September 30, 2010

Top UK Science Agency Releases Climate Change Guide

The UK's national academy of science, the Royal Society, has released a new guide covering the science of climate change--a guide that, according to the organization's website, was written "to summarize the evidence and to clarify the levels of confidence associated with the current scientific understanding of climate change."

The report, entitled 'Climate Change: A Summary of the Science,' states that there is "strong evidence" that the increase of global temperatures over the past 50 years is mainly the fault of man's activities, including deforestation and the burning of fossil fuels. However, while is asserts that there are many areas where scientific evidence of climate change is "well established," there are others where there remains "substantial uncertainty" as well.

Furthermore, the report says that "changes in climate have significant implications for present lives, for future generations and for ecosystems on which humanity depends. Consequently, climate change has been and continues to be the subject of intensive scientific research and public debate."

"The size of future temperature increases and other aspects of climate change, especially at the regional scale, are still subject to uncertainty," the authors of the Royal Society paper write. "Nevertheless, the risks associated with some of these changes are substantial. It is important that decision makers have access to climate science of the highest quality, and can take account of its findings in formulating appropriate responses."

The 19-page report can be downloaded in PDF format through the organization's official website. It was prepared by a working group chaired by Professor John Pethica, Vice President of the Royal Society. Members of the group included many leading international scientists, according to the group's website, and the authors also sought input from a wide array of experts.

"Much of the public debate on climate change is polarized at present, which can make it difficult to get a good overview of the science," Pethica said in a statement Thursday, adding that the Royal Society's report "explains where the science is clear and established, and also where it is less certain. It is not a simple guide, as this is not a simple issue. This summary has been produced for all who want to understand the full range of the scientific evidence."

According to BBC News reports, part of the reason for the publication of the guide was because of complaints received by 43 Royal Society members, who feared that a previous guide written in 2007 failed to properly acknowledge where there were areas of uncertainty. That guide, which was described by Science Correspondent Pallab Ghosh as "a point-by-point rebuttal of arguments put forward by those who doubt climate change is man-made," was seen as "too strident."


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