Saturday, June 27, 2009

Viewpoint: Humans Cause Warming

MIAMI — The science behind climate change is complex, and there still is much to learn. But it’s clear that our climate is undergoing dramatic changes, and there is strong scientific evidence that human activity is the primary cause.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an international body of experts charged with providing a comprehensive, objective and transparent assessment of the science of climate change. I had the privilege of working on the panel’s most recent Fourth Assessment Report.

Our conclusion: The warming of the planet is “unequivocal,” and most of the warming over the past half century is caused by human activity.

The panel is not alone. The U.S. National Academy of Science — the most prestigious scientific organization in our country — has endorsed this conclusion, along with virtually every other mainstream scientific organization of relevance.

Many are surprised or even doubtful that such scientific accord exists, their perceptions of climate change often being shaped by seemingly contradictory media reports or disingenuous internet blogs. But among scientists, there exists a strong and widespread consensus about the reality of climate change.

In the largest poll of scientists’ opinions on climate change ever conducted, more than 80 percent stated that humans were the primary cause of our current warming. More compelling, 97.4 percent of climatologists who actively publish research on the subject agreed that humans are causing the climate to warm.

The results of this poll can be found in the Jan. 19 edition of Eos, a scientific journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Such a consensus is not the product of a worldwide scientific hoax. As a scientist, I can attest that we are not nearly organized or imaginative enough to pull off such a stunt.

The complete article in the Grand Forks Herald can be found here.

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