It is actually an update of a letter sent out by a group of scientists titled "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity" in 1992, in which 1,700 scientists, including most scientific Nobel laureates alive at the time, stated what they considered the biggest threats to the planet and, by extension, to us.
The authors drew on data from government agencies, non-profit organisations and individual researchers to set out their case that environmental impacts were likely to inflict "substantial and irreversible harm" to the Earth.
"Humanity has failed to make sufficient progress in generally solving these foreseen environmental challenges, and alarmingly, majority are getting far worse", they write.
Writing in the online global journal BioScience, the scientists led by top USA ecologist Professor William Ripple, from Oregon State University, said: "Humanity is now being given a second notice ..."
Among the 25-year global trends outlined in the report are: a loss of 300 million acres of forestland, a 26% reduction in the amount of fresh water available per capita, a collective 29% reduction in number of mammals, reptiles, amphibians, birds and fish, and a 75% increase in the number of ocean dead zones. "Scientists are in the business of analyzing data and looking at the long-term consequences".
Prof Ripple said: "Those who signed this second warning aren't just raising a false alarm".
Ripple says he learned about the original 1992 warning last February and chose to update the concerns he found there with new data. They are acknowledging the obvious signs that we are heading down an unsustainable path.
Twitter helped the #ScientistsWarningToEarth garner 15,000 signatures. The fact that we have managed to solve the ozone crisis by acting decisively and collectively goes to show that these kinds of agreements and global action are within reach.
The number of signatories may be the largest for any published scientific paper ever, said co-author Thomas Newsome, a research fellow at Deakin University and The University of Sydney. "People just started sharing the letter; it was added to a few email lists and things just took off from there". The report outlines 13 areas that humanity could address to help make our life on earth sustainable. "This prescription was well articulated by the world's leading scientists 25 years ago, but in most respects, we have not heeded their warning", the article said.
"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", the scientists suggest in the end of their letter.