BOULDER—As the U.S. Senate considers climate change legislation, 18 leading scientific organizations have sent a letter to members of the senate reaffirming the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gases from human activities are the primary driver.
Richard Anthes, president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, added his signature to the letter on behalf of UCAR, a nonprofit organization governed by 75 member universities granting Ph.D.s in atmospheric and related Earth system sciences.
Sent to all senators on October 21, the letter states in part:
"Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. Moreover, there is strong evidence that ongoing climate change will have broad impacts on society, including the global economy and on the environment."
In the United States, these impacts could include sea level rise for coastal states, greater chances of extreme weather, regional water shortages and floods, and wildfires, the letter said. The organizations noted that a dramatic reduction in greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary to avoid such serious impacts and warned that adaptation will be required to address impacts that are already unavoidable. Adaptation methods include improved infrastructure design, sustainable water management initiatives, modified agricultural practices, and improved responses to incidents of hazardous weather.
In June 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of a climate change bill. The U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, the first of several Senate committees to do so, is expected to begin consideration of climate change legislation later this month.
A PDF of the full letter sent to the Senate is available for download via the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Signatories on the letter include:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Chemical Society
American Geophysical Union
American Institute of Biological Sciences
American Meteorological Society
American Society of Agronomy
American Society of Plant Biologists
American Statistical Association
Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
Botanical Society of America
Crop Science Society of America
Ecological Society of America
Natural Science Collections Alliance
Organization of Biological Field Stations
Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
Society of Systematic Biologists
Soil Science Society of America
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research manages the National Center for Atmospheric Research under sponsorship by the National Science Foundation. Any opinions, findings and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.