Scientific Consensus | Facts – Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet

Temperature data showing rapid warming in the past few decades, the latest data going up to 2019. According to NASA data, 2016 was the warmest year since 1880, continuing a long-term trend of rising global temperatures. The 10 warmest years in the 140-year record all have occurred since 2005, with the six warmest years being the six most recent years. Credit: NASA/NOAA. Download still image

Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals1 show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree*: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities. In addition, most of the leading scientific organizations worldwide have issued public statements endorsing this position. The following is a partial list of these organizations, along with links to their published statements and a selection of related resources.

AMERICAN SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES

Statement on Climate Change from 18 Scientific Associations

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver.” (2009)2

  • AAAS emblem

    American Association for the Advancement of Science

    “Based on well-established evidence, about 97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused climate change is happening.” (2014)3

  • ACS emblem

    American Chemical Society

    “The Earth’s climate is changing in response to increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (GHGs) and particulate matter in the atmosphere, largely as the result of human activities.” (2016-2019)4

  • AGU emblem

    American Geophysical Union

    “Based on extensive scientific evidence, it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century. There is no alterative explanation supported by convincing evidence.” (2019)5

  • AMA emblem

    American Medical Association

    “Our AMA … supports the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fourth assessment report and concurs with the scientific consensus that the Earth is undergoing adverse global climate change and that anthropogenic contributions are significant.” (2019)6

  • AMS emblem

    American Meteorological Society

    “Research has found a human influence on the climate of the past several decades … The IPCC (2013), USGCRP (2017), and USGCRP (2018) indicate that it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-twentieth century.” (2019)7

  • APS emblem

    American Physical Society

    “Earth’s changing climate is a critical issue and poses the risk of significant environmental, social and economic disruptions around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on global climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century.” (2015)8

  • GSA emblem

    The Geological Society of America

    “The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2011), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (Melillo et al., 2014) that global climate has warmed in response to increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases … Human activities (mainly greenhouse-gas emissions) are the dominant cause of the rapid warming since the middle 1900s (IPCC, 2013).” (2015)9

SCIENCE ACADEMIES

International Academies: Joint Statement

“Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001).” (2005, 11 international science academies)10

  • UNSAS emblem

    U.S. National Academy of Sciences

    “Scientists have known for some time, from multiple lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth’s climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”11

U.S. GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

  • USGCRP emblem

    U.S. Global Change Research Program

    “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities.” (2018, 13 U.S. government departments and agencies)12

INTERGOVERNMENTAL BODIES

  • IPCC emblem

    Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

    “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and since the 1950s, many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia. The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, and sea level has risen.”13

    “Human influence on the climate system is clear, and recent anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases are the highest in history. Recent climate changes have had widespread impacts on human and natural systems.”14

OTHER RESOURCES

List of Worldwide Scientific Organizations

The following page lists the nearly 200 worldwide scientific organizations that hold the position that climate change has been caused by human action.
http://www.opr.ca.gov/facts/list-of-scientific-organizations.html

U.S. Agencies

The following page contains information on what federal agencies are doing to adapt to climate change.
https://www.c2es.org/site/assets/uploads/2012/02/climate-change-adaptation-what-federal-agencies-are-doing.pdf

*Technically, a “consensus” is a general agreement of opinion, but the scientific method steers us away from this to an objective framework. In science, facts or observations are explained by a hypothesis (a statement of a possible explanation for some natural phenomenon), which can then be tested and retested until it is refuted (or disproved).

As scientists gather more observations, they will build off one explanation and add details to complete the picture. Eventually, a group of hypotheses might be integrated and generalized into a scientific theory, a scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.

References​

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