Check With Climate Scientists for Views on Climate
Posted on 2 February 2012 by Kevin Trenberth
In response to the latest denialist plea for climate inaction published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the WSJ has published a response letter from a number of actual climate scientists, which is re-printed below.
Do you consult your dentist about your heart condition? In science, as in any area, reputations are based on knowledge and expertise in a field and on published, peer-reviewed work. If you need surgery, you want a highly experienced expert in the field who has done a large number of the proposed operations.
You published "No Need to Panic About Global Warming" (op-ed, Jan. 27) on climate change by the climate-science equivalent of dentists practicing cardiology. While accomplished in their own fields, most of these authors have no expertise in climate science. The few authors who have such expertise are known to have extreme views that are out of step with nearly every other climate expert. This happens in nearly every field of science. For example, there is a retrovirus expert who does not accept that HIV causes AIDS. And it is instructive to recall that a few scientists continued to state that smoking did not cause cancer, long after that was settled science.
Climate experts know that the long-term warming trend has not abated in the past decade. In fact, it was the warmest decade on record. Observations show unequivocally that our planet is getting hotter. And computer models have recently shown that during periods when there is a smaller increase of surface temperatures, warming is occurring elsewhere in the climate system, typically in the deep ocean. Such periods are a relatively common climate phenomenon, are consistent with our physical understanding of how the climate system works, and certainly do not invalidate our understanding of human-induced warming or the models used to simulate that warming.
Thus, climate experts also know what one of us, Kevin Trenberth, actually meant by the out-of-context, misrepresented quote used in the op-ed. Mr. Trenberth was lamenting the inadequacy of observing systems to fully monitor warming trends in the deep ocean and other aspects of the short-term variations that always occur, together with the long-term human-induced warming trend.
The National Academy of Sciences of the U.S. (set up by President Abraham Lincoln to advise on scientific issues), as well as major national academies of science around the world and every other authoritative body of scientists active in climate research have stated that the science is clear: The world is heating up and humans are primarily responsible. Impacts are already apparent and will increase. Reducing future impacts will require significant reductions in emissions of heat-trapping gases.
Research shows that more than 97% of scientists actively publishing in the field agree that climate change is real and human caused. It would be an act of recklessness for any political leader to disregard the weight of evidence and ignore the enormous risks that climate change clearly poses. In addition, there is very clear evidence that investing in the transition to a low-carbon economy will not only allow the world to avoid the worst risks of climate change, but could also drive decades of economic growth. Just what the doctor ordered.
Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D.
Distinguished Senior Scientist
Climate Analysis Section National Center for Atmospheric Research
La Jolla, Calif.
Kevin Trenberth, Sc.D, Distinguished Senior Scientist, Climate Analysis Section, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Richard Somerville, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Katharine Hayhoe, Ph.D., Director, Climate Science Center, Texas Tech University
Rasmus Benestad, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, The Norwegian Meteorological Institute
Gerald Meehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences; Director, Program in Science, Technology and Environmental Policy, Princeton University
Peter Gleick, Ph.D., co-founder and president, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security
Michael C. MacCracken, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, Climate Institute, Washington
Michael Mann, Ph.D., Director, Earth System Science Center, Pennsylvania State University
Steven Running, Ph.D., Professor, Director, Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, University of Montana
Robert Corell, Ph.D., Chair, Arctic Climate Impact Assessment; Principal, Global Environment Technology Foundation
Dennis Ojima, Ph.D., Professor, Senior Research Scientist, and Head of the Dept. of Interior's Climate Science Center at Colorado State University
Josh Willis, Ph.D., Climate Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Matthew England, Ph.D., Professor, Joint Director of the Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Australia
Ken Caldeira, Ph.D., Atmospheric Scientist, Dept. of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
Warren Washington, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Terry L. Root, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University
David Karoly, Ph.D., ARC Federation Fellow and Professor, University of Melbourne, Australia
Jeffrey Kiehl, Ph.D., Senior Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research
Donald Wuebbles, Ph.D., Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Illinois
Camille Parmesan, Ph.D., Professor of Biology, University of Texas; Professor of Global Change Biology, Marine Institute, University of Plymouth, UK
Simon Donner, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Geography, University of British Columbia, Canada
Barrett N. Rock, Ph.D., Professor, Complex Systems Research Center and Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire
David Griggs, Ph.D., Professor and Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University, Australia
Roger N. Jones, Ph.D., Professor, Professorial Research Fellow, Centre for Strategic Economic Studies, Victoria University, Australia
William L. Chameides, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of the Environment, Duke University
Gary Yohe, Ph.D., Professor, Economics and Environmental Studies, Wesleyan University, CT
Robert Watson, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Chair of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia
Steven Sherwood, Ph.D., Director, Climate Change Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
Chris Rapley, Ph.D., Professor of Climate Science, University College London, UK
Joan Kleypas, Ph.D., Scientist, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research
James J. McCarthy, Ph.D., Professor of Biological Oceanography, Harvard University
Stefan Rahmstorf, Ph.D., Professor of Physics of the Oceans, Potsdam University, Germany
Julia Cole, Ph.D., Professor, Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D., President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Jonathan Overpeck, Ph.D., Professor of Geosciences and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
Eric Rignot, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory; Professor of Earth System Science, University of California, Irvine
Wolfgang Cramer, Professor of Global Ecology, Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology, CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, France