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Scientists Issue Statement on Climate Change

October 21, 2009

SCIENTIFIC ORGANIZATIONS REAFFIRM CONSENSUS ON CLIMATE CHANGE

Letter Signed by Leading Scientific Societies Sent to Senators

FOR RELEASE, 10:01 AM EDT
Contact: Julie Palakovich Carr, jpal...@aibs.org, 202-628-1500 x 225

WASHINGTON, DC - The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) and other leading scientific organizations have reaffirmed the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and is primarily caused by human activities.

In a statement sent to all U.S. Senators on October 21, 2009, the leaders of 18 scientific organizations stated that "rigorous scientific research" demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the "primary driver" of climate change. "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," the scientists wrote.

Dr. May Berenbaum, President of AIBS, signed the letter on behalf of the society. "The evidence that human activities contribute to global climate change is compellingly consistent and clear; constructive human activities to stem or reverse these changes are now urgently needed," she said.

The letter called attention to the impacts of climate change on human society, the economy, and the environment. The "broad impacts" of climate change include sea level rise, greater threats of extreme weather events, and increased risk of regional water scarcity, wildfires, and the disturbance of biological systems throughout the United States.

"Climate change is surging through and rending Earth's biodiversity," said Dr. William Y. Brown, President of the Natural Science Collections Alliance. "If we do not stem the tide of our own greenhouse gases now, we simply invite and magnify future harm and cost."

"[T]o avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced," the letter stated. "In addition, adaptation will be necessary to address those impacts that are already unavoidable."

The impact of climate change on natural resources and biological systems will be profound.

"Climate change is real, and plants know it. Plants that could once grow only south of central Ohio can now grow north of Detroit," said Dr. Kent Holsinger, President of the Botanical Society of America. "Warmer temperatures also lead to earlier flowering, which can disrupt pollinator interactions leading to declines of both plants and pollinators." The consequences will be significant for our food supply, which depends upon plants and their pollinators.

Dr. Brian D. Kloeppel, President of the Organization of Biological Field Stations, warned: "Climate change will continue to have dramatic impacts on both temperate and boreal forests as rising temperatures increase carbon dioxide efflux from forest soils. The resulting feedback on the distribution and productivity of these forest ecosystems as water resources fluctuate could be dramatic."

The scientific organizations that sent the letter represent the breadth of the scientific community. Collectively, these organizations serve more than 10 million scientists. Ten AIBS member organizations have already signed the statement.

To read the complete statement, please visit Climate_Science_Letter_final_10.21.2009.pdf.

Read more AIBS Position Statements

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