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18 leading scientific organizations send letter to Senators affirming the climate is changing, “human activities are the primary driver,” impacts are projected to worsen “substantially” and “If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

By Joe Romm  

"18 leading scientific organizations send letter to Senators affirming the climate is changing, “human activities are the primary driver,” impacts are projected to worsen “substantially” and “If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”"

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Here is the letter from 18 top U.S. scientific organizations:

Dear Senator:

As you consider climate change legislation, we, as leaders of scientific organizations, write to state the consensus scientific view.

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.

These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment. For the United States, climate change impacts include sea level rise for coastal states, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, urban heat waves, western wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the country. The severity of climate change impacts is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades. [See Footnote #1 below]

If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced. In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation efforts include improved infrastructure design, more sustainable management of water and other natural resources, modified agricultural practices, and improved emergency responses to storms, floods, fires and heat waves.

We in the scientific community offer our assistance to inform your deliberations as you seek to address the impacts of climate change.

Well it’s a start (see “Publicize or perish: The scientific community is failing miserably in communicating the potential catastrophe of climate change“).  But I still prefer the Bali declaration by more than 200 of the world’s leading climate scientists, which embraces the 2°C target and specific emissions reductions targets.

The footnote reads:

The conclusions in this paragraph reflect the scientific consensus represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.S. Global Change Research Program. Many scientific societies have endorsed these findings in their own statements, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, and American Statistical Association.

You go, statisticians — now if you would only clue in your Danish counterpart (see “The Bjorn Irrelevancy: Duke dean disses Danish delayer“).

Here are all the organizations that signed on:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences
  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • American Statistical Association
  • Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
  • Botanical Society of America
  • Crop Science Society of America
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Natural Science Collections
  • Alliance Organization of Biological Field Stations
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  • Society of Systematic Biologists
  • Soil Science Society of America
  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

No American Physical Society?  They’ve got some explaining to do.

Kudos to all those scientific organizations who did sign on!

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24 Responses to 18 leading scientific organizations send letter to Senators affirming the climate is changing, “human activities are the primary driver,” impacts are projected to worsen “substantially” and “If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

  1. Dennis says:

    From the American Physical Society website:

    (Adopted by Council on November 18, 2007)

    Emissions of greenhouse gases from human activities are changing the atmosphere in ways that affect the Earth’s climate. Greenhouse gases include carbon dioxide as well as methane, nitrous oxide and other gases. They are emitted from fossil fuel combustion and a range of industrial and agricultural processes.

    The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring.

    source: http://www.aps.org/policy/statements/07_1.cfm

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    BRAVO. Now, will The New York Times cover this, on the front page, complete with relevant quotes that represent the gravity of the matter?

    We will see, won’t we?

    Andy Revkin, Erica Goode, the front page deciders, Bill Keller?

    Is this newsworthy, New York Times? Is it important enough for a prominent and detailed article, beginning on the Front Page?

    Or, is the Front Page mainly good enough to carry ExxonMobil advertisements?

    Please let us know, as you will do (automatically) in the paper over the next couple days.

    With hope,

    Jeff

  3. Gail says:

    Thanks to paulm for putting up a link to this letter in Joe’s last post listing the positions of individual Senators – I sent it to several of the anti-Palin Alaska bloggers, who have a wide audience – hopefully they will post it and encourage their readers to contact the Alaska Senators, Murkowski and Begich, fence-sitters both, and demand they vote for serious climate change legislation that will slash carbon emissions and a transition to clean, renewable energy!

  4. Lloyd Apter says:

    So, the scientists are willing to convince the government but I think they know already – at least I believe Obama knows.

    The big turnaround is going to be mobilizing ourselves from the outside party to the inside party. We have probably never had this opportunity.

    It’s tough, cause we could miss the opportunity here for amazing changes.

  5. Dano says:

    Now, will The New York Times cover this, on the front page, complete with relevant quotes that represent the gravity of the matter?

    I, personally, won’t hold my breath.

    Best,

    D

  6. paulm says:

    I think they should go and camp out on the senate steps as the next step and proclaim the contents of the letter.

    Also some philanthropist (Bill Gates are you there) should paid to air a summary of the letter on prime time US TV.

    what says Obama?

  7. caerbannog says:


    I, personally, won’t hold my breath.

