375 top scientists warn about the 2016 presidential race

Today, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences released an open letter warning about dangerous consequences if the next U.S. President pulls out of the Paris climate agreements.

The unprecedented letter warns:

“…that the problem of human-caused climate change is real, serious, and immediate, and that this problem poses significant risks: to our ability to thrive and build a better future, to national security, to human health and food production, and to the interconnected web of living systems.”

The letter is signed by many of the world’s leading climate scientists. It represents a clear and dire warning from scientists to politicians: The earth is on the verge of a tipping point where increasingly severe physical, human and economic shock waves from climate change are imminent.

Here’s more from the text of the letter.

On September 20, 2016, 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel laureates, published an open letter to draw attention to the serious risks of climate change. The letter warns that the consequences of opting out of the Paris agreement would be severe and long-lasting for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.

Our fingerprints on the climate system are visible everywhere. They are seen in warming of the oceans, the land surface, and the lower atmosphere. They are identifiable in sea level rise, altered rainfall patterns, retreat of Arctic sea ice, ocean acidification, and many other aspects of the climate system. Human-caused climate change is not something far removed from our day-to-day experience, affecting only the remote Arctic. It is present here and now, in our own country, in our own states, and in our own communities.

During the Presidential primary campaign, claims were made that the Earth is not warming, or that warming is due to purely natural causes outside of human control. Such claims are inconsistent with reality.

From studies of changes in temperature and sea level over the last million years, we know that the climate system has tipping points. Our proximity to these tipping points is uncertain. We know, however, that rapid warming of the planet increases the risk of crossing climatic points of no return, possibly setting in motion large-scale ocean circulation changes, the loss of major ice sheets, and species extinctions. The climatic consequences of exceeding such thresholds are not confined to the next one or two electoral cycles. They have lifetimes of many thousands of years.

The political system also has tipping points. Thus it is of great concern that the Republican nominee for President has advocated U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Accord. A “Parexit” would send a clear signal to the rest of the world: “The United States does not care about the global problem of human-caused climate change. You are on your own.” Such a decision would make it far more difficult to develop effective global strategies for mitigating and adapting to climate change. The consequences of opting out of the global community would be severe and long-lasting – for our planet’s climate and for the international credibility of the United States.

Ben Santer and Kerry Emanuel, two of the lead authors of the letter, go further in this piece in the Washington Post, warning of “dangerous” consequences if the Paris agreement is abandoned by the next U.S. President.

Scientists know climate change is a threat. Politicians need to realize it, too.

The climate is changing in dangerous ways, and we are responsible for most of these changes. This is not a matter of conjecture or political opinion — it is the conclusion of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists, based on solid evidence that mounts each year. Rising sea levels, extreme heat, increased incidence of floods and drought, ocean acidification and expansion of tropical diseases pose an unacceptable level of risk to our descendants. So do many other climate-related threats.

Both Santer and Emanuel have been guests on MPR’s Climate Cast. We’ve also interviewed several of the other signers on Climate Cast in the past.

News of today’s is likely to reverberate through the news and climate communities in the coming weeks. The letter comes as Earth just posted the warmest August in 136 years globally.

  • DogatemyHope

    As a nation we are far too socially damaged to have any chance of addressing even the most severe effects of climate change. The very large number of Americans who vehemently deny any human caused climate change has grown and is now even more entrenched. In order to meaningfully do anything on a national scale to address the coming catastrophe we would probably have to fight a civil war. Eight years of Obama’s presidency and we burned more gas as a nation last month than ever in our history. We have opened up my new land to explore for oil and gas than ever in history. Nothing will be done and I’m sure the 1% have had a plan for a while and we aren’t part of it.

    • Von

      I think this is actually because the 1% which includes the ones preaching climate change, don’t actually believe it. Some of the top investors in to green technologies are the ones preaching human caused climate change. It’s about money, and nothing else. The earth goes thru natural cycles of warm to cold and back and forth. When scientist notice a pattern that goes against this human caused propoganda, they are called nutts. For example the polar magnet shift theory causing instability in the ionosphere. The ionosphere is what keeps the Suns heating rays in check. Magnetic field gets unstable, more rays get in heating the earth, magnetic field resets, ionosphere stablizes, earth gets colder. Or there’s, the massive increase in solar flares over the last 20 years, tripling over the last 10 years. Maybe we have nothing to do with it, maybe it’s just natural occurrences that we have absolutely no control over. To be honest, I believe that these changes are required, it’s what’s allowed us to evolve into what we are, otherwise we would still be dumb and happy simple cell organisms without change.

  • Von

    I just don’t buy into the hype of the world is ending. It may be true, but I just don’t believe it. Thru-out history, people have always said for one “human” reason or another that the world is ending. From early bible days with scripts of rapture for the ones not true to God, from nuclear holocost (likely possible), to cosmic events (likely possible) to global cooling, to global warming to now climate change. I mean come on, scientist thought the world was flat and that we were the center of the universe. It is completely arrogant to think that we as a race, are so mighty to change the weather to a point of extinction. Just as arrogant that bible thumpers think that a God created man and earth in 7 days. The earth goes thru cycles, much colder than what we think is normal and much warmer than what we perceive as normal. Extinction events happen, and the truth is, we will be the first species on this planet with the ability to adapt by technology to over come an extinction level event. Rather than waste efforts attempting to change something much bigger than us, we should be preparing for the earths natural cycle called change!

    • Dave

      The cool thing about science is that facts are facts, regardless of what you believe in your heart.

      • Von

        What facts? The earth is prooven to change, it has for long before humans walked. There are no facts that we are creating global change, it’s all hypothesis based on change not cause.

  • Christopher M. Jones

    Though shot through with glimpses of truth, this cataclysmic article is little more than an anti-Republican rant, passive-aggressive in character, pathetically divisive in intent, and, as is all but the the uniform case in Minnesota politics, slavishly DFL in character. I believe climate change is real, I believe human beings are contributing to it, and I believe we should take action to address our indiscretions. What I don’t believe, however, is that Democrats or Republicans are serious about abating the damage we have imposed. Both parties supplicate themselves like pagans to corporate interests. Only when we put the populace, the animal kingdom, and the planet first will we dismiss the grim deluge of partisan rhetoric and approach with candor the grave task before us. Such an outcome is about as probable as Al Franken’s decision to vote for Trump. In the meantime, stop pretending that Hillary Clinton will serve as our savior. Prepare for the earth to incinerate.

  • m&m

    It’s too late. humans may survive in the indigenous corners of the world but so called “civilization” as we know it, is over – so enjoy it while you can – go shopping!