.
What happened in the last 25 years
Here is a list of the major threats that the environment has experienced over the last 25 years and is still experiencing.
- The amount of fresh water available per head of population worldwide has reduced by 26%
- The number of ocean “dead zones” – places where little can live because of pollution and oxygen starvation – has increased by 75%
- Nearly 300 million acres of forest have been lost, mostly to make way for agricultural land
- Global carbon emissions and average temperatures have shown continued significant increases
- Human population has risen by 35%
- The number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish in the world has collectively fallen by 29%.
Positive Change is Still Possible
Political pacts, such as the Paris Climate Change Agreement is considered as a step taken too late. Also, the pact does not enforce governments to follow certain rules – however, it does provide some guidelines. But it is unwise to expect governments to put climate first.
The biggest evidence that positive change is possible is the healing of ozone layers. By banning the use of chemicals in refrigerants that harm the ozone layer, almost all of the holes in the ozone layer has vanished over time.
Climate change cannot be reversed so easily, but then again, through awareness and controlled consumption, the dire condition of dire condition of the environment can be made better.
What you can do
Reduce, reuse, recycle still remains the mantra for saving the planet. If you are worried about the future of the planet, and you should be, then here are a list of things that you can do on a daily basis to make sure your carbon footprint remains minimal.
- Keep a houseplant: At your home or at your office, make sure you keep a plant. Houseplants do not need much care and can survive indoors with little light and infrequent watering. Plants not only convert carbon-dioxide to oxygen, but they can also remove some toxic chemicals. Larger trees also trap particulate matter in their leaves, thereby cutting down on air pollution. Also, large trees can be home to birds and smaller animals.
- Overhaul indoor lighting: During daytime, make sure you use as much natural light as possible. Keep doors and windows open as much as possible to let in natural light. This will cut down a lot on electricity bills, and hence carbon emissions. Switching from fluorescent lamps to LEDs also help cut down lighting bills by almost 40%.
- Invest in renewable energy: Getting your home off the grid may seem expensive at the moment, but eventually, it will pay for itself. Solar panels are now available and battery technology has improved enough to make even medium to large home run on electricity generated from solar energy. Products such as Tesla’s roof tiles make these even more convenient.
- Use public transport: Using public transport not only reduces congestion but also reduces carbon emission per individual. Also, if you are looking for buying cars, buying an electric car, or a hybrid, if possible.