Earth Could Reach Devastating Ecological Tipping Point by 2025

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June 7 2012 3:32 PM

Earth Could Reach Devastating Ecological Tipping Point by 2025

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A new report suggests a point of no return is fast approaching where the Earth could move towards inevitable mass extinctions and other global environmental disasters because of overpopulation and pollution.

Photo by JOEL SAGET/AFP/GettyImages

Our population growth and impact on ecosystems is driving our home planet to a tipping point, and a grave future that may not include us.

That’s the message argued by 22 environmental experts in a new paper published in Nature this week. If not dealt with immediately, the scientists say a "state shift" on Earth will be inevitable, leading to sweeping biosphere changes that will include mass extinctions. The report—released ahead of the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro later this month—says by 2025, 50 percent of Earth's land will have been altered by man, destroying essential natural environments needed to sustain life. And that moment just 13 years from now could be the beginning of the end of life as we know it.

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Pointing to soaring global emissions, the collapse of North Atlantic cod fisheries and pine beetle devastation of western forests, the report says if we don’t act now, we could see devastation in a matter of a few human generations. If the predictions are true, climate change deniers might live long enough to eat their words after all … assuming there’s enough to go around.

Video by Paca Thomas.

Ben Johnson is the producer of Marketplace Tech from American Public Media.

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