AAAS Board Releases New Statement on Climate Change 18 February 2007
- 18 February 2007
AAAS Board Releases New Statement on Climate Change
The retreating Qori Kalis glacier in the Andes of Peru in 2000
Photograph courtesy of Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University
The following statement on global climate change was released today
during the AAAS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. The statement was
approved by the board on 9 December 2006.
Print and read the statement as an Acrobat PDF.
The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by
human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to
society. Accumulating data from across the globe reveal a wide array
of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, destabilization of major ice
sheets, increases in extreme weather, rising sea level, shifts in
species ranges, and more. The pace of change and the evidence of harm
have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control
greenhouse gas emissions is now.
The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide, a critical greenhouse
gas, is higher than it has been for at least 650,000 years. The
average temperature of the Earth is heading for levels not experienced
for millions of years. Scientific predictions of the impacts of
increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases from fossil
fuels and deforestation match observed changes. As expected,
intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe
storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and
societies. These events are early warning signs of even more
devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.
Delaying action to address climate change will increase the
environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs. The
longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive
the task will be.
History provides many examples of society confronting grave threats by
mobilizing knowledge and promoting innovation. We need an aggressive
research, development and deployment effort to transform the existing
and future energy systems of the world away from technologies that
emit greenhouse gases. Developing clean energy technologies will
provide economic opportunities and ensure future energy supplies.
In addition to rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions, it is
essential that we develop strategies to adapt to ongoing changes and
make communities more resilient to future changes.
The growing torrent of information presents a clear message: we are
already experiencing global climate change. It is time to muster the
political will for concerted action. Stronger leadership at all levels
is needed. The time is now. We must rise to the challenge. We owe this
to future generations.
The conclusions in this statement reflect the scientific consensus
represented by, for example, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change, and the joint National Academies' statement.
For more information, see the AAAS Global Climate-Change Resources page.
18 February 2007