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The Science of Global Climate Change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an international scientific body established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to “assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change.”

In 2007, the IPCC published Climate Change 2007: Synthesis Report, the culmination of six years of work by 450+ lead authors, 800+ contributing authors, 2500+ scientific expert reviewers from 130 countries.  In the Report, the IPCC concluded that “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” and that “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG [greenhouse gas] concentration” (emphasis in original).  This position has been independently corroborated by other scientific bodies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Their findings have also been accepted by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, who in their 2001 document Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good stated:
“[W]e accept the consensus findings of so many scientists and the conclusions of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a basis for continued research and prudent action.”

Pontifical Academy of Sciences: A working group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, one of the oldest scientific institutes in the world, issued a sobering report (5/6/2011) on the impacts for humankind as a result of the global retreat of mountain glaciers as a result of human activity leading to climate change.  In their declaration, the working group calls, “on all people and nations to recognize the serious and potentially irreversible impacts of global warming caused by the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants, and by changes in forests, wetlands, grasslands, and other land uses.”  Read Summary (first 5 pages) of the entire report here.   Hear the Working Group co-chair, Veerabhadran Ramanathan interviewed by Coalition director, Dan Misleh.

The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences are planning a joint workshop on sustainability in May 2014.  An official Vatican press release, says:

Contemporary discussions on the questions are now several decades old. If they have remained alive and are frequently shrill, it is because two opposing empirical perspectives shape them. On the one hand, if we look at specific examples of what one may call natural capital, there is convincing evidence that at the rates at which we currently exploit them, they are very likely to change character dramatically with little advance notice. The melting of glaciers and sea-ice are recent symptoms. On the other hand, if we study trends in food consumption, life expectancy, and recorded incomes in regions that are currently rich and in those that are on the way to becoming rich, resource scarcities wouldn’t appear to have bitten so far.

That is why we are proposing a joint PAS-PASS workshop on Sustainable Humanity, Sustainable Nature.
Our idea is not to catalogue environmental problems. We propose instead to view Humanity’s interchanges with Nature through a triplet of fundamental, but inter-related Human needs – Food, Health, and Energy – and ask our respective Academies to work together to invite experts from the natural and the social sciences to speak of the various pathways that both serve those needs and reveal constraints on Nature’s ability to meet them.

 

The National Academies of Science: “The National Academies, which includes the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the National Research Council, provide a unique public service by working outside the framework of government to ensure independent advice on matters of science, technology, and medicine. They enlist committees of the nation’s top scientists, engineers, and other experts, all of whom volunteer their time to study specific concerns.”

Their climate change website offers a variety of resources about climate change and impacts, including their 2008 report “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change“.  See an inspiring video about the work of one arm of the National Academies, the National Research Council, on a comprehensive study “America’s Climate Choices.

Michael MacCracken of the Climate Institute, wrote “The Science of Global Climate Change,” which was published in Faithful Stewards of God’s Creation : a Catholic Resource for Environmental Justice and Climate Change, (2007) from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  The article is a summary of  a presentation to the National Catholic Rural Life Conference (NCRLC) in Washington DC, February 2005, which can be read here.

including their 2008 report “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change”.  See a video about the work of one arm of the National Academies, the National Research Council, on a comprehensive study “America’s Climate Choices.”