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“Climate Change is Real: We Are Causing It”

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  • June 24, 2011
  • 9:08 am
“Climate Change is Real: We Are Causing It”

An “Open Letter” from leading Australian scientists (list below):

The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes.

Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.

Like it or not, humanity is facing a problem that is unparalleled in its scale and complexity. The magnitude of the problem was given a chilling focus in the most recent report of the International Energy Agency, which their chief economist characterised as the “worst news on emissions.”

Limiting global warming to 2°C is now beginning to look like a nearly insurmountable challenge.

Like all great challenges, climate change has brought out the best and the worst in people.

A vast number of scientists, engineers, and visionary businessmen are boldly designing a future that is based on low-impact energy pathways and living within safe planetary boundaries; a future in which substantial health gains can be achieved by eliminating fossil-fuel pollution; and a future in which we strive to hand over a liveable planet to posterity.

At the other extreme, understandable economic insecurity and fear of radical change have been exploited by ideologues and vested interests to whip up ill-informed, populist rage, and climate scientists have become the punching bag of shock jocks and tabloid scribes.

Aided by a pervasive media culture that often considers peer-reviewed scientific evidence to be in need of “balance” by internet bloggers, this has enabled so-called “skeptics” to find a captive audience while largely escaping scrutiny.

Australians have been exposed to a phony public debate which is not remotely reflected in the scientific literature and community of experts.

Beginning today, The Conversation will bring much-needed and long-overdue accountability to the climate “skeptics.”

For the next two weeks, our series of daily analyses will show how they can side-step the scientific literature and how they subvert normal peer review. They invariably ignore clear refutations of their arguments and continue to promote demonstrably false critiques.

We will show that “skeptics” often show little regard for truth and the critical procedures of the ethical conduct of science on which real skepticism is based.

The individuals who deny the balance of scientific evidence on climate change will impose a heavy future burden on Australians if their unsupported opinions are given undue credence.

The signatories below jointly authored this article, and some may also contribute to the forthcoming series of analyses.

Winthrop Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow, UWA

Dr. Matthew Hipsey, Research Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Environment, Centre of Excellence for Ecohydrology, UWA

Dr Julie Trotter, Research Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Environment, UWA Oceans Institute, UWA
Winthrop Professor Malcolm McCulloch, F.R.S., Premier’s Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Professor Kevin Judd, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UWA

Dr Thomas Stemler, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UWA

Dr. Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll, Senior Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Dr. Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleoclimate scientist, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Research School of Earth Science, Planetary Science Institute, ANU

Prof Michael Ashley, School of Physics, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof David Karoly, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Prof John Abraham, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, University of St. Thomas

Prof Ian Enting, ARC Centre for Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems, University of Melbourne

Prof John Wiseman, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Ben Newell, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Matthew England, co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr Alex Sen Gupta Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof. Mike Archer AM, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Steven Sherwood, co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr. Katrin Meissner, ARC Future Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr Jason Evans, ARC Australian Research Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, UQ

Dr Andy Hogg, Fellow, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU

Prof John Quiggin, School of Economics, School of Political Science & Intnl Studies, UQ

Prof Chris Turney FRSA FGS FRGS, Climate Change Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW

Dr Gab Abramowitz, Lecturer, Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Andy Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Barry Brook, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, University of Adelaide

Prof Mike Sandiford, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Dr Michael Box, Associate Professor, School of Physics, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Corey Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modelling, The Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide

Dr Paul Dargusch, School of Agriculture & Food Science, UQ

Prof Nigel Tapper, Professor Environmental Science, School of Geography and Environmental Science Monash University

Prof Jason Beringer, Associate Professor & Deputy Dean of Research, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

Prof Neville Nicholls, Professorial Fellow, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

Prof Dave Griggs, Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University

Prof Peter Sly, Medicine Faculty, School of Paediatrics & Child Health, UQ

Dr Pauline Grierson, Senior Lecturer, School of Plant Biology, Ecosystems Research Group, Director of West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre, UWA

Prof Jurg Keller, IWA Fellow, Advanced Water Management Centre, UQ

Prof Amanda Lynch, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

Prof Steve Siems, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Prof Justin Brookes, Director, Water Research Centre, The University of Adelaide

Prof Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability, Director: Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), Murdoch University

Winthrop Professor Steven Smith, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, UWA

Dr Kerrie Unsworth, School of Business, UWA

Dr Pieter Poot, Assistant Professor in Plant Conservation Biology, School of Plant Biology, UWA

Adam McHugh, Lecturer, School of Engineering and Energy, Murdoch University

Dr Louise Bruce, Research Associate, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

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This post first appeared at Climate Progress, a project of the Center for American Progress.

