Thirty-one top scientific societies speak with one voice on global climate change

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Read the consensus letter (pdf)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 11:00 am EDT Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Media Contacts: Ginger Pinholster, AAAS, 202-326-6421, gpinhols@aaas.org, Joan Buhrman, AGU, 202-777-7509,  jbuhrman@agu.org; Kasey S. White, GSA, 202-669-0466, kwhite@geosociety.org

 

In a consensus letter to U.S. policymakers, a partnership of 31 leading nonpartisan scientific societies today reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change, noting that greenhouse gas emissions “must be substantially reduced” to minimize negative impacts on the global economy, natural resources, and human health.

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research concludes that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver,” the collaborative said in its 28 June letter to Members of Congress. “This conclusion is based on multiple independent lines of evidence and the vast body of peer-reviewed science.”

Climate-change impacts in the United States have already included increased threats of extreme weather events, sea-level rise, water scarcity, heat waves, wildfires, and disturbances to ecosystems and animals, the intersociety group reported. “The severity of climate change impacts is increasing and is expected to increase substantially in the coming decades,” the letter added. It cited the scientific consensus of the vast majority of individual climate scientists and virtually every leading scientific organization in the world, including the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the U.S. National Academies, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the American Statistical Association, the Ecological Society of America, and the Geological Society of America.

“To reduce the risk of the most severe impacts of climate change, greenhouse gas emissions must be substantially reduced,” the group said, adding that adaptation is also necessary to “address unavoidable consequences for human health and safety, food security, water availability, and national security, among others.”

The 28 June letter, representing a broad range of scientific disciplines, reaffirmed the key climate-change messages in a 2009 letter signed by 18 leading scientific organizations. The letter is being released again, by a larger consortium of 31 scientific organizations, to reassert the scientific consensus on climate change, and to provide objective, authoritative information to policymakers who must work toward solutions.

“Climate change is real and happening now, and the United States urgently needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said AAAS Chief Executive Officer Rush Holt, executive publisher of the Science family of journals. “We must not delay, ignore the evidence, or be fearful of the challenge. America has provided global leadership to successfully confront many environmental problems, from acid rain to the ozone hole, and we can do it again. We owe no less to future generations.”

The 28 June letter was signed by leaders of the following organizations:

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • American Chemical Society
  • American Geophysical Union
  • American Institute of Biological Sciences
  • American Meteorological Society
  • American Public Health Association
  • American Society of Agronomy
  • American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
  • American Society of Naturalists
  • American Society of Plant Biologists
  • American Statistical Association
  • Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography
  • Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation
  • Association of Ecosystem Research Centers
  • BioQUEST Curriculum Consortium
  • Botanical Society of America
  • Consortium for Ocean Leadership
  • Crop Science Society of America
  • Ecological Society of America
  • Entomological Society of America
  • Geological Society of America
  • National Association of Marine Laboratories
  • Natural Science Collections Alliance
  • Organization of Biological Field Stations
  • Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics
  • Society for Mathematical Biology
  • Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
  • Society of Nematologists
  • Society of Systematic Biologists
  • Soil Science Society of America
  • University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

 

Leaders of participating organizations offered the following comments:

“Climate change has far-reaching implications to everyone on our planet, as it is tied closely with national security, economics, human health, and food security. There is consensus in the scientific community – climate is changing. Now we need policymakers to act, to invest in research to understand the effects of climate change and opportunities to mitigate its drivers, and to adapt to its impacts.”

— RADM Jonathan W. White, USN (Ret.), president and CEO, Consortium for Ocean Leadership

 

“Climate change poses significant challenges to natural and managed ecosystems. Now is the time for scientists and policy-makers to work together to address the issue of climate change in order to protect agricultural productivity, global food security and environmental resources.”

— Harold van Es, president, Soil Science Society of America

 

“The environmental, social, and economic challenges posed by climate change are among the most important issues of our time. Comprehensive solutions grounded in understanding of ecological systems – our lands, waters, oceans, and atmosphere — and society are urgently needed. A sustainable future remains possible if we work together and act now.”

— Monica G. Turner, president, Ecological Society of America

 

“This letter, signed by a diverse set of scientific organizations, conveys the solid scientific consensus view that anthropogenic climate change is occurring. How climate change will manifest for specific geographic regions within the next decade and beyond is a topic of intense research. Statisticians are experts in making decisions when specifics aren’t clear and stand ready to work with decision-makers.” 

— Jessica Utts, president, American Statistical Association

 

“Geological studies have demonstrated that climate has changed repeatedly in the past and that future climate change is inevitable.  Understanding the complex processes involved in climate change is necessary for adaptation and mitigation.”
— Jonathan G. Price, Ph.D., CPG, President, Geological Society of America

 

“The reality of climate change is already upon us, and is affecting not only our lives but that of all life on earth. We must do all that we can to mitigate these effects using scientific knowledge and mobilizing society for action. It is the responsibility of our politicians to move us forward in these actions.”

