In a consensus letter to U.S. policymakers, a partnership of 31 leading nonpartisan scientific societies today reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions “must be substantially reduced” to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources, and human health.
“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” the collaborative said in its 28 June letter to Members of Congress. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.”
Climate-change impacts in the United States have already included increased threats of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and disturbances to ecosystems and animals, the intersociety group reported. “The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades,” the letter added. It cited the scientific consensus of the vast majority of individual climate scientists and virtually every leading scientific organization in the world, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the U.S. National Academies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Statistical Association, the Ecological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America.
“To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” the group said, adding that adaptation is also necessary to “address unavoidable consequences for human health and safety, food security, water availability, and national security, among others.”
The 28 June letter, representing a broad range of scientific disciplines, reaffirmed the key climate-change messages in a 2009 letter signed by 18 leading scientific organizations. The letter is being released again, by a larger consortium of 31 scientific organizations, to reassert the scientific consensus on climate change, and to provide objective, authoritative information to policymakers who must work toward solutions.
“Climate change is real and happening now, and the United States urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said AAAS Chief Executive Officer Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “We must not delay, ignore the evidence, or be fearful of the challenge. America has provided global leadership to successfully confront many environmental problems, from acid rain to the ozone hole, and we can do it again. We owe no less to future generations.”
The 28 June letter was signed by leaders of the 31 scientific organizations, including the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.
Among comments offered by leaders of participating organizations:
“Climate change has far-reaching implications to everyone on our planet, as it is tied closely with national security, economics, human health, and food security. There is consensus in the scientific community – climate is changing. Now we need policymakers to act, to invest in research to understand the effects of climate change and opportunities to mitigate its drivers, and to adapt to its impacts.”
— RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (Ret.), president and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership