06/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Scientific Society Revises Climate Change Statement; Science Advances

While falsehoods about "Climategate" -- supposedly undermining the scientific theory of global warming -- make headlines globally, it seems doubtful that too many of us will see the following on the front page of our local newspapers.

The Geological Society of America (GSA) has revised its 2006 statement on climate change. The GSA's position statement on climate change is as follows:

Decades of scientific research have shown that climate can change from both natural and anthropogenic causes. The Geological Society of America (GSA) concurs with assessments by the National Academies of Science (2005), the National Research Council (2006), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) that global climate has warmed and that human activities (mainly greenhouse gas emissions) account for most of the warming since the middle 1900s. If current trends continue, the projected increase in global temperature by the end of the twenty-first century will result in large impacts on humans and other species. Addressing the challenges posed by climate change will require a combination of adaptation to the changes that are likely to occur and global reductions of CO2 emissions from anthropogenic sources.

The overall "position statement (1) summarizes the strengthened basis for the conclusion that humans are a major factor responsible for recent global warming; (2) describes the large effects on humans and ecosystems if greenhouse gas concentrations and global climate reach projected levels; and (3) provides information for policy decisions guiding mitigation and adaptation strategies designed to address the future impacts of anthropogenic warming."

The GSA makes a strong statement about scientific advances in terms of understanding climate change:

Scientific advances in the first decade of the 21st century have greatly reduced previous uncertainties about the amplitude and causes of recent global warming.

The position paper makes clear that natural causes cannot explain the warming that we see:

Given the knowledge gained from paleoclimatic studies, several long-term causes of the current warming trend can be eliminated. Changes in Earth's tectonism and its orbit are far too slow to have played a significant role in a rapidly changing 150-year trend. At the other extreme, large volcanic eruptions have cooled global climate for a year or two, and El Niño episodes have warmed it for about a year, but neither factor dominates longer-term trends.

As a result, greenhouse gas concentrations, which can be influenced by human activities, and solar fluctuations are the principal remaining factors that could have changed rapidly enough and lasted long enough to explain the observed changes in global temperature. .... changes in solar irradiance, continuously measured by satellites since 1979, account for less than 10% of the last 150 years of warming.

Greenhouse gases remain as the major explanation.

And, humanity is the culprit behind growing GHG levels in the atmosphere.

The GSA has two sets of recommendations: one for public policy and, the other for its membership.

  • Public policy should include effective strategies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. ...
  • Comprehensive local, state, national and international planning is needed to address challenges posed by future climate change.
  • Public investment is needed to improve our understanding of how climate change affects society,.... Sustained support of climate-related research ... is needed.

More importantly, the Geological Society of America is recommending that its membership become active participants in discussion of climate change debate.

Actively participate in professional education and discussion activities to be technically informed about the latest advances in climate science. GSA should encourage symposia at regional, national and international meetings to inform members on mainstream understanding among geoscientists and climate scientists of the causes and future effects of global warming within the broader context of natural variability. These symposia should seek to actively engage members in hosted discussions that clarify issues, possibly utilizing educational formats other than the traditional presentation and Q&A session.

  • Engage in public education activities in the community, including the local level. Public education is a critical element of a proactive response to the challenges presented by global climate change. GSA members are encouraged to take an active part in outreach activities to educate the public at all levels (local, regional, national, and international) about the science of global warming and the importance of geological research in framing policy development. Such activities can include organizing and participating in community school activities; leading discussion groups in civic organizations; meeting with local and state community leaders and congressional staffs; participating in GSA's Congressional Visits Day; writing opinion pieces and letters to the editor for local and regional newspapers; contributing to online forums; and volunteering for organizations that support efforts to mitigate and adapt to global climate change.

  • Collaborate with a wide range of stakeholders and help educate and inform them about the causes and impacts of global climate change from the geosciences perspective. GSA members are encouraged to discuss with businesses and policy makers the science of global warming, as well as opportunities for transitioning from our predominant dependence on fossil fuels to greater use of low-carbon energies and energy efficiencies.

  • Work interactively with other science and policy societies to help inform the public and ensure that policymakers have access to scientifically reliable information. GSA should actively engage and collaborate with other earth-science organizations in recommending and formulating national and international strategies to address impending impacts of anthropogenic climate change.
  • In the face of heightened attacks on climate scientists, the Geological Society of America has made a strong statement calling on their membership to engage -- forcefully -- in the public discussion of climate change issues.


    1. Hat-tip to Michael Tobis who is very simply Only In It for the Gold.

    2. Photos courtesy of agharwaan

    3. For a discussion of (relevant) scientific institutions and their positions on climate change, see: Considering Institutional Authorities and Climate Change.

    4. APS also recently amended their climate change statement.