Scientific opinion on climate change

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Scientific opinion on climate change

Post  jancancook on Wed Dec 15, 2010 6:56 pm

Scientific opinion on climate change is given by synthesis reports, scientific bodies of national or international standing, and surveys of opinion among climate scientists. Individual scientists, universities, and laboratories contribute to the overall scientific opinion via their peer reviewed publications, and the areas of collective agreement and relative certainty are summarised in these high level reports and surveys. Self-selected lists of individuals' opinions, such as petitions, are not normally considered to be part of the scientific process.

National and international science academies and scientific societies have assessed the current scientific opinion, in particular on recent global warming. These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) position of January 2001 which states:

An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system... There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.[1]

No scientific body of national or international standing has maintained a dissenting opinion; the last was the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which in 2007 updated its 1999 statement rejecting the likelihood of human influence on recent climate with its current non-committal position.[2][3] Some other organisations also hold non-committal positions.

* 1 Synthesis reports
o 1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
o 1.2 U.S. Global Change Research Program
o 1.3 Arctic Climate Impact Assessment
* 2 Statements by organizations
o 2.1 Statements by concurring organizations
+ 2.1.1 Academies of Science
# Joint science academies' statements
# InterAcademy Council
# European Academy of Sciences and Arts
# International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
# Network of African Science Academies
# Royal Society of New Zealand
# Royal Society of the United Kingdom
# Polish Academy of Sciences
# National Research Council (US)
+ 2.1.2 General science
# American Association for the Advancement of Science
# American Chemical Society
# American Institute of Physics
# American Physical Society
# Australian Institute of Physics
# European Physical Society
# European Science Foundation
# Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
+ 2.1.3 Earth sciences
# American Geophysical Union
# European Federation of Geologists
# European Geosciences Union
# Geological Society of America
# Geological Society of Australia
# Geological Society of London
# International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
# National Association of Geoscience Teachers
+ 2.1.4 Meteorology and oceanography
# American Meteorological Society
# Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
# Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
# Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
# Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
# World Meteorological Organization
+ 2.1.5 Paleoclimatology
# American Quaternary Association
# International Union for Quaternary Research
+ 2.1.6 Biology and life sciences
# American Association of Wildlife Veterinarians
# American Institute of Biological Sciences
# American Society for Microbiology
# Australian Coral Reef Society
# Institute of Biology (UK)
# Society of American Foresters
# The Wildlife Society (international)
+ 2.1.7 Human health
# American Academy of Pediatrics
# American College of Preventive Medicine
# American Medical Association
# American Public Health Association
# Australian Medical Association
# World Federation of Public Health Associations
# World Health Organization
+ 2.1.8 Miscellaneous
# American Astronomical Society
# American Statistical Association
# Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
# International Association for Great Lakes Research
# Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand
o 2.2 Non-committal statements
+ 2.2.1 American Association of Petroleum Geologists
+ 2.2.2 American Association of State Climatologists
+ 2.2.3 American Geological Institute
+ 2.2.4 American Institute of Professional Geologists
+ 2.2.5 Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences
o 2.3 Statements by dissenting organizations
* 3 Surveys of scientists and scientific literature
o 3.1 Anderegg, Prall, Harold, and Schneider, 2010
o 3.2 Doran and Kendall Zimmerman, 2009
o 3.3 Bray and von Storch, 2008
o 3.4 STATS, 2007
o 3.5 Oreskes, 2004
o 3.6 Bray and von Storch, 2003
o 3.7 Survey of U.S. state climatologists, 1997
o 3.8 Bray and von Storch, 1996
o 3.9 Older surveys of scientists
* 4 Scientific consensus
* 5 See also
* 6 References

[edit] Synthesis reports

Synthesis reports are assessments of scientific literature that compile the results of a range of stand-alone studies in order to achieve a broad level of understanding, or to describe the state of knowledge of a given subject.[4]
[edit] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
Main article: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

In February 2007, the IPCC released a summary of the forthcoming Fourth Assessment Report. According to this summary, the Fourth Assessment Report finds that human actions are "very likely" the cause of global warming, meaning a 90% or greater probability. Global warming in this case is indicated by an increase of 0.75 degrees in average global temperatures over the last 100 years.[5]

The New York Times reported that “the leading international network of climate scientists has concluded for the first time that global warming is 'unequivocal' and that human activity is the main driver, very likely' causing most of the rise in temperatures since 1950”.[6]

