The journal Science has recently published a letter, "Climate Change and the Integrity of Science," signed by 255 of world’s top scientists which states that:
“There is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.”
In their letter, the 255 acclaimed scientists boil down their conclusions on climate change into five simple, unequivocal facts:
- "The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.
- Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.
- Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth’s climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.
- Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.
- The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more."
The letter concludes with a strong plea urging policy-makers to “move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.”
These scientists are optimistic that with the right policies, we can avoid the worst effects of a changing climate. "The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option."
Senators should heed their words and work hard to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation this year. It won’t be easy, but explaining to their grandchildren that the environment is in shambles because they ignored the science or worse, because they didn’t have the courage to act – now that would be exponentially harder.
Read Joe Romm’s insightful comments on the letter’s significance on Climate Progress and Pacific Institute President Peter Gleick’s piece underscoring his motivation for signing the letter on Huffington Post.