Scientists: Global warming risks ‘irreversible changes’

The American Association for the Advancement of Science published a report Tuesday that warned of extreme harm to the world’s climate if people don’t act immediately to slow climate change.

The report, titled “What We Know,” is designed to launch a new AAAS initiative to research and understand climate change, the role humans play and what world leaders can do about it, the group said.

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“We’re the largest general scientific society in the world, and therefore we believe we have an obligation to inform the public and policymakers about what science is showing about any issue in modern life, and climate is a particularly pressing one,” Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, said in a statement. “As the voice of the scientific community, we need to share what we know and bring policymakers to the table to discuss how to deal with the issue.”

The report centers around three conclusions: scientists agree that climate change is happening; the world is “at risk of pushing our climate system toward abrupt, unpredictable, and potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts;” and people can act soon to lower the risks.

Three scientists at major universities led the AAAS panel that generated the report. Those researchers, along with 10 others in climate related fields, will lead an initiative that “encourages Americans to think of climate change as a risk management issue,” the AAAS said.

“This new effort is intended to state very clearly the exceptionally strong evidence that Earth’s climate is changing, and that future climate change can seriously impact natural and societal systems,” James McCarthy, a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University, said in the statement.