To the Editor:
John McClaughry is right (OPED posted 06/13/2016) that people without a science background can find it hard to know what is going on with climate change. Thousands of scientific papers are published every year on the subject and related topics, which touch on agriculture, migration, energy, disaster management, urban planning and many more, as well as atmospheric physics. That is why the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up in 1988: to tell us what we know – and what we don't know – about climate change, its impacts and possible risks, and ways of dealing with it. The IPCC provides a summary of the state of scientific knowledge, but also points out where scientists disagree, or where more information is needed.
The IPCC, which draws on scientists from all over the world, including a large contingent from the United States, doesn't have an agenda – our aim is to summarize the state of knowledge accurately and objectively. While Mr McClaughry calls us alarmist, other people criticize us for being too cautious! The fact is that every part of the world is already seeing damaging impacts of climate change, and it's only prudent to consider how we can deal with what may happen in the future and prevent it from getting worse. Individuals, businesses and communities – and governments – are debating what the best policies are to tackle climate change. And businesses, including energy companies, will surely play a part in developing and carrying out solutions. But there is no debate as to whether the climate is changing or what is causing it. The last report of the IPCC ("the Fifth Assessment Report"), which was produced by 830 authors, supported by hundreds of other contributing authors and thousands of expert reviewers, and cited over 30,000 scientific publications, found the following:
Human influence on the climate is clear.
The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.
We have the means to limit climate change and build a more prosperous, sustainable future.
Head of Communications