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Climate Change Is Real: an open letter from the scientific community

Posted in Movements, Opinion, Research by Kate Archdeacon on June 15th, 2011


Photo: California Academy of Sciences, the line attributed to Wallace Broecker, Scientist, by jinxmcc via flickr CC

The Conversation launches a two-week series from the nation’s top minds on the science behind climate change and the efforts of “sceptics” to cloud the debate.

The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes. Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.

Like it or not, humanity is facing a problem that is unparalleled in its scale and complexity. The magnitude of the problem was given a chilling focus in the most recent report of the International Energy Agency, which their chief economist characterised as the “worst news on emissions.” Limiting global warming to 2°C is now beginning to look like a nearly insurmountable challenge.

Like all great challenges, climate change has brought out the best and the worst in people. A vast number of scientists, engineers, and visionary businessmen are boldly designing a future that is based on low-impact energy pathways and living within safe planetary boundaries; a future in which substantial health gains can be achieved by eliminating fossil-fuel pollution; and a future in which we strive to hand over a liveable planet to posterity. At the other extreme, understandable economic insecurity and fear of radical change have been exploited by ideologues and vested interests to whip up ill-informed, populist rage, and climate scientists have become the punching bag of shock jocks and tabloid scribes. Aided by a pervasive media culture that often considers peer-reviewed scientific evidence to be in need of “balance” by internet bloggers, this has enabled so-called “sceptics” to find a captive audience while largely escaping scrutiny.

Australians have been exposed to a phony public debate which is not remotely reflected in the scientific literature and community of experts. Beginning today [Sunday June 13], The Conversation will bring much-needed and long-overdue accountability to the climate “sceptics.” For the next two weeks, our series of daily analyses will show how they can side-step the scientific literature and how they subvert normal peer review. They invariably ignore clear refutations of their arguments and continue to promote demonstrably false critiques.

We will show that “sceptics” often show little regard for truth and the critical procedures of the ethical conduct of science on which real skepticism is based. The individuals who deny the balance of scientific evidence on climate change will impose a heavy future burden on Australians if their unsupported opinions are given undue credence. The signatories below jointly authored this article, and some may also contribute to the forthcoming series of analyses.

Are you a scientist? Do you agree? If you’d like to add your name to the list, send an email to megan.clement@theconversation.edu.au The next installment in our series is from Karl Braganza at the Bureau of Meteorology. The greenhouse effect is real: here’s why.

Go to the original article on The Conversation to read the list of signatories – it’s far too big to include here!

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