Climate science statement from the Met Office, NERC and the Royal Society: It’s the hottest decade on record and “even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened.”

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"Climate science statement from the Met Office, NERC and the Royal Society: It’s the hottest decade on record and “even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened.”"

The 2007 IPCC Assessment, the most comprehensive and respected analysis of climate change to date, states clearly that without substantial global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions we can likely expect a world of increasing droughts, floods and species loss, of rising seas and displaced human populations. However even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened. The scientific evidence which underpins calls for action at Copenhagen is very strong. Without co-ordinated international action on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts on climate and civilisation could be severe.

That is the “Summary” of the just-released statement by the Met Office (the UK’s National Weather Service, within the Ministry of Defence), the Natural Environment Research Council, and the UK’s Royal Society (the UK’s national academy of science, “the world’s oldest scientific academy in continuous existence,” founded in 1660).

The Royal Society’s motto is apt:  Nullius in verba — Latin for “On the words of no one” or “take nobody’s word for it.”  It is “an expression of its enduring commitment to empirical evidence as the basis of knowledge about the natural world.”

Our U.S. National Academy of Science should release something like this.

Below is the full must-read statement:

The UK is at the forefront of tackling dangerous climate change, underpinned by world class scientific expertise and advice. Crucial decisions will be taken soon in Copenhagen about limiting and reducing the impacts of climate change now and in the future. Climate scientists from the UK and across the world are in overwhelming agreement about the evidence of climate change, driven by the human input of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

As three of the UK’s leading scientific organisations involving most of the UK scientists working on climate change, we cannot emphasise enough the body of scientific evidence that underpins the call for action now, and we reinforce our commitment to ensuring that world leaders continue to have access to the best possible science. We believe this will be essential to inform sound decision-making on policies to mitigate and adapt to climate change up to Copenhagen and beyond.

The 2007 Assessment Report of the UN’s climate change panel (the IPCC) — made up of the world’s foremost climate scientists — provided unequivocal evidence for a warming climate, and a high degree of certainty that human activities are largely responsible for global warming since the middle of the 20th century. However, the IPCC process is based only on information already published and even since the last Assessment Report the scientific evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened significantly:

  • Global carbon dioxide concentrations continue to rise, and methane concentrations have started to increase again after a decade of near stability;
  • The decade 2000-2009 has been warmer, on average, than any other decade in the previous 150 years;
  • Observed changes in precipitation (decreases in the subtropics and increases in high latitudes) have been at the upper limit of model projections;
  • Arctic summer sea ice cover declined suddenly in 2007 and 2008, prompting the realisation that this environment may be far more vulnerable to change than previously thought;
  • There is increasing evidence of continued and accelerating sea-level rises around the world.

We expect some of the most significant impacts of climate change to occur when natural variability is exacerbated by long-term global warming, so that even small changes in global temperatures can produce damaging local and regional effects. Year on year the evidence is growing that damaging climate and weather events — potentially intensified by global warming — are already happening and beginning to affect society and ecosystems. This includes:

  • In the UK, heavier daily rainfall leading to local flooding such as in the summer of 2007;
  • Increased risk of summer heat waves such as the summers of 2003 across the UK and Europe;
  • Around the world, increasing incidence of extreme weather events with unprecedented levels of damage to society and infrastructure. This year’s unusually destructive typhoon season in South East Asia, while not easy to attribute directly to climate change, illustrates the vulnerabilities to such events;
  • Sea level rises leading to dangerous exposure of populations in, for example, Bangladesh, the Maldives and other island states;
  • Persistent droughts, leading to pressures on water and food resources, and the increasing incidence of forest fires in regions where future projections indicate long term reductions in rainfall, such as South West Australia and the Mediterranean.

These emerging signals are consistent with what we expect from our projections, giving us confidence in the science and models that underpin them. In the absence of action to mitigate climate change, we can expect much larger changes in the coming decades than have been seen so far.

Some countries and regions are already vulnerable to climate variability and change, but in the coming decades all countries will be affected, regardless of their affluence or individual emissions. Climate change will have major consequences for food production, water availability, ecosystems and human health, migration pressures, and regional instability. In the UK, we will be affected both directly and indirectly, through the effects of climate change on, for example, global markets (notably in food), health, extent of flooding, and sea levels.

The accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will lead to long-term changes in the climate system that will persist for millennia. Our growing understanding of the balance of carbon between the atmosphere, oceans and terrestrial systems tells us that the greater the accumulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the greater the risk of long-term damage to Earth’s life support systems. Known or probable damage includes ocean acidification, loss of rain forests, degradation of ecosystems, and desertification. These effects will lead to loss of biodiversity and reduced agricultural productivity. Reducing emissions of greenhouse gases can substantially limit the extent and severity of long-term climate change.

Summary

The 2007 IPCC Assessment, the most comprehensive and respected analysis of climate change to date, states clearly that without substantial global reductions of greenhouse gas emissions we can likely expect a world of increasing droughts, floods and species loss, of rising seas and displaced human populations. However even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened. The scientific evidence which underpins calls for action at Copenhagen is very strong. Without co-ordinated international action on greenhouse gas emissions, the impacts on climate and civilisation could be severe.

Professor Julia Slingo, Chief Scientist, Met Office
Professor Alan Thorpe, Chief Executive, NERC
Lord Rees, President, the Royal Society

Hear!  Hear!

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7 Responses to Climate science statement from the Met Office, NERC and the Royal Society: It’s the hottest decade on record and “even since the 2007 IPCC Assessment the evidence for dangerous, long-term and potentially irreversible climate change has strengthened.”

  1. Will says:

    Long live the Queen!

    That’s a great example of the type of statements we need to see from our scientific organizations. Keep pumping those out and maybe conservatives blocking action will take notice (just maybe…).

  2. Jeff Huggins says:

    Yes, BUT!

    This is a wonderful statement. But, will The New York Times (and other media) cover it with the focus it deserves?

    It has been weeks since eighteen leading U.S. scientific organizations sent a CLEAR and short letter, to all members of the U.S. Senate, and The New York Times has not covered it, as far as I can tell.

    And, although I tried repeatedly to see if “The Observatory” and Curtis Brainard would track and/or comment on the degree to which the media covered that letter, they haven’t done so, and I haven’t heard back.

    I’ve also encouraged (you might even call it pushed) Andy Revkin on the issue, to no avail.

    So, as these scientific organizations release clearer and clearer statements, the MEDIA need to cover those statements with the prominence and gravity that they deserve and that the issue calls for.

    Whether they do or not is a matter of ETHICS. Period.

    And, scientists should not sit around and wait. If The New York Times (for example) doesn’t cover letters and assessments such as this, prominently, scientists should stop buying The New York Times and, in my view, should even camp out in front of The Times building and start expressing deep and vocal concern.

    These statements are great — and necessary. But now, the question is whether the media will do their jobs.

    Andy? Curtis? Bill Keller? What about it? The world is watching.

    Jeff Huggins

  3. George Darroch says:

    The reason this is being ignored is because there is a war on science, waged by people for which it does not fit within their belief system.

  4. glen says:

    Talking about the 2007 IPCC Assessment.

    “Copenhagen Diagnosis”, a report released today; http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.com/

    Intended to update the IPCC 2007 Working Group 1 report and highlight policy-relevant climate science.

  5. C. Vink says:

    Good article on the Copenhagen Diagnosis-report mentioned by glen above, with the key findings from the report:

    ‘Copenhagen Grist / The Guardian Environment Network, November 25 – Diagnosis’ offers a grim update to the IPCC’s climate science
    Twenty-six climatologists—including 14 IPCC members—have released a startling update to the panel’s work, reporting that sea levels could rise and methane-laden arctic permafrost could melt much sooner than the panel had anticipated.

  6. C. Vink says:

    Sorry, here’s the working link:

    ‘Copenhagen Diagnosis’ offers a grim update to the IPCC’s climate science
    Grist / The Guardian Environment Network, November 25 – Twenty-six climatologists—including 14 IPCC members—have released a startling update to the panel’s work, reporting that sea levels could rise and methane-laden arctic permafrost could melt much sooner than the panel had anticipated.

  7. JRB says:

    Great Collective efforts the IPCC update
    was thinking An ACE in the Hole to stop
    the WAR on Science Data
    and insure unbiased from a constant source
    would be to pressure President Obama in Denmark
    to SET a DATE for NASA or someone to
    launch AL GORES 1998 DSCOVR project which just
    sets waiting a launch
    see http://dscovr.blogspot.com/