Thirty one leading scientific societies have today written to United States policymakers reconfirming the reality of man-made climate change and urging them to take action
The letter is intended as a reaffirmation of the message conveyed in a 2009 letter, at the time signed by eighteen leading scientific organisations, in the hope of providing authoritative information to those who have the power to work towards solutions.
“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 collaboration said in its letter to Members of Congress. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.”
The letter has been signed by the leaders of organisations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Meteorological Society, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Statistical Association.
The re-release of the letter, with its expanded consensus, is intended to drive home the dangers of greenhouse gas emissions from an objective perspective. With environmental issues often becoming politicised, the societies likely intend for their nonpartisan backgrounds to defuse accusations of political bias and enable them get straight to the science.
Citing the vast consensus of climate scientists and scientific organisations, including the US Global Change Research Program, the US National Academies and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the organisations’ message focuses on the negative impact that greenhouse gas emissions could have on many aspects of life around the world.
“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.”
Already in the United States alone, the group reports that climate change has seen increased threats of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires and disturbances to ecosystems and animals.
However, American politicians’ likely compliance with the suggestions of the intersociety group is uncertain, given their history with climate change.
We will have to wait to see whether the recent Paris Agreement will be ratified, but it would not be the first time the US has failed to ratify an ecological treaty; the Kyoto Protocol was notably never ratified under the Bush administration.
“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.”