“This will lead to war over resources”
The strong scientific warning issued 25 years ago didn’t help. So more than 23,000 scientists have signed an updated version, called World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice.
“I think it should be called the final notice. I’m not sure we’ll get another chance”, says Stuart Scott, executive director of ScientistsWarning.org.
Our climate is in a state of emergency. The alarm is sounding and red lights are flashing all over the globe.
On 24 November, the Emergency Plan seminar was held in Stockholm, Sweden, and broadcast online to a worldwide audience. 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.
Anders Wijkman, honorary chairman of the Club of Rome, presented a detailed roadmap for a better future. Ingmar Rentzhog, the founder of WeDontHaveTime, gave a demonstration of the app that will allow millions of users to collectively pressure on world leaders and corporate CEOs to do the right thing. And the Swedish Climate Dashboard team demonstrated a tool to help governments break climate goals down into manageable units while at the same time keeping track of what corporations and NGOs are doing. And those are just a few of the many great ideas and initiatives presented at the seminar.
But 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.
Looking at world maps showing predictions of what lies ahead if we continue on this path is like watching a horror movie. As the planet continues to heat up, the areas affected by drought will expand rapidly.
At the end of this century, severe drought conditions are predicted in more than half of North and South America, as well as large areas of Africa and almost all of Central and Southern Europe.
“We will be challenged to grow food even for the existing population, never mind for ten or eleven billion people. And the areas that will still have adequate precipitation for growing food have thin soils, because they are currently boreal forests”, says Stuart Scott. “What this will lead to is war over resources. This isn’t my prediction. It is the prediction of the highly credentialed scientists who have studied this.”
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.”
Written by Markus Lutteman
Proofreading by Jane Davis
About We Don’t Have Time
We Don’t Have Time are currently building the world’s largest social network for climate action. Together we can solve the climate crisis.
But we are running out of time.