Nov 24, 2009

When scientists warn... and let slide 15 years?

From the Statement of Union of Concerned Scientists (emphasis added):
    Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. Fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about …

    No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished …

    Much of this damage is irreversible on a scale of centuries or permanent. Other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation, may alter climate on a global scale. Predictions of global warming are still uncertain—with projected effects ranging from tolerable to very severe—but the potential risks are very great.
    Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.

    The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. Its ability to provide for growing numbers of people is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Current economic practices which damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair…

Did your eyes glaze over yet? Are you wondering where the "news" is in this post, or why I'm bringing it to your attention?

After all, these are all things we've heard countless times.

The point is that there is no "news" top be found here, no revelation of yet another way in which our assumptions were too optimistic and science has recently shown us reality's indifferent truth. In fact, this statement from the Union of Concerned Scientists dates to September 1994 (although some sources I found online say it goes as far back as November 18, 1992).