—Dr. Robin L. Chazdon, executive director of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation,

 

“The phenomenon of human-mediated climate change is not a matter of opinion, but of careful evaluation of data from a vast spectrum of scientific disciplines.  What remains unclear is the degree to which climate change will cause environmental, social, and economic havoc.  Estimates range from severe to catastrophic.  We owe it to our children and to our children’s children to take bold action now so that our descendants do not pay the price for our generation’s greed.”

— Anne D. Yoder, president, Society of Systematic Biologists

 

 “Climate change is one of the most profound challenges facing our society. Consensus on this matter is evident in the diversity of organizations that have signed this letter. Science can be a powerful tool in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and we stand ready to work with policymakers as they deliberate various options for action.”
— Christine McEntee, executive director/CEO of the American Geophysical Union

 

“Climate influences where plants and animals live. Rapid climate change will force species to find new habitat in hospitable conditions, but many species will not be able to and will go extinct. This isn’t good. It disrupts our ecosystems, which are the source for our food, and clean air and water.”

— Robert Gropp, Ph.D., interim co-executive director, American Institute of Biological Sciences


The Ecological Society of America, founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes six journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Ecological Society of America Responds to Pope Francis’ Encyclical, LAUDATO SI: ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 29, 2015
Contact: Liza Lester, 202-833-8773 ext. 211, LLester@esa.org

The following statement is attributable to the Ecological Society of America (ESA), President-elect Monica G. Turner, PhD, President David W. Inouye, PhD and Immediate Past-president Jill S. Baron, PhD. ESA represents nearly 10,000 professional ecologists in the US.

ESA President-elect Monica Turner headshot

ESA President-elect Monica Turner

Colorado State University

ESA Past-president Jill Baron

ESA President David Inouye

ESA President David Inouye

WASHINGTON, DC — “The Ecological Society of America commends Pope Francis for his insightful encyclical on the environment. Addressed to everyone on this planet, the letter issued on 18 June 2015 is an eloquent plea for responsible Earth stewardship. The pope is clearly informed by the science underpinning today’s environmental challenges. The encyclical deals directly with climate change, its potential effects on humanity and disproportionate consequences for the poor, and the need for intergenerational equity. The document is remarkable for its breadth, as it also addresses pollution, overuse of natural resources, landscape change, sense of place, and the loss of biodiversity. The pope recognizes that slow rates of change can mask the seriousness of environmental problems and the urgency to act. Pope Francis also acknowledges the importance of all taxa and all levels of biodiversity in sustaining our global commons.

“In addition to drawing attention to global change, we are very pleased to see a world leader of his stature advocate strongly for ecological research and education. Pope Francis writes, ‘Greater investment needs to be made in research aimed at understanding more fully the functioning of ecosystems and adequately analyzing the different variables associated with any significant modification of the environment.’ At a time when science is woefully politicized, the pope stresses the importance of unfettered research, stating that ‘… it is essential to give researchers their due role, to facilitate their interactions, and to ensure broad academic freedom.’ Noting that education is fundamental to change, the pope – an experienced teacher himself – advocates passionately for ecological education at all levels. We firmly agree with these sentiments, which align well with the mission of the Ecological Society of America.

“Today’s environmental dilemmas require bold responses, and the pope suggests actions to sustain ecosystems at local to global scales. He sees the need for comprehensive solutions solidly grounded in understanding of nature and society. Because there is no single path to sustainability, he sees generating viable future scenarios as necessary to stimulate dialogue toward finding solutions. We concur.

“Science and religion offer different but complementary ways of engaging the world around us. Ecologists produce fundamental understanding that helps to meet the challenges outlined so well by Pope Francis, such as planning a sustainable and diversified agriculture, promoting better management of marine and forest resources, and providing universal access to drinking water. Support for these goals by religion will facilitate their achievement. We thank Pope Francis for entering into this discussion. We hope his leadership will lead to serious dialogue among – and action by –the world’s religious, political and scientific leaders on the environmental challenges facing this and future generations of humanity.”


The Ecological Society of America (ESA), founded in 1915, is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge, committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes six journals and a membership bulletin and broadly shares ecological information through policy, media outreach, and education initiatives. The Society’s Annual Meeting attracts 4,000 attendees and features the most recent advances in ecological science. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

Preparing for the effects of a changing climate: Ecologists unwrap the science in the National Climate Assessment

Findings from The Third National Climate Assessment Report (released in spring 2014) will be presented at the Ecological Society of America’s 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento, Cal., August 10–15.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 5, 2014
Contact: Alison Mize (703) -625-3628; alison@esa.org
Liza Lester (202) 833-8773 x 211; llester@esa.org

 

Two Ignite sessions focusing on findings in the United States National Climate Assesment5 (NCA) will take place on Monday, August 11th during the Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting, held this year in Sacramento, California.

