Listen up, people! 15,000 scientists have come together to write a dire “warning to humanity,” in the online journal BioScience, stating that mankind is under serious threat. The warning comes as an update to an original warning sent from the Union of Concerned Scientists 25 years ago. And as you probably already guessed, the state of the environment is much, much, worse than it was back then.

The scientists warn in the letter that if we continue to not act “…there be catastrophic biodiversity loss and untold amounts of human misery,” The hole in the ozone layer has improved since the first letter 25 years ago, but every other threat, including climate change, deforestation, mass species extinction, ocean dead zones has gotten worse. “Soon it will be too late to shift course away from our failing trajectory, and time is running out. We must recognize, in our day-to-day lives and in our governing institutions, that Earth with all its life is our only home,” the letter goes on to warn.

The collective letter was led by U.S. Ecologist, Professor William Ripple from Oregon State University and draws upon data from government agencies, non-profit organizations, and individual researchers to make their case. The letter notes some upsetting facts, for instance, nearly 300 million acres of forest has been lost, mostly to make way for agricultural land and the number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and fish in the world has fallen by 29 percent collectively, with the human population rising 35 percent.

The letter also notes climate change as a threat, and while there are many more drivers of climate change, they are all sadly linked to the expansion of the industrial animal agriculture industry. For instance, the global livestock system accounts for 23 percent of global freshwater consumption and, 45 percent of the total land use. It is also one of the largest drivers of global deforestation, as more space is needed to graze cattle and grow feed for livestock. If rates of deforestation continue, there likely won’t be any rainforests left in the next 100 years.

While this news is certainly bleak, the scientists do offer solutions, such as establishing nature reserves, reducing food waste, and shifting toward a plant-based diet was even suggested. When it comes to talking about ways to combat climate change, few organizations point toward reducing meat and dairy consumption. Here at One Green Planet, we’ve been adamant on the point that global food system dominated by industrial animal agriculture is at the heart of our environmental crisis.

The good news is that you can make a difference, simply by starting with what’s on your plate. You can start eating for the planet by doing nothing more than choosing a delicious plant-based meal over one laden with animal products. If you look at it from a personal perspective, you can cut your own carbon footprint in half just by leaving meat off your plate for one year. (Plus save a lot of water, redirect grain for people to eat, and help protect endangered species…)

We all have the power to create a better future for our children, and the countless animals we share the planet with, by making one easy swap. If you’re ready to start doing this in your own life, check out One Green Planet’s #EatForThePlanet campaign.

Image Source: Gui Seiz/Flickr