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5:37PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

Leaning no, because America, the strongest country in the world, is not behind it. We "could" listen to the scientists, but a large contingent of repubs chooses to demonize the concept of humans primarily causing climate change/global warming. I mean who do you want to believe? -- those pesky scientists? or Rick Perry, who says they're in it to make a buck?!

2:18AM PDT on Jul 4, 2011

Interesting Thanks

12:34PM PDT on Jun 30, 2011

These stories always remind me of "Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet" by Mark Lynas. A very smart book, but very scary to read.

11:33PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Rob K, we could have that "Made in USA" requirement automatically if we make the projects government contracts. I read in an article last night or the night before, that some company is being sued for violation of a 1933 law requiring American-made materials to be used for projects done under government contract. How cool is that?? :) Wish I could remember where I saw it, or who the company was. We ought to keep our eyes on it.

11:26PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

It would be nice if Care2 would stop you when you've hit the limit, or if I could remember to do a word count before I submit my comment.

What I was going to say was, No way could I possibly afford to go solar on my own, nor would my effort make any difference in the big picture if I could. Only the deep pockets of government, or the deeper pockets of Big Business, can save us from this mess. I know, I don't much like them either - they've both been Bad Boys lately - but they're the only ones who have the funds to make it happen.

11:20PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Grace A, thank you for the scientist's view! Been too long since I was up-to-date in relevant fields, and I didn't want to make statements that might be incorrect, but what you says agrees precisely with my knowledge/instincts. And I think your solution may, ultimately, be the only one that will save us.

Rob K, ever hear of "killing the goose that lays the golden eggs"? That's what the oil industry is, or could be, if we encourage it in the right direction instead of trying to chop off its head. The oil moguls aren't in love with fossil fuels - they're in love with profit. Profit pays their salaries and keeps them in positions of power, which satisfies their egos. Make it possible to profit more off alternative energy than fossil fuels, and they'll switch over as fast as they can build the infrastructure. They're "dipping their toes in the water" now, and all they need is the right encouragement - not a shove into the deep end to sink or swim.

Michael C, I'm not sure I correctly understand your line about "I would like to go solar but i am waiting until the prices fall." Are you saying that people who don't have thousands to sink into their own solar power aren't serious about fighting climate change? I'm living entirely off Social Security (my career path never led to a pension, only a series of "retirement funds" that got eaten up between jobs). No way could I possibly afford to go solar on my own, nor would my effort make any difference in the big picture i

11:10AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Rob K. says 'Besides the U.S Supreme Court would probably rule that my idea violates the oil industry's "human rights." '

Brilliant statement!!!!!

7:32AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Grace A.,your last idea has merit in that it could be a huge jobs creator,as long as it includes a 100% "made in the USA" requirement. Although I'd prefer that it create new companies,instead rewarding the oil companies for their excessive profiteering,while paying very little taxes. In fact,maybe the only part the oil companies should play in all this is to be heavily taxed on excessive profits they mainly stash away as a means of building this new ,green energy economy. Not that I'm holding my breath waiting for this to happen,given the oil industry's ability to just bribe the politicians out of doing so. Besides the U.S Supreme Court would probably rule that my idea violates the oil industry's "human rights."

4:26AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Science doesn't do proof. Due to quantum theory, nothing will sit still long enough to be measured really precisely. Science does only confidence intervals. Science is 99.9% sure that global average temperatures are in an upward trend. Science is 99% sure that BOTH natural variation (Milankovitch cycles and natural variance in solar radiance) and human activity are contributing factors in climate change. Science is also 99% sure that greenhouse gases and albedo (what % of sunlight gets reflected back into space) are the only two factors that humans can affect enough to influence climate change. Politically, USA's best shot at reducing greenhouse gas emissions would be to massively bribe the fossil fuel firms to turn themselves into renewable energy firms with big fat juicy federal contracts to invest in renewable energy sources.

7:52AM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Lindy E, Your observations are just about the most honest, really scary but honest. Your assertions are absolutely correct, especially about all that "Kum By Ya", we see in the post.

"I recycle when i can, i traded my car in for one that gets better mileage. I would like to go solar but i am waiting until the prices fall.

Just about 95% of all people are the problem, perhaps 60%+of those are plainly ignorant of what their actions have caused, the remaining 35% just don't care. They certainly have allowed themselves to develop a false reasoning to believe that Global Climate Change (GCC) is either a hoax or a lie. Besides, among that 60%, the peoples of Africa, Bangladesh and others, their actions are somewhat benign, compared to the impact of the Western world.

So let us imagine, what if that 60% were to reversed their thinking and went on to educate the remaining 35%, oh, darn, we're still screwed. Something about to little, too late.

Each day, the newspapers, the internet, are full of stories about mans efforts in combatting GCC. Yet, if you examine the true benefit, it amounts to 1%, of the overall problem.

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