Published Monday, November 13, 2017 12:26PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 13, 2017 9:01PM EST
More than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries are warning that ongoing destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems is jeopardizing the future of humankind.
“To prevent widespread misery and catastrophic biodiversity loss, humanity must practice a more environmentally sustainable alternative to busianess as usual,” the Alliance of World Scientistssays.
The dire warning comes 25 years after the first such caution was signed by just 1,500 scientists from around the world.
“I think it’s important that it’s recognized that this is a follow-up after 25 years, and that the environmental changes that we were warned about 25 years ago are still occurring, that we’ve not done enough,” Karen Alofs, research associate at the University of Toronto’s department of ecology and evolutionary biology, told CTV News Channel’s Scott Laurie.
Alofs was one of the 15,000 scientists who signed the document. She said she has personally seen the impacts of climate change in her own research on Ontario’s lake fish communities.
“Fish species that are adapted to warm waters are starting to occur in lakes farther north that were previously too cold,” Alofs said in a video interview on Monday.
“The introduction of these species like smallmouth bass into lakes has had consequences that lead to the decline of local fish populations.”
The new warning, published Monday in the journal Bioscience, was also endorsed by several Canadian scientists and graduate or PhD students.
The article says that since 1992, when the first warning was issued, humankind has failed to address ongoing environmental destruction, with the exception of stabilizing the depletion of our ozone layer.
“We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats,” the authors wrote.
Alofs said she hopes the warning is taken more seriously this time.
“There is an urgency because we’re seeing impacts on human health and wellbeing that are related to these environmental changes.”
If nothing is done, Alofs said the world will see increases in temperature changes and extreme weather events – both of which have already begun.
“This summer in Canada we had forest fires, there’s evidence of melting permafrost, [and], a year or two ago, it was difficult in southern Ontario to go ice fishing because there wasn’t enough ice,” Alofs said.
“So we know the things to expect. The frequency of these problems is going to increase, and they’re going to become more severe.”
The warning is calling on top business, industrial, and religious leaders to help effect a change. It lists a number of steps that must be taken to preserve our environment. They include:
Halting the destruction of forests, grasslands and various species’ native habitats
Reducing food waste
Promoting a diet of mostly plant-based foods
Ensuring that people around the world have access to education and voluntary family-planning services
“Massively adopting” renewable energy sources