Image: NASA

More than 15,000 scientists from 184 nations have penned an open letter to humanity, politely asking their fellow bipedal primates to maybe stop destroying the planet, if that’s chill. What a curious thought.

“World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice” is, as its name would suggest, a follow up to a similar notice issued in 1992. Scientists have apparently been concerned about the wholesale destruction of Earth’s biosphere for a little while now! The first notice made the dour observation that human civilization and the natural world were on a “collision course.” We were depleting the oceans of fish, bulldozing rainforests, releasing climate-warming carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and overall, “massive[ly] tampering with the world’s interdependent web of life.”

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Regrettably, it seems that we are still doing these things.

“Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse,” the scientists, who apparently think it would be nice for their grandchildren to have a breathable atmosphere, remark.

“Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out,” the letter’s authors, clearly more alarmed than humanity as a whole, continue.

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“Humanity is now being given a second notice.”

The scientists’ warnings have evolved with the times. While the 1992 letter focused on stratospheric ozone depletion, over-consumption of natural resources, and unchecked population growth, the 2017 revision places more emphasis on “the current trend of potentially catastrophic climate change,” and the fact that we are now in the early stages of a sixth mass extinction event “wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.”

Here are just a few examples of how the planet has changed since we were first alerted to our bullshit in 1992:

  • Per capita freshwater resources have declined by 25 percent
  • The number of oceanic dead zones has increased by 75 percent
  • Nearly 300 million acres of global forest cover have been lost
  • The total number of wild vertebrates on Earth has declined 30 percent
  • Emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide have grown from just over 20 billion tons per year to nearly 40 billion

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Bummer!

It’s not all bad, though. The scientists note that the rate at which we are destroying forests is declining. In some parts of the world. Also, the renewable energy sector is booming. And hey, we’ve done a pretty good job not making the ozone hole any bigger since the ‘90s. In fact, since the implementation of the Montreal Protocol banning chlorofluorocarbons, the hole actually seems to be repairing itself. Nice work on that one, humans.

To avoid ecological apocalypse, the authors say we must insist our governments take action. A “groundswell of organized grassroots efforts” is necessary to convince world leaders to preserve and restore wild lands, reduce economic inequality, and promote green energy. Reasonable, though I can’t imagine why they don’t think our leaders are already on this shit.

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Individually, we can all help save the planet by having fewer kids, eating fewer burgers, and trying not to be such a bunch of wasteful jabronis.

You can read notice #2 in its entirety here. Or you can wait for the third notice, which is expected to arrive shortly before nuclear winter takes hold.