A self-proclaimed “scientists’ consensus” on “Maintaining Humanity’s Life Support Systems in the 21st Century” has been released.
Earth is rapidly approaching a tipping point. Human impacts are causing alarming levels of harm
to our planet. As scientists who study the interaction of people with the rest of the biosphere
using a wide range of approaches, we agree that the evidence that humans are damaging their
ecological life-support systems is overwhelming.
Science unequivocally demonstrates the human impacts of key concern:
• Climate disruption—more, faster climate change than since humans first became a species.
• Extinctions—not since the dinosaurs went extinct have so many species and populations died out so fast, both
on land and in the oceans.
• Wholesale loss of diverse ecosystems—we have plowed, paved, or otherwise transformed more than 40% of Earth’s ice-free land, and no place on land or in the sea is free of our direct or indirect influences.
• Pollution—environmental contaminants in the air, water and land are at record levels and increasing, seriously
harming people and wildlife in unforeseen ways.
• Human population growth and consumption patterns—seven billion people alive today will likely grow to 9.5 billion by 2050, and the pressures of heavy material consumption among the middle class and wealthy may well intensify.
By the time today’s children reach middle age, it is extremely likely that Earth’s life-support
systems, critical for human prosperity and existence, will be irretrievably damaged by the
magnitude, global extent, and combination of these human-caused environmental stressors,
unless we take concrete, immediate actions to ensure a sustainable, high-quality future.
A peculiar grab-bag of 500 signatories are appended. I recognized only a few: Jim Hansen, Karl Wunsch, David Karoly, Peter Gleick, Terry Root. (Wunsch rather surprised me.)
I note that the text of the PDF is largely unpastable; most of the text for soem reason comes out of my copy buffer like this:
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It is something of a wonder how influential people still fail to understand the nature of the internet.
Also I think there's more than a little chutzpah in calling this a "consensus" since there's no sign of a consensus process comparable to IPCC here.
Still, it's worth a look. I for one find most of the points themselves unobjectionable, except for the choice of the year 2050 as some sort of meaningful threshhold of decline, which seems a potentially risky bet.
Also, the suggestion that we plan fifty years out seems to me shortsighted if anything. Our current behaviors will have impacts much further than that into the future.