Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Scientists Call for Action on Global Warming after a Long Silence, a Major Research Group Says Public Concern Onissue Is Justified

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Scientists Call for Action on Global Warming after a Long Silence, a Major Research Group Says Public Concern Onissue Is Justified

Article excerpt

Ten years ago, the world's premier group of earth, atmospheric, and planetary scientists declined to wade into the debate over global warming.

Yesterday, it jumped in with both feet. Citing advances in research and in modeling Earth's past and present climate, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) agreed that public concern about climate change is justified. Remaining scientific uncertainties, it said, fail to support a do-nothing approach.

While it tops short of detailed steps and timetables, the AGU recommends that policymakers develop and evaluate strategies such as reducing carbon-dioxide emissions, removing CO2 from the atmosphere, and adapting to the effects of climate change. The AGU is by no means leading the charge among scientific groups. Nor do all its 35,000 members agree with the new position statement. Still, from the standpoint of scientific credibility, the statement could rank among the most influential yet. "This is very significant," says Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club's global warming and energy program, based in Washington. "This is one of the last groups of scientists to speak out; and it's a large body of respected, thoughtful scientists." The position statement, drafted by the group's governing council, appears at a time when the Clinton administration is trying to raise the profile of global warming. The White House reportedly is sending a budget to Congress that includes a sizable package of spending and tax breaks to spur climate research and use of energy-efficient technologies. The move also follows last November's international climate meeting in Buenos Aires, where United States representatives signed the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. It requires the US to cut energy use by more than 30 percent over the next 12 years. But the protocol, which the Senate must ratify to take effect, has drawn sharp criticism from key senators and industry. They argue such cuts would seriously undermine the US economy, particularly if countries such as China and India refuse to sign on to the agreement. …

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