Last November, thousands of scientists issued a shocking yet familiar statement to the masses: our planet is doomed. In the scientific journal Bioscience, over 15 thousand scientists claimed that humans our “jeopardizing our future,” and that our way of life must be shifted almost immediately to prevent the death of the Earth. Although this radical declaration comes as a surprise to many people around the world, who surely did not expect such harsh criticism of their lifestyles, it actually echoes a similar assertion made exactly 25 years before. In 1992, nearly two-thousand scientists warned that our planet had just one or two decades left until it would be made inhabitable. While it is evident that this claim never actually became true, the eerily similar statement suggests that in the years since, little progress has been made towards saving our planet.
The message of the scientists comes with evidence. Since 1992, the Earth’s population has increased by 34 percent, or about two billion people. The usage of environmentally harmful fossil fuels has increased by almost 60 percent in the last 25 years as well, according to the 2013 World Energy Report. The use of this energy source has been directly linked to increased global warming levels by organizations such as NASA, the Union of Concerned Scientists (USCUSA), and even Exxon, a US gasoline company. Yet, not all aspects of our planet have gone downhill over time. World hunger has decreased by nearly 40 percent across the planet, according to 2015 UN Data, and worldwide access to drinkable water has increased by almost 20%, according to data collected by the EPA. In addition, according to the EPA, air pollution in the US has decreased for every known type of pollutant since 1992. The 1992 report also touched on the seemingly inevitable future of mass deforestation, but the amount of forests in the world has only decreased by a mere three percent since the claim was made.
Another interesting piece of news is that back in June, world-famous professor Stephen Hawking issued a much more dramatic, albeit science fiction-esque statement. Hawking claimed that within time, various natural factors would lead toward the complete end of the Earth.
“I am convinced that humans need to leave Earth…[the Earth] is becoming too small for us, our physical resources are being drained at an alarming rate,” said Hawking during a speech at the Starmus science festival in Norway earlier this year. “We have given our planet the disastrous gift of climate change, rising temperatures, the reducing of polar ice caps, deforestation and decimation of animal species. We are running out of space and the only places to go to are other worlds.”
Although Hawking’s claims are certainly quite substantial, one must understand the root message that the humans of our current Earth have much to improve on, in terms of the effects of their actions on the environment and the world in general.
It is true that humans have not been exactly helpful towards improving the life of our planet, in terms of increased global warming, a rapidly growing population, and other aspects of life. Yet, the thousands of scientists across the Earth claiming that our planet is “doomed” are not entirely true. In the past 25 years, many important facets of our world, including hunger and deforestation, have been either improved or maintained over time. It is possible that in another quarter century, scientists will again issue a dire warning to humans, but until then, recent history has shown that our planet may not be doomed in the near future.