    Best,

    D

    Fox News may give it top billing. “Liberal scientists want to take away your freedom”, or something like that…

  8. Wes Rolley says:

    Sen. Inhofe has already anticipated this with his rant against scientists who are so constrained by the current economy that they will say anything to get more grant money.

    He did say that, didn’t he? http://tinyurl.com/yf8vras
    Yup, sure did.

  9. Gail says:

    Oh, this is too funny. I live in the same neck of the woods as former Gov’s Whitman and Kean, in NJ.

    What did I see at our little local post office this morning?

    A guy had a stand with a huge banner, something about how evil Obama’s health care plan is, and in huge letters it said…

    KILL GRANDMA!!

    Why R there so many morans that hate their own best interests???

    I do not know.

  10. “Why R there so many morons that hate their own best interests?”

    In order to recognize those interests, they’d also have to recognize how they’ve acted against those interests for their entire lives. Psychologically their world would unravel: if they’ve been wrong about this, what else have they been wrong about?

    (Too bad that “R” can’t be backwards …)

  11. Stephan says:

    Interesting letter. Defenitely an eye opening approach. Hopefully I’m not the only one that sees it like that.

    For more info on the environment, have a look at this Green Times.

  12. Canada Guy says:

    But, wait, it’s a conspiracy, I tell you, a conspiracy!

    Unfortunately even if we could send this letter to every household in the US, they’d still find some obscure organization that claims global warming is a fraud and wave it about claiming that settles it.

    I don’t know how to communicate to people that having a conspiracy of 10s of thousands of scientists is even more unlikely than the loopy 9/11 conspiracy theories. Maybe Al Gore developed a secret mind control project when he was VP. :(

    Here’s hoping rationality prevails.

  13. Roger says:

    I agree with Paulm, but wish that Jeff’s hopes could be realized.

    And, right, “What says Obama?” These are times that try our souls, and also times that cry out for uncommon leadership. It’s show time, sir!

    I worked hard to help Obama get elected, primarily because of his stance on climate. Now, it’s time for the President to go on prime-time, national TV to give a “State of the Climate” address that clearly spells out what these scientists are saying. (SOME people might be swayed!)

    I know, there are still folks who won’t get it. So for them, the Federal government should approve emergency funding to fight a “war to slow climate change,” beginning with a series of “cool” ads for the media. (Why, if we thought about it, we, the public, could probably outspend the fossil-fuel-related interests that currently pump so much money into the media.)

    Surely, if Madison Avenue can convince us to buy still ANOTHER carload of stuff, even though our houses are already stuffed, they should be able to sell us on the nifty idea of saving ourselves from a slow, cruel extinction, brought on by burning the last ounce of our dwindling fossil fuels.

    Is this asking too much of ourselves and our elected officials!

    I certainly hope, and pray, not–for the sake of us all!

  14. Jeff Huggins says:

    The Russell-Einstein Manifesto, and paulm’s Comment 6

    Many people alive today probably aren’t familiar with the “Russell-Einstein Manifesto”, signed by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and a dozen or so Nobel Prize winners, and announced with a flurry by Bertrand Russell in London, way back when.

    It was a great, and necessary, initiative. I’d suggest that people read the brief Manifesto and also the brief and moving text of Bertrand Russell’s announcement.

    Thanks to paulm (Comment 6) for those ideas. I agree. Scientists should make themselves, and their presence, known to the Senate and to the broad public. There should be an announcement that the media can’t refuse to cover. And, people who can afford to do so SHOULD really pay for the announcement to be carried in media far and wide. There is too much public confusion on this. It’s time for that to end.

    To that end, it might be a GREAT idea for you, Joe, to do a post on the Russell-Einstein Manifesto, in the context of the need for, and precedent of, responsible and brilliant scientists, philosophers, and others to speak out, responsibly.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  15. Powerful Essay on Understanding Global Warming as Human-Induced

    To truly understand Global Warming as due to HUMAN activity one needs to understand the time-scales involved.

    Here’s a powerful essay in advance of the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, with a foreword by Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies:

    A Day in the Life of the Earth
    http://blogontheuniverse.org/2009/06/13/a-day-in-the-life-of-the-earth/

    In addition, a number of other powerful CLIMATE CHANGE posts at Blog on the Universe at: http://bit.ly/HHgif

    Jeff Goldstein, Center Director
    National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

  16. mike roddy says:

    Don’t worry about Senator Inhofe, a lifetime nominee in all of the “12 dumbest members of Congress” polls. It’s the others that we need to be concerned about (thanks for that list earlier, Joe). I think we can write off some of the ones like Landrieu and Byrd, too, since home pressures are just too intense.

