15,000 Scientists From 184 Countries Warn Humanity of Environmental Catastrophe

GR: This is the 25-year update of the warning scientists gave in 1992.

“More than 15,000 scientists have signed a chilling article titled “World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice,” urging global leaders to save the planet from environmental catastrophe.

“The plea, published Monday in the international journal BioScience, is likely the largest-ever formal support by scientists for a journal article with 15,372 total signatories, Motherboard noted. The scientists represent 184 countries and have a range of scientific backgrounds. Prominent signatories include Jane Goodall, E.O. Wilson and James Hansen.

“The “Second Notice”—an update to the original version published 25 years ago by the Union of Concerned Scientists and signed by 1,700 scientists then—underscores the lack of progress from the original document.

“The first notice started with this statement: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course.” It described trends such as the growing hole in the ozone layer, pollution and depletion of freshwater sources, overfishingdeforestation, plummeting wildlife populations, as well as unsustainable rises in greenhouse gas emissions, global temperatures and human population levels.

“Unfortunately, the authors of the current article said that humanity has failed to progress on most of the measures.

“They ominously warned, “time is running out.”

“Especially troubling is the current trajectory of potentially catastrophic climate change” from the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities, the paper stated.

“William J. Ripple, lead author of the current article and a distinguished professor of ecology at Oregon State University, told the Associated Press he was stunned by the level of support for the manuscript.

“I initially sent it out to 40 of my colleagues,” he explained. “After 24 hours there were 600 scientists who signed it. Within two days, there were 1,200. There were so many people signing that our website crashed a couple of times.”

“According to the AP, the researchers document a number of alarming trends from 1992 to 2016, such as a 28.9 percent reduction of vertebrate wildlife, a 62.1 percent increase in CO2 emissions, a 167.6 percent rise in global average annual temperature change and a 35.5 percent increase in the global population (about 2 billion people).” –Lorraine Chow (More: https://www.ecowatch.com/scientists-environmental-warning-2509347840.html.)

Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections

GR: Here’s a handy summary of global temperature, sea ice, and coral reef changes so far in 2017.

“With the first quarter of 2017 now past, the year is shaping up to be one of climate extremes: high temperatures, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.

“The year is shaping up to be one of #climate extremes: high temps, low sea ice, and coral bleaching.”

“Global surface temperatures continue to increase in-line with climate model predictions, and the world has now experienced an increased global temperature of about 0.8 degrees C (1.5 degrees F) since 1970. Temperatures for the first three months of the year were actually warmer than the 2016 average, and there is a reasonable chance that 2017 for a fourth consecutive year will be the warmest on record.

“Global sea ice extent is near historic lows in the Arctic and Antarctic, and Arctic sea ice volume has also been decreasing as it ages and thins, with less new ice to replace it. The Great Barrier Reef experienced an unprecedented second consecutive year of coral bleaching, the only major coral bleaching on record to have occurred other than in an El Niño year.

Temperature

“Global surface temperatures were surprisingly warm in the first quarter of 2017. Despite the end of the large 2015/2016 El Niño, temperatures remained high with January, February, and March each being the second warmest on record, after 2016.” –Zeke Hausfather (Continue reading: Worrisome first quarter of 2017 climate trends – Yale Climate Connections).

It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon

GR:  Here’s an article that I hope at least my friends and family read. If it doesn’t worry and motivate you, then you are a victim of “willful blindness” a cognitive condition that can be either conscious or subconscious. You can recover from the subconscious condition, but it’s usually after you’ve fallen in a hole and wonder “why didn’t I see this coming.” However, you can make a conscious effort to reassess your beliefs and act to avoid the hole. And I assume that this is what’s going to happen as demonstrations like the massive climate march that just filled Pennsylvania Avenue continue to grow.

Credit: Getty/Everlite/Leon Neal/Photo Montage by Salon

“While apocalyptic beliefs about the end of the world have, historically, been the subject of religious speculation, they are increasingly common among some of the leading scientists today. This is a worrisome fact, given that science is based not on faith and private revelation, but on observation and empirical evidence.

“Perhaps the most prominent figure with an anxious outlook on humanity’s future is Stephen Hawking. Last year, he wrote the following in a Guardian article:

Now, more than at any time in our history, our species needs to work together. We face awesome environmental challenges: climate change, food production, overpopulation, the decimation of other species, epidemic disease, acidification of the oceans. Together, they are a reminder that we are at the most dangerous moment in the development of humanity. We now have the technology to destroy the planet on which we live, but have not yet developed the ability to escape it.

