Scientists accused of scaremongering, 'overheated claims' with warning to humanity

Scientists accused of scaremongering, 'overheated claims' with warning to humanity
From CBC - November 16, 2017

A recentwarning to humanityendorsedby thousands of scientists around the world includes "scaremongering"and "overheated" claims whileignoringmuch of the progress made in recent decades, some experts say.

"Itconcerns me that the message from science is this doom-and-gloom scenario that just turns off about 75 per cent ofpeople," saidErleEllis,an associate professor of geography and environmental systems at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

'There's asmall percentagethatloves the crisisnarrative, and theyjust repeatitoverand over to each other.' - ErleEllis,University of Maryland

"There's asmall percentagethatloves the crisisnarrative, and theyjust repeatitoverand over to each other."

Ellis said he's "somewhat embarrassed" for his scientific colleagues who have rallied behind thiswarning, arguing that it mostly talks about negative trends and ignores the increasing wealth, health and well-being of human populations globally.

'A real disservice'

Ted Nordhaus,environmental policy expert and co-chair of California-based think-tank the Breakthrough Institute, said while there are certainly global environmentalissues that need to be addressed, some of the more "dystopian" forecasts often end up being "wildly inaccurate."

"I think these really overheated claims do a real disservice," he said.

The direwarning, whichcomes 25 years after a similar missivewas issued by scientists,was published in the scientific journal BioScience. Headlined "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice," the article was signed by more than 15,000 scientists from 184 countries.

It paints a bleak pictureof the world's current situation when it comes to freshwater availability, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones, forest loss, biodiversity destruction, climate changeand continued human population growth.

"Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges and, alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse," it states.

"Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out."

Predictions failed to materialize

When it comes to the issue of overpopulation, the article warns that humanity is putting the world at jeopardy with "our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption" and by failing to recognizerapid population growth as "a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats."

Such predictions have been made for centuries, dating back to Robert Malthus who wrote in the 18th century about how population trends would have significant consequences on resources.

In 1968, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlichcaused waves with the publication of ThePopulation Bomb, which predictedthat overpopulation would result in the starvation deaths of hundreds of millions of people. In an interview in 1979 with CBS News, Ehrlichsaid, "Sometime in the next 15 years, the end will comeand by 'the end,'I mean an utter breakdown of the capacity of the planet to support humanity."

A toll on the environment


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