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120 Indians also signatory to scientists’ warning to humanity

The implications of humans being responsible for environmental degradation are easy to see.

The implications of humans being responsible for environmental degradation are easy to see.  

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Not mending currently unsustainable ways of living could augur “widespread misery” and “catastrophic biodiversity loss.”

More than 120 Indians are among the 15,364 scientists from 184 countries to endorse the second warning the world's scientists have issued to humanity: not mending currently unsustainable ways of living could augur “widespread misery” and “catastrophic biodiversity loss”.

The first warning, issued in 1992 and signed by 1,575 scientists, urged governments to take immediate action to prevent environmental degradation. Following up on nine environmental issues identified by these scientists, a team led by scientist William Ripple (Oregon State University, U.S.A.) compiled current data to see how these issues fare now.

A dip

Their findings, published three days ago in Bioscience (a journal communicating interdisciplinary research), show declines in freshwater availability and global marine fisheries catch. Biodiversity is disappearing at an alarming pace: between 1970 and 2012, the world's vertebrates have declined by 58%. Forest loss has been tabled at 129 million hectares between 1990 and 2015, and both human and livestock populations have increased.

However, there is also good news: ozone depletors in the atmosphere (such as chlorofluorocabons) have declined, proving that change is possible, write the authors. Their recommendations to “transition to sustainability” include halting conversion of natural habitats such as forests and grasslands, reducing food waste through education and better infrastructure, promoting new green technologies and revising economies to reduce wealth inequalities.

In a country like India, there is a need for both immediate and long-term solutions, says author William Lawrence, professor at the James Cook University, Australia. “In the short term, it’s critical to limit further habitat loss and the expansion of new roads, mines, and mega projects into the last wild places, and to enlist the help and engagement of local communities wherever possible,” he wrote in an email to The Hindu.

Indian scientists – from institutes including the Delhi University, Wildlife Institute of India, Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Nature Research, IIT, IISER – are among the signatories to the paper.

“Societies need to take into account evidence-based inputs from the scientific community,” says Rajesh Gopakumar, director of International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bengaluru and a signatory to the paper. “As a scientist, I feel that the letter speaks about issues that are critical to address, especially in a developing country like India.”

This is the first time that so many scientists are signatory to an article.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 3:40:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/120-indians-also-signatory-to-scientists-warning-to-humanity/article20492536.ece

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