World Scientists' Warning to Humanity
This page is taken from the book "The Sacred Balance" by David Suzuki
and Amanda McConnell:
Since the beginning of the 1990s, the media have turned away from
environmental issues as from an unpleasant sight. They have focused
on economics and global competitiveness as our most pressing challenges.
On November 18, 1992, a document titled "World Scientists'
Warning to Humanity" was released, five months after the Earth
Summit in Rio, the largest gathering of heads of state in history. It was signed by over 1600 senior scientists from 71 countries, including
more than half of all living Nobel Prize winners [in science].
The document began:
"Human beings and the natural world are
on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible
damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked,
many of our current practices put at serious risk the future that
we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and
may so alter the living world that it will be unable to sustain
life in the manner that we know [emphasis added]. Fundamental
changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course
The warning went on to list the crises in the atmosphere, water
resources, the oceans, the soil, the forests, biodiversity and human
Then the words became stark:
"No more than one or a few decades
remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will
be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished. We
the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community,
hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our
stewardship of the Earth and life on it is required, if vast human
misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not
to be irretrievably mutilated."
How was this warning was reported in the news?
When the World's Scientists Warning to Humanity was released to
the press, how do you think it was received?
Canada's national newspaper and television ignored it.
In the United States, the Washington Post and the New York Times
rejected it as "not newsworthy".
On 19 November 1992, (the day after the release of the scientists'
warning) the front page of the New York Times included stories about
Catholic Bishops rejecting a policy statement on the role of women,
police officers firing at their fellow cops, the origins of rock
and roll, a New York State legislature enquiry into banking policy,
the political motives behind inspection of passport files and Bill
Clinton's welcome in Washington as newly elected president, with
two photos of Mr. Clinton.
That same day, the front page of Canada's Globe and Mail included
stories about a report that Progressive Conservative politicians
ignored their own polling results, a debate about a CBC program on
World War II, loss of confidence among Canadians and the results
of delays in AIDS testing, as well as short news hits on a cocaine
bust, mutual funds, aid to Canadian airlines and hockey player Wayne
A large photograph of cars forming an image of Mickey Mouse took
All of these items were deemed more newsworthy than the scientists'
How could this be possible?
Source: David Suzuki with Amanda McConnell - "The Sacred Balance"
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