Warning that the risk of dangerous climate change impacts is growing with every ton of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere, a National Research Council committee has reiterated the pressing need for substantial action to limit the magnitude of climate change and to prepare to adapt to its impacts.
The nation's options for responding to the risks posed by climate change are analyzed in a new report and the final volume in America's Climate Choices, a series of studies requested by Congress. The committee that authored the report included not only renowned scientists and engineers but also economists, business leaders, an ex-governor, a former congressman, and other policy experts.
"The goal of the America's Climate Choices studies is to ensure that climate decisions are informed by the best possible scientific knowledge, analysis, and advice, both now and in the future," said committee chair Albert Carnesale, chancellor emeritus and professor, University of California, Los Angeles.
The new report reaffirms that the preponderance of scientific evidence points to human activities -- especially the release of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere -- as the most likely cause for most of the global warming that has occurred over the last several decades. This trend cannot be explained by natural factors such as internal climate variability or changes in incoming energy from the sun. The report adds that the impacts of climate change on human and natural systems can generally be expected to intensify with warming.
While it recognized that climate change is inherently a global issue requiring an international response, the committee focused on the charge from Congress to identify steps and strategies that U.S. decision makers could adopt now. A coordinated national response to climate change, which the country currently lacks, is needed and should be guided by an iterative risk management framework in which actions taken can be revised as new knowledge is gained.
The America's Climate Choices project was requested by Congress and is funded by NOAA. The latest report is available now through the National Academies Press.
Learn more about the report's findings:
ACC Final Report: Report in Brief (PDF)
ACC Final Report: Key Findings (PDF)