Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Second Warning to Humanity

By Ian Lowe

Fifteen thousand scientists have issued a warning to humanity that “many current life forms could be annihilated or committed to extinction by the end of this century”.

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Forty-five years ago, the first report to the Club of Rome was published. The Limits to Growth was a fundamental challenge to conventional politics and economics, which presume that endless growth is possible. It used the first global systems model to show that limits would be reached this century, with the most likely outcome a catastrophic decline in the capacity of natural systems to support human needs.

Twenty-five years ago, the Union of Concerned Scientists and more than 1500 researchers published the World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity. The document was signed by the majority of living Nobel Laureates in the sciences. They warned that human development was on a collision course with natural systems and urged “a great change in our stewardship of the Earth and life on it” to avoid “vast human misery”. The statement documented several areas of concern: depletion of the ozone layer, accelerating climate change, loss of biodiversity, freshwater availability, forest loss, marine life depletion, ocean dead zones and increasing human population.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the warning, more than 15,000 leading scientists have issued A Second Notice ( It warns that all of the alarming trends noted in the earlier warning have worsened, with the...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.