Twenty-five years after global scientists issued a "warning to humanity" about dangers to the environment, a new update released Monday says most of the planet's problems are getting "far worse".
"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".
Entitled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice", the letter recalls a previous warning made by world scientists in 1992 that humans "were on a collision course with the natural world".
"We are jeopardising 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 said.
They said the reduction in ozone-depleting chemicals and an increase in energy generated from renewable sources were a positive step. There has been a rapid decline in fertility rates in some regions, which can be attributed to investments in education for women, they added.
This could include more nature and marine reserves, tougher laws to stamp out poaching and trade in wildlife, better family planning and educational programmes, more vegetarianism and less food waste, and massively adopting renewable energy and other "green" technologies.
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"Some people might be tempted to dismiss this evidence and think we are just being alarmist", said William Ripple, distinguished professor in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University, and lead author of the new warning. "Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences".
By 2030, up to 170 million hectares of forest - equivalent to the combined size of Germany, France, Spain and Portugal - may be lost, experts from WWF have previously warned.
Prof Ripple said: "Those who signed this second warning aren't just raising a false alarm". "They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path", Dr Ripple said.
Almost 300 million acres of forest have been lost, mostly to make way for agricultural land. The human population grew by a whopping two billion, while the populations of all other mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by almost 30 per cent.
'This prescription was well articulated by the world's leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning.
"Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, majority are getting far worse", they write.
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