The first session, Ignite 1: From Plains to Oceans to Islands: Regional Findings from the Third National Climate Assessment will highlight major findings from the report about the regional effects of climate change, discuss impacts to the ecosystems of the region, and explore how changes in those ecosystems can moderate or exacerbate the impacts of climate change when coupled with other socioeconomic and demographic shifts.

Report authors will discuss key findings from each of the ten regions: Northeast, Southeast and Caribbean, Midwest, Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, Hawai‘i and U.S. Affiliated Pacific Islands, Coasts, and Oceans and Marine Resources.

In the second session, Ignite 2: From Mountains to Coasts: Ecosystems in the Third National Climate Assessment  major findings from the report about climate change’s effects on ecosystems and sectors of concern are presented. NCA authors will discuss the numerous impacts of climate change on ecosystems, including shifts in biodiversity and location of species, disruptions in ecosystem structures and functions, inability of ecosystems to adapt to change, and alterations to the capacity of ecosystems to moderate the consequences of disturbances.

Ecosystems provide a rich array of benefits and services to humanity, including habitat for fish and wildlife, drinking water storage and filtration, fertile soils for growing crops, buffering against a range of stressors including climate change impacts, and aesthetic and cultural values.

Because of the importance of ecosystems to humanity, climate change impacts will affect the fisheries, drinking water, air quality, croplands, and iconic species and landscapes that support jobs, economic growth, health, and human well-being.

“As an ecologist, you can’t escape the effects of climate change on natural resources. We’re observing climate impacts in nearly all natural and managed ecosystems,” said Ecological Society of America President Jill Baron, an ecosystem scientist with the US Geological Survey in Fort Collins, Col., and a contributor to the NCA. “In order to protect biodiversity and the natural resources that we rely on, we need to be developing policy now. The National Climate Assessment provides guidelines for how to respond and adapt.”

The NCA collects, integrates, and assesses observations and research from around the country, helping to show how the climate is changing and what it means for the communities, states, and regions in which we live.

The NCA report is the most comprehensive assessment of climate change science, impacts, and responses in the United States to date. It analyzes the current and future impacts of climate change the United States and summarizes key risks and opportunities for each of ten regions.

Evidence for climate change abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans. Scientists and engineers from around the world have meticulously collected this evidence, using satellites and networks of weather balloons, thermometers, buoys, and other observing systems. Evidence of climate change is also visible in the observed and measured changes in location and behavior of species and functioning of ecosystems.

Taken together, this evidence tells an unambiguous story: the planet is warming, and over the last half century, this warming has been driven primarily by human activity. U.S. average temperature has increased by 1.3°F to 1.9°F since 1895, and most of this increase has occurred since 1970. Temperatures are projected to rise another 2°F to 4°F in most areas of the United States over the next few decades. The magnitude of climate change beyond the next few decades depends primarily on the amount of heat-trapping gases emitted globally, and how sensitive the Earth’s climate is to those emissions.

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Ecological Society of America’s 99th Annual Meeting, August 10–15th, 2014, in Sacramento, Cal.

Main * Program * Press Information * App

 

Scientific assessments like The National Climate Assessment report are essential tools for linking science and decision making. It is used by the U.S. Government, citizens, communities, and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the future. Credit/USGCRP

Scientific assessments like The National Climate Assessment report are essential tools for linking science and decision making. It is used by the U.S. Government, citizens, communities, and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the future. Credit, USGCRP.

Ignite 1: From Plains to Oceans to Islands: Regional Findings from the Third National Climate Assessment
Monday, August 11, 2014: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM, Room 313, Sacramento Convention Center
Organizer: Emily Therese Cloyd

Ignite 2: From Mountains to Coasts: Ecosystems in the Third National Climate Assessment
Monday, August 11, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM, 313, Sacramento Convention Center
Organizer: Rebecca J. Aicher
Co-organizer: Emily Therese Cloyd

Resources:

  • Third National Climate Assessment report, data, and tools (website)
  • Special Issue: Impacts of climate change on biodiversity, ecosystems, and ecosystem services. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 11(9) November, 2013 (open access). Summary.
  • SH Julius et al. Climate change and U.S. natural resources: advancing the nation’s capability to adapt. Issues in Ecology, Fall 2013. (pdf)

 

 

The Ecological Society of America is the world’s largest community of professional ecologists and a trusted source of ecological knowledge. ESA is committed to advancing the understanding of life on Earth. The 10,000 member Society publishes five journals, convenes an annual scientific conference, and broadly shares ecological information through policy and media outreach and education initiatives. Visit the ESA website at http://www.esa.org.

 

To subscribe to ESA press releases, contact Liza Lester at llester@esa.org.