The #1 reason Donald Trump’s presidency is such a tragedy isn’t because of North Korea, trade deals, or even the stupid Wall. It’s not that he’s letting clean energy go as a U.S. priority. It’s that he’s actively working against mitigating climate change. It’s that he is actively appointing heads of departments who will do the same, including Scott Pruitt as the head of the EPA. The Trump presidency has verbally removed the United States from the Paris climate agreement, and the U.S. is now the only country on Earth to not be a part of the Paris Accord. (Syria just joined it.)
That makes this new appeal and warning from scientists all the more terrible. I’m not going to sugar-coat this at all. This is what keeps me up at night. It should keep you up at night too. They tell us we are on a “failing trajectory” for all life on earth.
In late 1992, 1,700 scientists from around the world issued a dire “warning to humanity.” They said humans had pushed Earth’s ecosystems to their breaking point and were well on the way to ruining the planet. The letter listed environmental impacts like they were biblical plagues — stratospheric ozone depletion, air and water pollution, the collapse of fisheries and loss of soil productivity, deforestation, species loss and catastrophic global climate change caused by the burning of fossil fuels.
“If not checked,” wrote the scientists, led by particle physicist and Union of Concerned Scientists co-founder Henry Kendall, “many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know.”
But things were only going to get worse.
To mark the letter’s 25th anniversary, researchers have issued a bracing follow-up. In a communique published Monday in the journal BioScience, more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries assess the world’s latest responses to various environmental threats. Once again, they find us sorely wanting.
“Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” they write.
This letter, spearheaded by Oregon State University ecologist William Ripple, serves as a “second notice,” the authors say: “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory.” . . . .
Access to fresh water has declined, as has the amount of forestland and the number of wild-caught fish (a marker of the health of global fisheries). The number of ocean dead zones has increased. The human population grew by a whopping 2 billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by nearly 30 percent.”
We have very little time left to change the course of our own extinction. Everyone’s support for people and groups who are doing the right thing and trying to stave off climate change and environmental degradation of all types, is needed now.