Scientists issue dire warning about future

Professor Scott Armbruster

Professor Scott Armbruster: “I am not as concerned about the fate of the human species as are some signatories – humans are incredibly ingenious and adaptable – but I am worried about the fate of almost every other species on the planet.”

Five Portsmouth scientists, including a leading ecologist, have added their names to the 20,000 scientists worldwide warning of catastrophe for humankind if we don’t change our behavior.

Professor Scott Armbruster, in the University of Portsmouth’s School of Biological Sciences, is one of the signatories of a scientific letter published in BioScience), which is now one of the most discussed scientific works ever.

Marine scientist Professor Alex Ford and biology colleague Dr Rocio Perez-Barrales have also signed the letter, adding their weight to the call to take heed. Two further Portsmouth scientists, Dr Joanne Preston and Research Ethicist Dr Simon Kolstoe have also signed as ‘endorsers’.

The paper gives humans a dire warning about the future of our planet and predicts catastrophe for humanity.

The article is an update to an original warning letter sent by 1,700 scientists from the Union of Concerned Scientists 25 years ago. It said that the world had changed dramatically since the original warning had been issued – almost entirely for the worse.

According to the new paper, the planet’s a rapidly growing human population, in combination with the limited planetary resources, poses an existential threat to all species, including humankind, and scientists, policy-makers and citizens weren’t doing enough to fight against it.

If the world doesn’t act soon, there will be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery, the scientists say.

Professor Armbruster said:  “I signed this letter with great conviction, both as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists and as a biologist who conducts research on tropical biodiversity.  The letter resonated strongly with me because I have personally seen tremendous deterioration of the tropical ecosystems in which I have worked in Africa and South America over the 25 years since the first warning letter was issued.

“I fear the state of nature in the tropics will deteriorate much more before it begins to stabilise, unless we take drastic steps immediately.

I am not as concerned about the fate of the human species as are some signatories – humans are incredibly ingenious and adaptable – but I am worried about the fate of almost every other species on the planet.”

His colleague, Dr Kolstoe, said: “Good science gives us knowledge about the world – it is the responsibility of society and politicians to then do something with that knowledge. We must not let the difficult question of what to do hide the fact that something must be done, and soon.”

The lead author of the warning letter and new response paper, ecology Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: “Our scientists’ warning to humanity has clearly struck a chord with both the global scientific community and the public.”

The publishers of the letter now say that the letter is the sixth most-discussed piece of research since Altmetric records, which track publications’ impact, began. It has prompted speeches in the Israeli Knesset and Canada’s BC Legislature.

 

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