“The body of evidence is overwhelming”: Prominent climate scientists issue stark statement

09/17/2013 - Two weeks prior to the launch of the first section of the latest IPCC’s report on climate change, twelve members of the newly established Earth League – a global initiative of prominent climate scientists – have jointly published a stark statement. “The body of evidence indicating that our civilisation has already caused significant global warming is overwhelming,” they argue.
“The body of evidence is overwhelming”: Prominent climate scientists issue stark statement
Clouds and sunglint over the Indian Ocean - the earth seen from space. Photo: NASA

In their concise report, the scientists warn that if we continue on our current path of business-as-usual, devouring fossil fuels and excessively pumping out greenhouse-gases, we are on track to enter into a 4-degrees warmer world this century. “Moreover, powerful feedback processes that very likely will push the warming even higher could be set into irreversible operation.”

A cap of a 2-degree temperature rise was set by the international community as a safe guardrail, though even this was cautioned by many to bring dangerous environmental and human consequences. The report warns a 4-degree rise, however, would set to drastically change our planet. Certain coastlines and whole islands would be submerged by rising sea-levels, and more extreme heat waves will strike regions and provoke yield failures and the loss of lives.

“Although climate science only tells us what might happen and not what to do about it, we authors feel that inaction is an unacceptable prospect,” the scientists state. “Nations go to war, implement mass vaccinations of their populations, and organise expensive insurance and security systems (such as anti-terror measures) to address much fainter threats. However, our societies seem to be willing to impose immense risks on future generations.”

Now, while some say that humanity could not cause a 4-degrees warming by any conceivable means, others declare environmental defeat by maintaining that the international climate-policy goal of confining the planetary warming to less than 2-degrees is already a lost case. Yet there is ample evidence that we can hold a 2-degrees line indeed, the authors point out. Technological advancements show we can realise the “Great Transformation” of global sustainability and research initiatives are rising to face this challenge. However, the evidence demonstrates that the time frame to achieve this is rapidly shrinking. 

Signatories to the report - Earth League members:
Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden
Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
Mario Molina, Centro Mario Molina, Mexico
Brian Hoskins, Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College, UK
Guy Brasseur, Climate Service Center, HZG, Germany
Carlos Nobre, National Institute for Space Research, Brazil
Peter Schlosser, Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA
Veerabhadran Ramanathan, University of California at San Diego, USA
Nebojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA and Vienna University of Technology, Austria
Youba Sokona, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia
Leena Srivastava, TERI University, India
Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute, USA

The full document can be found on the Earth League websitehttp://www.hzg.de/mw/earthleague/036338/index_0036338.html.en