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Scientists issue new 'Warning to Humanity'

Twenty-five years after the first warning, over 15,000 scientists sign a notice that raises a red flag about overpopulation and environmental destruction.

The GOES-16 weather satellite captured this view of Earth in early 2017.

NOAA/NASA

Back in 1992, a group of 1,700 scientists issued the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity." Humanity hasn't been listening very well.

This week, concerned scientists felt compelled to release a new warning 25 years after the original cautioned that "human beings and the natural world are on a collision course."

The original statement warned about ozone depletion, endangered water supplies, ocean habitat destruction, loss of soil productivity, destruction of forests and loss of species. The forward-thinking warning called for a move away from fossil fuels, a halt to deforestation and a stabilization of the human population. So what does the new warning say? Pretty much the same things.

The majority of living Nobel science laureates signed the original warning, which was issued by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a group dedicated to finding science-based solutions to environmental issues. The second notice is signed by over 15,000 scientists from across the globe.

The BioScience journal published the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice" on Monday. It looks back at the original warning and evaluates our progress (or lack thereof) since that time.

"Since 1992, with the exception of stabilizing the stratospheric ozone layer, humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, most of them are getting far worse," the notice says.

The new warning goes into detail on what scientists would like to see happen to change our course. It includes everything from increasing outdoor nature education for children to encouraging a movement toward mostly plant-based diets. 

There are some notable names among the signers, including primatologist Jane Goodall, climate scientist James Hansen and five Nobel laureates.

Will humanity listen this time? The warning ends on a needed note of optimism: "Working together while respecting the diversity of people and opinions and the need for social justice around the world, we can make great progress for the sake of humanity and the planet on which we depend."