“There is not a single point here that is inaccurate or hyperbolic. For example, consider that the hottest 17 years on record have all occurred since 2000, with a single exception (namely, 1998 [hottest on record to that point]), and with 2016 being the hottest ever. Although 2017 probably won’t break last year’s record, the UK’s Met Office projects that it “will still rank among the hottest years on record.” Studies also emphasize that there is a rapidly closing window for meaningful action on climate change. As the authors of one peer-reviewed paper put it [PDF paper published in Nature, Climate Change]:

The next few decades offer a brief window of opportunity to minimize large-scale and potentially catastrophic climate change that will extend longer than the entire history of human civilization thus far. Policy decisions made during this window are likely to result in changes to Earth’s climate system measured in millennia rather than human lifespans, with associated socioeconomic and ecological impacts that will exacerbate the risks and damages to society and ecosystems that are projected for the twenty-first century and propagate into the future for many thousands of years.

“Furthermore, studies suggest that civilization will have to produce more food in the next 50 years than in all of human history, which stretches back some 200,000 years into the Pleistocene epoch. This is partly due to the ongoing problem of overpopulation, where Pew projects approximately 9.3 billion people living on spaceship Earth by 2050. According to the 2016 Living Planet Report, humanity needs 1.6 Earths to sustain our current rate of (over)consumption — in other words, unless something significant changes with respect to anthropogenic resource depletion, nature will force life as we know it to end.

“Along these lines, scientists largely agree that human activity has pushed the biosphere into the sixth mass extinction event in the entire 4.5 billion year history of Earth. This appears to be the case even on the most optimistic assumptions about current rates of species extinctions, which may be occurring 10,000 times faster than the normal “background rate” of extinction. Other studies have found that, for example, the global population of wild vertebrates — that is, mammals, birds, reptiles, fish and amphibians — has declined by a staggering 58 percent between 1970 and 2012. The biosphere is wilting in real time, and our own foolish actions are to blame.” –Phil Torres (Continue: It’s the end of the world and we know it: Scientists in many disciplines see apocalypse, soon – Salon.com.)

Second year of widespread bleaching underway on the Great Barrier Reef

GR: Another excellent report from NOAA’s climate group. The news is bad. Here’s one effort to do more than just report on our destruction of Earth ecosystems. We need to do more. We need a political confederation of progressive and biological-conservation groups that understands how important it is to recognize the equality of all species. But how do you create an alliance when environmental ignorance is so prevalent and when even political progressives see nothing beyond the health, comfort, and equality of members of our species? Sad.

“On the Great Barrier Reef and throughout the rest of the world, corals live in a symbiotic relationship with algae. Corals give algae shelter, and the photosynthetic algae give corals food (not to mention their bright colors). But when ocean waters get too hot for too long a time, corals expel their algae, turning bony white in the process—coral bleaching. Corals can survive without algae for only so long.

Thermal stress around the Great Barrier reef from January-March 2017. NOAA Climate.gov image by Dan Pisut, based on NOAA Coral Reef Watch maps.

“In May 2016, Climate.gov wrote about a record-breaking coral-bleaching event on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and discussed the low likelihood of significant long-term recovery. This was published in the cover paper in Nature in March 2017, just as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority announced continued bad news: widespread coral bleaching was occurring for the second consecutive year.

“The animation above shows accumulated weeks of heat stress, known as Degree Heating Weeks, from early January through late March 2017 off the northeastern coast of Australia. Values larger than 4 (gold to orange) indicate that widespread coral bleaching is likely. Values above 8 (salmon-orange to dark purple) indicate that significant bleaching and death is possible. Mapped reef locations are shown with black outlines.

“At the beginning of 2017, no heat stress is apparent, but this situation soon changes. Degree heating weeks begin to accumulate soon after the start of the year. By the end of January, heat stress associated with likely bleaching is apparent. The situation only worsens in February, and by the end of that month, heat stress high enough to cause significant bleaching and coral death occurs over an expansive area. By the end of March, a substantial area off the coast of northeast Australia shows heat stress values of 8 or higher.

“On March 24, 2017, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority stated that in January, it started fielding coral-bleaching reports from park rangers and reef visitors for locations as far south as the waters north of Fraser island, the Marine Park Authority and James Cook University followed up the reports with spot checks, flyovers, and comprehensive aerial surveys.

“Because so much coral in the north died in 2016, it was difficult to see the 2017 bleaching there from the air, according to NOAA coral expert Mark Eakin. But according to the Marine Park Authority website, a total of 54 in-water spot surveys of six reefs between Cairns and Townsville in late February revealed signs of thermal stress at all six reefs. As of late March, coral bleaching appeared most severe in the central region of the Great Barrier Reef. Toward the south, bleaching appeared more moderate.” –Michon Scott (Continue: Second year of widespread bleaching underway on the Great Barrier Reef | NOAA Climate.gov.)