Scientific Consensus on Global Warming

Scientific societies and scientists have released statements and studies showing the growing consensus on climate change science. A common objection to taking action to reduce our heat-trapping emissions has been uncertainty within the scientific community on whether or not global warming is happening and if it is caused by humans. However, there is now an overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is indeed happening and humans are contributing to it. Below are links to documents and statements attesting to this consensus. 

 Scientific Societies

  • Statement on climate change from 18 scientific associations

    "Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver." (October, 2009)

  • American Meteorological Society: Climate Change: An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society

    "It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases." (August 2012)

  • American Physical Society: Statement on Climate Change

    "The evidence is incontrovertible: Global warming is occurring. If no mitigating actions are taken, significant disruptions in the Earth’s physical and ecological systems, social systems, security and human health are likely to occur. We must reduce emissions of greenhouse gases beginning now." (November 2007)

  • American Geophysical Union: Human Impacts on Climate

    "The Earth's climate is now clearly out of balance and is warming. Many components of the climate system—including the temperatures of the atmosphere, land and ocean, the extent of sea ice and mountain glaciers, the sea level, the distribution of precipitation, and the length of seasons—are now changing at rates and in patterns that are not natural and are best explained by the increased atmospheric abundances of greenhouse gases and aerosols generated by human activity during the 20th century." (Adopted December 2003, Revised and Reaffirmed December 2007)

  • American Association for the Advancement of Science: AAAS Board Statement on Climate Change

    "The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society." (December 2006)

  • Geological Society of America: Global Climate Change

    "The Geological Society of America (GSA) supports the scientific conclusions that Earth’s climate is changing; the climate changes are due in part to human activities; and the probable consequences of the climate changes will be significant and blind to geopolitical boundaries."  (October 2006)

  • American Chemical Society: Statement on Global Climate Change

    "There is now general agreement among scientific experts that the recent warming trend is real (and particularly strong within the past 20 years), that most of the observed warming is likely due to increased atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations, and that climate change could have serious adverse effects by the end of this century." (July 2004)

National Science Academies

  • U.S. National Academy of Sciences: Understanding and Responding to Climate Change (pdf)

    "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify taking steps to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere." (2005)

  • International academies: Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change (pdf)

    "Climate change is real. There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring." (2005, 11 national academies of science)

  • International academiesThe Science of Climate Change 

    "Despite increasing consensus on the science underpinning predictions of global climate change, doubts have been expressed recently about the need to mitigate the risks posed by global climate change. We do not consider such doubts justified." (2001, 16 national academies of science)

Research

  • National Research Council of the National Academies, America’s Climate Choices

    "Most of the recent warming can be attributed to fossil fuel burning and other human activities that release carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere." America's Climate Choices, Advancing the Science of Climate Change, 2010

  • U.S. Climate Change Research Program, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009)

    "Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced. Global temperature has increased over the past 50 years. This observed increase is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases."

  • Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Peter T. Doran and Maggie Kendall Zimmerman

    "It seems that the debate on the authenticity of global warming and the role played by human activity is largely nonexistent among those who understand the nuances and scientific basis of long-term climate processes."

    Doran surveyed 10,257 Earth scientists. Thirty percent responded to the survey which asked: 1. When compared with pre-1800s levels, do you think that mean global temperatures have generally risen, fallen, or remained relatively constant? and 2. Do you think human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures?

  • Beyond the Ivory Tower: The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change, Naomi Oreskes

    "Oreskes analyzed 928 abstracts published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003 and listed in the ISI database with the keywords 'climate change.'... Of all the papers, 75 percent either explicitly or implicitly accepted the consensus view that global warming is happening and humans are contributing to it; 25 percent dealt with methods or ancient climates, taking no position on current anthropogenic [human-caused] climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position."

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

  • Climate Change 2007: The Physical Science Basis, IPCC, 2007. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Solomon, S., D. Qin, M. Manning, Z. Chen, M. Marquis, K.B. Averyt, M.Tignor and H.L. Miller (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.

    “Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global average sea level”

    “Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

    IPCC defines "very likely" as greater than 90% probability of occurrence.

Sign-on Statements

  • The Importance of Science in Addressing Climate Change: Scientists’ letter to the U.S. Congress. Statement signed by 18 scientists.
    "We want to assure you that the science is strong and that there is nothing abstract about the risks facing our Nation." (2011)

  • Climate Change and the Integrity of Science
    Signed by 255 members of the National Academy of Sciences. "... For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet. ... The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. ...Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation." (2010)

  • U.S. Scientists and Economists' Call for Swift and Deep Cuts in Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    "We call on our nation's leaders to swiftly establish and implement policies to bring about deep reductions in heat-trapping emissions. The strength of the science on climate change compels us to warn the nation about the growing risk of irreversible consequences as global average temperatures continue to increase over pre-industrial levels (i.e. prior to 1860). As temperatures rise further, the scope and severity of global warming impacts will continue to accelerate." (2008)

  • Increase Your Leadership on Global Warming: A Letter from California Scientists

    "If emissions continue unabated, the serious consequences of a changing climate for California are likely to include a striking increase in extreme heat and heat-related mortality, significant reductions in Sierra snowpack with severe impacts on water supply, mounting challenges to agricultural production, and sea-level rise leading to more widespread erosion of California’s beaches and coastline." (2005)