Climate Scientists Speak Out: "The Urgent Need to Act Cannot be Overstated"


Photo via Boston
Politico, the right-leaning, beltway-insider political magazine, has run a must-read op-ed by four of the nation's leading climate scientists. These four scientists have recently testified before Congress about the urgent need to act on climate change, and the piece explains why. Here's the gist of it: First, the strength of the science:
Consider the identification of the ozone hole in the 1980s. A consensus emerged among experts within a few years of finding key evidence -- though a small number of experts remained unconvinced.

Such is the case with climate science. Theories and observations have been tested, retested and reviewed. Today, a large body of evidence has been collected to support the broad scientific understanding that global climate warming, as evident these last few decades, is unprecedented for the past 1000 years -- and this change is due to human activities.

This conclusion is based on decades of rigorous research by thousands of scientists and endorsed by all of the world's major national science academies.

That's the simple truth -- those who think climate change is a hoax or a scam are either woefully uninformed, or willfully ignorant. As the piece goes on to state, there is indeed plenty of uncertainty (how fast ice sheets are melting, how fast sea levels will rise, the effect of warming on extreme weather events like hurricanes, etc). But there is about as close to no uncertainty as scientifically possible that global warming is occurring, and that it is caused by man. Which brings us to the part about doing something about the whole carbon-emitting mess:
The urgent need to act cannot be overstated. Climate change caused by humans is already affecting our lives and livelihoods -- with extreme storms, unusual floods and droughts, intense heat waves, rising seas and many changes in biological systems -- as climate scientists have projected.

The biggest question is what choices we and our children should make about energy use. The more dependent we are on carbon-emitting energy sources, the more our climate will change.

Indeed. Which is why we need policy that curbs dependence on fossil fuels, and we need it ASAP. And that despite the desire of many interests to protect the status quo, we cannot afford to take, say, Rush Limbaugh's or Fox News' opinions of climate science seriously any longer. The public must understand that the scientific evidence is overwhelming, we're already seeing the consequences of climate change, and that the time to act is now.
regardless of how the debate proceeds, it should be clear that opinions or misinformation cannot change the extensive scientific evidence. The atmosphere, the oceans and the land are warming. Humans are contributing significantly to this, and as it continues, it will have a major impact on our society, economy, environment, energy, national security and health throughout, and well beyond, this century.

As climate scientists, we have a responsibility to share our understanding with the public and with policymakers.

But, the future depends not on what scientists have learned and conveyed. Rather, it depends on what society chooses to do with that knowledge.

And right now, our decision-making process isn't running so smoothly . . .

Via Climate Progress
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