A retired journalist for The New York Times, William K. Stevens wrote: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said the likelihood was 90 percent to 99 percent that emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, spewed from tailpipes and smokestacks, were the dominant cause of the observed warming of the last 50 years. In the panel’s parlance, this level of certainty is labeled 'very likely'. Only rarely does scientific odds-making provide a more definite answer than that, at least in this branch of science, and it describes the endpoint, so far, of a progression.”.[7]

The Associated Press summarized the position on sea level rise:

On sea levels, the report projects rises of 7-23 inches by the end of the century. That could be augmented by an additional 4-8 inches if recent polar ice sheet melt continues.[8]

[edit] U.S. Global Change Research Program

formerly the Climate Change Science Program

The U.S. Global Change Research Program reported in June, 2009[9] that:

Observations show that warming of the climate is unequivocal. The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases. These emissions come mainly from the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas), with important contributions from the clearing of forests, agricultural practices, and other activities.

The report, which is about the effects that climate change is having in the United States, also says:

Climate-related changes have already been observed globally and in the United States. These include increases in air and water temperatures, reduced frost days, increased frequency and intensity of heavy downpours, a rise in sea level, and reduced snow cover, glaciers, permafrost, and sea ice. A longer ice-free period on lakes and rivers, lengthening of the growing season, and increased water vapor in the atmosphere have also been observed. Over the past 30 years, temperatures have risen faster in winter than in any other season, with average winter temperatures in the Midwest and northern Great Plains increasing more than 7°F. Some of the changes have been faster than previous assessments had suggested.

[edit] Arctic Climate Impact Assessment

In 2004, the intergovernmental Arctic Council and the non-governmental International Arctic Science Committee released the synthesis report of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment:[10]

Climate conditions in the past provide evidence that rising atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are associated with rising global temperatures. Human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil, and natural gas), and secondarily the clearing of land, have increased the concentration of carbon dioxide, methane, and other heat-trapping ("greenhouse") gases in the atmosphere...There is international scientific consensus that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.[11]

[edit] Statements by organizations

This list of scientific bodies of national or international standing, that have issued formal statements of opinion, classifies those organisations according to whether they concur with the IPCC view, are non-committal, or dissent from it.
[edit] Statements by concurring organizations
[edit] Academies of Science
[edit] Joint science academies' statements

Since 2001, 32 national science academies have come together to issue joint declarations confirming anthropogenic global warming, and urging the nations of the world to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The signatories of these statements have been the national science academies:

* of Australia,
* of Belgium,
* of Brazil,
* of Cameroon,
* Royal Society of Canada,
* of the Caribbean,
* of China,
* Institut de France,
* of Ghana,
* Leopoldina of Germany,
* of Indonesia,
* of Ireland,
* Accademia nazionale delle scienze of Italy,
* of India,
* of Japan,
* of Kenya,
* of Madagascar,
* of Malaysia,
* of Mexico,
* of Nigeria,
* Royal Society of New Zealand,
* Russian Academy of Sciences,
* of Senegal,
* of South Africa,
* of Sudan,
* Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences,
* of Tanzania,
* of Turkey,
* of Uganda,
* The Royal Society of the United Kingdom,
* of the United States,
* of Zambia,
* and of Zimbabwe.

* 2001-Following the publication of the IPCC Third Assessment Report, seventeen national science academies issued a joint statement, entitled "The Science of Climate Change", explicitly acknowledging the IPCC position as representing the scientific consensus on climate change science. The statement, printed in an editorial in the journal Science on May 18, 2001[12], was signed by the science academies of Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Caribbean, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, New Zealand, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.[13]

* 2005-The national science academies of the G8 nations, plus Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action[14], and explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus. The eleven signatories were the science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

* 2007-In preparation for the 33rd G8 summit, the national science academies of the G8+5 nations issued a declaration referencing the position of the 2005 joint science academies' statement, and acknowledging the confirmation of their previous conclusion by recent research. Following the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, the declaration states, "It is unequivocal that the climate is changing, and it is very likely that this is predominantly caused by the increasing human interference with the atmosphere. These changes will transform the environmental conditions on Earth unless counter-measures are taken."[15] The thirteen signatories were the national science academies of Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

* 2008-In preparation for the 34th G8 summit, the national science academies of the G8+5 nations issued a declaration reiterating the position of the 2005 joint science academies’ statement, and reaffirming “that climate change is happening and that anthropogenic warming is influencing many physical and biological systems.” Among other actions, the declaration urges all nations to “(t)ake appropriate economic and policy measures to accelerate transition to a low carbon society and to encourage and effect changes in individual and national behaviour.”[16] The thirteen signatories were the same national science academies that issued the 2007 joint statement.

