Statements on global climate change from respected scientific institutions
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Statements on Global Climate Change From Respected Scientific Institutions Crispin H. Pierce, Ph.D. February 2006 Preface The role of health scientists is to provide objective information (risk assessment) upon which public health decisions (risk management) can be made.

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Statements on Global Climate Change From Respected Scientific Institutions

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Statements on Global Climate Change From Respected Scientific Institutions

Crispin H. Pierce, Ph.D.

February 2006


Preface

  • The role of health scientists is to provide objective information (risk assessment) upon which public health decisions (risk management) can be made.

  • This document is intended to share the findings of respected scientific institutions on three questions: 1) Is global warming occurring? 2) Are human activities a major cause? and 3) Is this a serious human health threat?


  • The list of institutions was subjectively determined on the basis of consistent, objective reporting of scientific findings by the author, who has 33 years of education, research and experience in environmental public health.

  • Institutions were first chosen, then position statements from each institution were sought.

  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Aeronautics and Space Administration were not chosen due to recent evidence that information from these institutions has been politically shaped.


List of Institutions

  • National Academy of Sciences

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science / Science

  • American Chemical Society / Chemical and Engineering News

  • American Geophysical Union

  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • US National Research Council

  • Journal of the American Medical Association

  • US Environmental Protection Agency

  • World Health Organization

  • Woods Hole Research Center


National Academy of Sciences

“Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is nowstrong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate.”


American Association for the Advancement of Science

  • “As we add greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane to the atmosphere, they form a blanket that intercepts infrared radiation as it leaves Earth. This "greenhouse effect" has been well understood for more than a century. Models that have tracked average global temperature over its fluctuations during the past 10 centuries show that it has followed natural events (such as volcanic eruptions and variations in solar flux) quite well up until the 20th century. Then it entered a rapidly rising phase, associated with an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from its preindustrial level of 280 parts per million (ppm) to the present level of 380 ppm--a value still accelerating as we continue business as usual. That's why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change now attributes much of the present warming trend to human activity.” Editor-in-chief Donald Kennedy, Science


American Chemical Society

  • “The NASA scientists also maintain that the link between the record temperatures and human activities is clear. ‘Recent warming coincides with rapid growth of human-made greenhouse gases,’ they write. ‘Climate models show that the rate of warming is consistent with expectations. The observed rapid warming thus gives urgency to discussions about how to slow greenhouse gas emissions.’ Rudy Baum, Editor-in-chief, Chemical and Engineering News


American Geophysical Union

  • “Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.”


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system.”

  • “The global average surface temperature has increased over the 20th century by about 0.6°C.”

  • “Temperatures have risen during the past four decades in the lowest 8 kilometres of the atmosphere.”


  • “Snow cover and ice extent have decreased.”

  • “Global average sea level has risen and ocean heat content has increased.”

  • “Some important aspects of climate appear not to have changed.”

  • “Emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols due to human activities continue to alter the atmosphere in ways that are expected to affect the climate.”


  • “Concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and their radiative forcing have continued to increase as a result of human activities.”

  • “Natural factors have made small contributions to radiative forcing over the past century.”

  • “There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”


  • “Anthropogenic climate change will persist for many centuries.”


US National Research Council

  • “Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century.”


  • “The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue.”


Journal of the American Medical Association

  • “This issue of MSJAMA brings together several lines of published evidence that global warming has emerged as a public health challenge requiring serious, concerted action. Jonathan Patz and Mahmooda Khaliq survey the immediate threats posed by climate change as well as some of the more insidious ones. Kent Bransford and Janet Lai find grounds for a common approach to both climate change and air pollution. Stephen Liang and colleagues describe technologies that can help track the spread of climate-sensitive infectious disease vectors. Finally, William Burns discusses public policy tools to respond and adapt to these challenges.”

  • “…it is not too late and none too soon for the health care community to advocate policies that wean us from fossil fuels and ultimately mitigate the extent of human-induced climate change.” John F. Staropoli


US Environmental Protection Agency

  • “Scientists know for certain that human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2 ), in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times have been well documented. There is no doubt this atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities.”


  • “It's well accepted by scientists that greenhouse gases trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and tend to warm the planet. By increasing the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, human activities are strengthening Earth's natural greenhouse effect. The key greenhouse gases emitted by human activities remain in the atmosphere for periods ranging from decades to centuries.”


  • “A warming trend of about 1°F has been recorded since the late 19th century. Warming has occurred in both the northern and southern hemispheres, and over the oceans. Confirmation of 20th-century global warming is further substantiated by melting glaciers, decreased snow cover in the northern hemisphere and even warming below ground.”


World Health Organization

  • “Global warming is one of the most serious threats to our environment.”


Woods Hole Research Center

  • “…it is certain that we have been experiencing increasing numbers of climatic events unprecedented in the human experience. It is also certain that many of the greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, have lengthy residence times in the atmosphere and that we will continue to be affected for years or even centuries to come by the atmospheric burden we are creating today.”


Conclusions

  • Each of these institutions has stated, explicitly or implicitly that,

    • The Earth’s temperature is rising;

    • Human generation of greenhouse gases, deforestation, and land uses are a major cause of temperature increase; and

    • This increase is a serious threat to human health.


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