Climate Change? Global Warming? This is About Science…What Are Scientists Thinking?

by Hank Boerner, Chairman, G&A Institute

Climate change.  Real or not?  Global warming. Really?  The argument goes back and forth — is Mother Earth warming? Or perhaps cooling? (Skeptic: Look at this winter weather. What warming?) Is climate change the result of human activities over the past century and longer back than that as individuals and industry and governments pumped ton after ton of emissions up into the atmosphere?

Are the results reversible if human caused?

Today, the prestigious American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) released an important report — What We Know, its assessment of current climate science “that emphasizes the need to understand and recognize possible high-risk scenarios…”

What most of us know as Average Joe’s and Jane’s is that we are experiencing — severe droughts. More severe storms. Melting icebergs. Rising seas. Heat waves. Serious drought. More wildfires than usual in wilderness areas.

Scientists tuned in to climate change have been warning about the gases emitted – the Greenhouse Gasses – that have been poking holes in or dissolving the very important ozone layer that protects humankind and all life from the dangerous ultraviolet rays our wonderful sun sends forth.

The statement from the 120,000-member association is that scientists have developed a solid understanding of how the climate is responding how the climate is responding to the build up of GhG emission and also the uncertainty that exists about the long0term impacts of same.  But many scientists and climate experts agree with the view that we are most likely at a dangerous tipping point in the human experience.

Highlights of the “What We Know” effort as voiced by an AAAS panel and associated scientists: :

–There is (or should be) little issue about climate change in our modern society. It is happening here and now.
–On this, a clear majority of climate scientists agree.
–We are at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes…with very damaging impacts.
–The sooner we are the lower the risk / and cost / and just how much we human can do.
–Scientists may recognize the build up of Greenhouse Gasses (GhGs), but they also recognize the [considerable] uncertainty about the long-run results.

And so, on the last point, the AAAS is embarking on a new initiative to expand the public dialogue about the risks of climate change.

With the brand and reputation behind the campaign (AAAS is the largest general scientific society in the world), the general public and especially policy makers will be hearing more from the scientific community about the issues going forward.

Nobel laureates, academics, scientists, other experts will be speaking out and encouraging all Americans to think about climate change as a risk management issue…one of the most important in our lives even with many other personal and societal issues usually going on around us..

You can do your part. Read the AAAS report. Help spread the word on What We Know. Don’t brush off or ignore the naysayers and climate change deniers. Engage in the discussion. Share available scientific knowledge with them. If you are an investor in a fossil fuel company, press board and management on what the corporate leadership is doing to address the climate change issues (risk management is part of the board’s job).  Ask about the risks for the company (you are an owner– entitled to ask!). Ask political candidates in this 2014 election year where they stand on global warming…or if that makes them or you uncomfortable, on climate change issues. .

The AAAS will be making a new web site available to help in the knowledge-sharing mission. We’ll let you know when we know the URL. Information is available at the association’s web site:

What are your thoughts on climate change? Global warming? How we can address the issues? Share those thoughts!

Closing thought from this writer:  On this small blue marble hanging out in space, when it comes to climate change, we are all in this together, the scientists are saying today. I recall that over the years, looking down from space, the astronauts would remark how fragile (and beautiful) our Spaceship Mother Earth is. . We have to all work all together to keep it that way!  (Isn’t that what the sustainability movement is about?)