    It’s the Midwestern and Western Republicans that we may be able to reach. Wyoming is out, but The Salt Lake City paper, for example, is surprisingly progressive, and there’s hope for Senators from states in the upper Midwest. If Graham can turn, who else has been overlooked?

    Statements like this one from all of the leading scientific organizations should be pretty persuasive. We’ll soon find out if our Senators are men- or Devo, hopelessly devolved.

    And Dano, I agree about NYT. They’re hooked up with all the wrong people. What worries me is a far right takeover of them and NBC. Progressive billionaires should be looking to buy these outlets, especially since they are cheap due to debt and P/Es.

  17. Leif says:

    A letter I sent to the New York Times. Write one of your own to your paper of choice.

    Editor, NY times:

    Now that Limbaugh has told your science writer to “go kill himself” I would think your allegiance to the denier’s causes, (for whatever reasons I find hard to imagine,) had ended and you could start returning to a paper of some merit. How about a nice front page spread of the recent letter sent by the Academy of Science to the senate stating that global warming is in fact, unequivocally caused man’s green house gas emissions and is poised to cause a world of hurt! Hell you could even follow it up with a weekly “environmental issue pointing out some of the effects already in the pipeline. Perhaps ocean acidification for starters. You will not run out of material, trust me! Get it their face… Get some stones… Never go to sea in a boat you would not be proud to have as a coffin…
    You owe it to yourselves… You owe it to your readers… You owe it to the world…

    Sincerely and frustrated long time subscriber, ( lived thru your sh** coverage of the Gulf war)

    Leif

  18. Bill Maddox says:

    Thank you Leif. As a long time NY Times reader my sympathies exactly.

    Bill

  19. Gail says:

    I just made the minimum gift of $5 to NPR, which is having their biannual fundraising drive, with this message (200 character maximum):

    Five Dollars is more than you deserve. Why? You are doing a lousy job of covering the most important story in the history of the earth – climate change.

  20. Jeff Huggins says:

    WHO WILL COVER THE LETTER, and HOW PROMINENTLY?

    An Examination

    I think this rather amazing and concrete letter, on the largest issue of our times, presents a great opportunity to “test” the media and strongly encourage improvement.

    Who will cover it, and how prominently?

    The New York Times? The Wall Street Journal? CNN? MSNBC? Fox News? ABC, CBS, and NBC?

    As many of us are probably wondering, will The New York Times cover the letter on its Front Page?

    And what about USA Today?

    Perhaps we should watch this and note, here or in another thread, who covers it, when, and how well?

    There would really be no excuse for not covering it prominently. It seems to me that this offers a very real test for the news media organizations. They all say they “get it” — or at least most of them say that. But do they, really?

    Let’s see.

    Jeff

  21. Jeff Huggins says:

    AND . . .

    By the way, as we all know here, this story (the letter) is over 100 times as “big” as the boy not in the balloon and many other stories that are given huge coverage. Of course, “100 times” is putting it mildly, and the difference really is unquantifiable.

    If we have any sense as a species, and if any of that sense is in the news media, this letter (and what it asserts and means) should be the largest story by far in coming days.

    I think there is a need for people who realize that to push for that.

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  22. caerbannog says:

    My cup will runneth over this weekend!

    Saturday is the 350.org “International Day of Climate Action” — there are several events planned near my place in San Diego.

    But Sunday is the big enchilada: There will be a “tea-party” rally at Tuna Harbor Park (downtown SD, next to the Midway Museum) at 11:00. woo-hoo!!!

  23. Sam says:

    Yeah, but they didn’t get George Will’s signature, so it must not be so. Just ask him.

  24. Kim says:

    Good letter an’ all, but they’re still sh***ing about the proverbial bush. “Broad impacts on society”, “increased risk of regional water scarcity”. They sound like politicians ferchrissakes! Say what it means to PEOPLE. “The midwest may well turn to a desert”. “Vegas will become uninhabitable”. “Florida will drown”. “The hordes of the south will flee their ever less inhabitable lands and will come to your city, whether you like it or not. In the hundreds of millions. Then we’ll have integration problems”. Whatever. But people really need to see what actual consequences global warming (and global change in an even greater perspective) will be. “Broad impacts on society” won’t ever cut it as a persuasive argument.