* 2009-In advance of the UNFCCC negotiations to be held in Copenhagen in December 2009, the national science academies of the G8+5 nations issued a joint statement declaring, "Climate change and sustainable energy supply are crucial challenges for the future of humanity. It is essential that world leaders agree on the emission reductions needed to combat negative consequences of anthropogenic climate change". The statement references the IPCC's Fourth Assessment of 2007, and asserts that "climate change is happening even faster than previously estimated; global CO2 emissions since 2000 have been higher than even the highest predictions, Arctic sea ice has been melting at rates much faster than predicted, and the rise in the sea level has become more rapid."[17] The thirteen signatories were the same national science academies that issued the 2007 and 2008 joint statements.

[edit] InterAcademy Council

As the representative of the world’s scientific and engineering academies,[18][19] the InterAcademy Council (IAC) issued a report in 2007 titled Lighting the Way: Toward a Sustainable Energy Future.

Current patterns of energy resources and energy usage are proving detrimental to the long-term welfare of humanity. The integrity of essential natural systems is already at risk from climate change caused by the atmospheric emissions of greenhouse gases.[20]

Concerted efforts should be mounted for improving energy efficiency and reducing the carbon intensity of the world economy.[21]

[edit] European Academy of Sciences and Arts

In 2007, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts issued a formal declaration on climate change titled Let's Be Honest:

Human activity is most likely responsible for climate warming. Most of the climatic warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been caused by increased concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Documented long-term climate changes include changes in Arctic temperatures and ice, widespread changes in precipitation amounts, ocean salinity, wind patterns and extreme weather including droughts, heavy precipitation, heat waves and the intensity of tropical cyclones. The above development potentially has dramatic consequences for mankind’s future.[22]

[edit] International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences

In 2007, the International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences (CAETS) issued a Statement on Environment and Sustainable Growth[23]:

As reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), most of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century is very likely due to human-produced emission of greenhouse gases and this warming will continue unabated if present anthropogenic emissions continue or, worse, expand without control.

CAETS, therefore, endorses the many recent calls to decrease and control greenhouse gas emissions to an acceptable level as quickly as possible.

[edit] Network of African Science Academies

In 2007, the Network of African Science Academies submitted a joint “statement on sustainability, energy efficiency, and climate change” to the leaders meeting at the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, Germany:

A consensus, based on current evidence, now exists within the global scientific community that human activities are the main source of climate change and that the burning of fossil fuels is largely responsible for driving this change.

The IPCC should be congratulated for the contribution it has made to public understanding of the nexus that exists between energy, climate and sustainability.[24]

The thirteen signatories were the science academies of Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, as well as the African Academy of Sciences.
[edit] Royal Society of New Zealand

Having signed onto the first joint science academies' statement in 2001, the Royal Society of New Zealand released a separate statement in 2008 in order to clear up "the controversy over climate change and its causes, and possible confusion among the public":

The globe is warming because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions. Measurements show that greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere are well above levels seen for many thousands of years. Further global climate changes are predicted, with impacts expected to become more costly as time progresses. Reducing future impacts of climate change will require substantial reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.[25]

[edit] Royal Society of the United Kingdom

The Royal Society of the United Kingdom has not changed its concurring stance. According to the Telegraph, "The most prestigious group of scientists in the country was forced to act after forty-three fellows complained that "uncertainty in the debate" over man made global warming were not being communicated to the public."[26] In May 2010, it announced that it "is presently drafting a new public facing document on climate change, to provide an updated status report on the science in an easily accessible form, also addressing the levels of certainty of key components."[27] The society says that it is three years since the last such document was published and that, after an extensive process of debate and review,[28][29] the new document was printed in September 2010 and better defines the areas where the science is settled as well as areas where there is still on going debate. The society has stated that "this is not the same as saying that the climate science itself is in error – no Fellows have expressed such a view to the RS".[27]

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