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.)

Time of Great Dying: Population Bomb Bursts, the End of Old-Growth Forests, and the Great Awakening

GR: Like an empty deck chair bumping in the wind, I’ve repeated this warning over and over. I’ve tried to find new ways to phrase it, new associations to tie it to, and more reasons that we must search for a solution. I’ve tried to stir anger at inequities, greed, and the corruption of public servants. Great writers, speakers, and leaders have tried as well. And yet the river carrying our little canoe continues on toward the growing rumble of a great falls. The rumble is beyond the blaring horns and sussurating tires on pavement that surrounds us, but if you listen for the calls of birds and crickets you may hear it in the empty spaces they no longer fill.

In the article below, Dr. Glen Barry mixes resignation and hope and suggests that we can still stop before the falls–we just need to “believe in a better world and make it so.”

An aerial view of housing development, Photo by IDuke, Wikimedia | CC BY-SA 2.5

“The living biosphere, is infested with humans. Not just any humans, but the type that grow fat and reproduce exponentially by liquidating natural ecosystems. The population bomb has burst and we are seeing daily the predicted consequences of collapse and death in the climate, water, oceans, and on the land. Having spent much of my life working to protect Earth’s last naturally evolved primary forests from logging for inequitable over-consumption, I am today ready to declare defeat. Preserving Earth’s last large old-growth forests is a lost cause as there are simply too many people. This Time of Great Dying is unlikely to end well unless a global ecology ethic – including a sense of ENOUGHNESS, just population reductions, ending fossil fuels, and massive ecological restoration – is widely embraced with all haste in an unprecedented and overdue Great Awakening.

Over-Populated, Inequitable Over-Consumption

“In 90 years – a blink of an eye in ecological and geological time – the human population has gone from two billion to over seven billion. Another one billion people are added every 12-15 years, such exponential growth in human population can only end in collapse. Of these, a billion extravagantly over-consume (including a few hundred individuals who have amassed half of Earth’s wealth) as another billion live in abject poverty on less than $1.50 a day.

“Concurrently capitalism has manufactured all types of artificial needs for consumption to which the vast majority aspire, and which can never be universalized at current population densities. Thus globally devastating inequity is assured. Each of these manufactured desires is fulfilled through apocalyptic polluting of the atmosphere and liquidating of natural ecosystems that have evolved over eons and make Earth habitable.

“Over-populated, inequitable over-consumption literally dismembers Gaia – the living Earth – to gorge upon her ill-gotten limbs.

“The idea that we can just keep growing forever on a finite planet is totally imbecilic…”          – Paul Ehrlich, Author of The Population Bomb

“As long anticipated, the population bomb has burst, and we are witnessing the impact upon the natural world. The result of such democratic consumption has been our current Time of Great Dying – an epic cataclysm of death and destruction rained down by humanity upon all non-human life and their assemblages into natural wildlife populations, plant communities, ecosystems, and landscapes. Humans, after all, are animals too. It is not normal for populations of an organism to grow so rapidly, or for an organism to so quickly destroy its own habitat. When this does occur in nature, the result is always mass death and system collapse.

“Everywhere a trained eye looks, one can see the tawdry, traumatized remains of much diminished organic biological life upon an immense ecocidal battlefield. Oceans are plagued by overfishing and dead-zones, the climate is failing before our very eyes, wetlands and soils are much diminished, natural sources of water are increasingly scarce, wildlife has been decimated in a reign of terror, and natural terrestrial ecosystems have virtually disappeared. And the murder of remnant bits of nature that still exist continues unabated.

“Over the past century throughout much of the world naturally evolved millions of year old old-growth forests have in short order simply been mowed to be replaced by farms, homes, and strip malls for the ever burgeoning bourgeois population of over-consumers. We poorly measure human advancement by the speed whereby this growth machine dismembers our ecological habitat.” –Glen Barry (Time of Great Dying: Population Bomb Bursts, the End of Old-Growth Forests, and the Great Awakening | MAHB.)

Here’s an interesting post about ending our population growth.

Death by 1,000 Cuts: Why the Forest Carbon Sink Is Disappearing

GR:  While we’re on the subject, here’s more evidence that deforestation is not stopping anytime soon. The research reported below found that 69% of deforestation came from small-scale projects.

“The clear-cutting of giant swathes from the globe’s tropical forests has long been understood to be a major force behind global warming, but new research finds that smaller-scale forest loss—from minor logging and fires—is an even more powerful driver of climate change.

“On Thursday, scientists at the Woods Hole Research Center and Boston University published a study in the journal Science that says the planet’s tropical forests are releasing more carbon dioxide than they can store, mostly due to “fine scale” degradation and disturbance that previous studies haven’t captured.

“The finding means tropical forests may not act as carbon “sinks” unless both deforestation writ large and this more subtle degradation is stopped or slowed.

“The researchers looked at tropical forests across Asia, Africa and Latin America using a trio of tools—remote sensing, field observations and satellite imagery—that gave them a more comprehensive and detailed picture over a period of eleven years, from 2003 to 2014.

“This approach allowed them to measure not just large-scale deforestation, largely from agriculture, but smaller-scale degradation and disturbances that have, until now, been especially difficult to gauge.

“Collectively, these fine-scale losses have been very difficult to quantify,” said Wayne Walker, an associate scientist at Woods Hole and one of the report’s authors. “While they don’t seem like much in any given place, when you add them up across an areas as big as the tropics, they can be huge.” –Georgina Gustin (Death by 1,000 Cuts: Why the Forest Carbon Sink Is Disappearing | InsideClimate News).

Degraded Tropical Forests Now Release More Carbon Than They Store

GR: Brazil and other tropical nations are still allowing companies to cut and burn their forests for wood, pasture, and cropland. Deforestation is also occurring outside the tropics. The U. S. Forest Service, for instance, still permits forest clear cutting a century after the U. S. Forest Service was created to prevent clear cutting. And of course, the “wake-up call” sounded by the research is late and is unlikely to be heeded. The lungs of the Earth are shriveling up and it is the short-sighted nature of humans to permit this in return for a share of the profits (more on this story here: Washington PostReutersThe GuardianPBS NewsHour).

Forest thinning in Bolivia. Wayne Walker

“Tropical forests may no longer be acting as carbon sinks and could be releasing more carbon than they store, according to troubling new research.

“A study published Thursday in the journal Science finds that forests across Asia, Latin America and Africa release 425 metric tons of carbon per year, which is equal to nearly one-tenth of the U.S.’ annual carbon footprint.

“Researchers found nearly 70 percent of this loss is caused by small-scale degradation, the result of selective logging, drought and wildfire. All is not lost for forests, however. Researchers say that policies to curb deforestation, reduce degradation and restore land could turn forests back into carbon sinks.

“These findings provide the world with a wakeup call on forests,” the study’s lead author, Alessandro Baccini, a scientist with the U.S.-based Woods Hole Research Center, said in a statement.

“If we’re to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels, we need to drastically reduce emissions and greatly increase forests’ ability to absorb and store carbon.” –Climate Nexus (Degraded Tropical Forests Now Release More Carbon Than They Store, New Study Finds.)