In a timely reminder of how concrete scientific data can be questioned, overturned, ignored and manipulated, 15,000 scientists just composed an open letter to humanity as an update to the consensus reached at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992. As I point out in City Living, Nature Calling, it was 25 years ago now that scientists agreed that the damage being done to the earth by industrialised humanity had to be reversed before it became catastrophic and irreversible. I’m glad that a very comprehensive and influential list of scientists have now increased the urgency of that warning – although of course it is terrifying that they have to do so, with the evidence mounting daily about the danger we and all life on earth are now in.
Here are the opening sentences of the new letter, dated the 14th of November – just days after the first ever ecomythic documentary was launched upon the world, which looks into why we haven’t changed and how we still can: ‘A new, dire “warning to humanity” about the dangers to all of us has been written by 15,000 scientists from around the world. The message updates an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists that was backed by 1,700 signatures 25 years ago. But the experts say the picture is far, far worse than it was in 1992, and that almost all of the problems identified then have simply been exacerbated. Mankind is still facing the existential threat of runaway consumption of limited resources by a rapidly growing population, they warn. And “scientists, media influencers and lay citizens” aren’t doing enough to fight against it, according to the letter.’
Many people will today say that things are changing too quickly; our computing hardware and software has to be updated constantly, everything solid seems to be made to break, forcing overconsumption in the name of profit, politic systems are in turmoil … the list goes on. But the stuff we should be changing fast, like the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources, getting rid out of disposable packaging like plastic water bottles (amongst millions of other examples), replacing toxic agricultural practices (overdosing on pesticides and fertilisers) with more sustainable practices and so on, are not being changed fast enough at all.
We need to shift the way we do things, to speed up the stuff that should be changing and replace the disposable mentality with a commitment to hard wearing, long lasting products and a more eco-friendly scale. And we need to do it now, for life on earth in the present and in the future.