Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice

‘World Scientists’ (some scientists in the world) have issued a follow-up ‘warning to humanity twenty five years after the first warning was made.

Medium:  “This will lead to war over resources”

On 24 November, the Emergency Plan seminar was held in Stockholm, Sweden. The aim of the organisers — WeDontHaveTime, the Club of Rome and Global Utmaning, — was to present concrete ideas on how to rapidly reduce global emissions.

why the urgency? Why the desperate need for all these solutions?

The speaker who most clearly answered that question was Stuart Scott, executive director for ScientistsWarning.org and board member of the WeDontHaveTime foundation.

He started off by quoting a document written by the Union of Concerned Scientists in 1992.

“Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment. /…/ We the undersigned, senior members of the world’s scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required, if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.”

“My question is: Did we change?” Stuart Scott rhetorically asked the audience at the seminar. “Unfortunately, not much.”

So 25 years after the first warning was formulated, scientists have written a new one.

World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice, was signed by 15,364 scientists from 184 countries upon release. Another 8,000 have signed it since then.

The updated warning deals with ecological stressors: biodiversity loss, food systems, freshwater scarcity, marine life depletion, ocean pollution, forest destruction, air toxification, soil degradation, population and climate change.

“Many of these stressors interact, and they multiply one another”, says Stuart Scott.

But despite all the scientific evidence of how our lifestyle is destroying the planet, carbon emissions reached an all-time-high in 2018.

But there is still hope. If we choose to act. And if we do it now.

“I say: get angry. Get very angry. But not just angry. Do something. Take action. The time has come for civil disobedience”, he says. “The bottom line is we must all become active immediately to avert a catastrophe for us, our children and all of life on Earth.”

I don’t know what getting angry will achieve. I don’t know how many people will get angry about something that may play out over the next fifty years.

A problem with selling urgent climate change action is that people are used to experiencing weather changes all the time, especially those of us living in latitudes where significant seasonal changes are normal, and in southern New Zealand, where significant changes can occur on the same day. Small changes in overall temperatures and slight increases in storm intensity and adverse weather are difficult to perceive. The southerly blasting right now, or the wave of NW heat, is what we notice the most (actually yesterday and today have been very pleasant

I think there will be attempts in New Zealand this year to appear angry and to propose drastic action. there may even be civil disobedience.

But how this will impact on most people – whether they care or not let alone do anything – will have to be seen, if it happens at all.

I don’t want anger, I don’t want civil disobedience.

I want civil debate. And I want good arguments for actions.

And most of all I want a sensible, feasible plan from the Government, who should be leading the way on this.

Humans should do much better at looking after our planet and mitigating and minimising risks from our impacts.

But I haven’t seen anything yet that looks anything like being a convincing way to deal with things related to climate change and environmental issues.

Warning to climate change activists – you need to get your words and actions right focussed on what will bring people on board a campaign for significant change, and not abuse and shame and piss off people that need to be convinced.

Some scientists may be convinced that WeDon’tHaveTime, but they have to do a much better job at convincing most of ‘we’ that we have to make time to change the way we live.