Twenty leading scientists have called on President Obama “to exercise maximum personal leadership” in tackling the threat posed by climate change.
In a letter composed by some of the world’s best and brightest scientists and scholars, they write that their “purpose is to call attention to the large difference between what U.S. politics now seems capable of enacting and what scientists understand is necessary to prevent climatic disruption and protect the human future”.
While the scientists write that the Waxman-Markey bill—‘clean energy’ legislation that is meant to lower the United States’ greenhouse gas emission—“must be enacted this year” and should be “strengthened wherever possible and certainly not weakened”. The signatures call the bill a “first step” and acknowledge its shortcomings in forcing the necessary cuts to curb global warming.
The letter further argues that current goals by the United States and other international governments—limiting the buildup off CO2 to 450 parts per million and stopping the rise of global temperatures at 2 degrees Celsisus—are simply not enough to deal effectively with global warming.
“These objectives are inadequate to sustain the integrity of global climate and to hold the risk of ruinous climatic change to an acceptably low level,” the letter reads. “United States policy must provide a fully satisfactory U.S. contribution to global greenhouse gas reductions that move beyond these inadequate international limits.”
The scientists go on to argue that climate change should be at least as much of a priority for the Obama Administration as health care reform, another major topic in Washington—and one that receives far more media coverage.
“We recognize the difference in popularity of these two causes,” the scientists admit, “but it is the essence of Presidential leadership to show the way even where adequate public awareness of the risks ahead may be lacking. Speaking in Germany recently, President Obama referred to climatic change as ‘a potentially cataclysmic disaster.’ We agree and believe that message must be communicated and elaborated to the American people in time to assure strong, effective Congressional action in both houses of Congress this year.”
The letter was signed by:
Dean Abrahamson, Professor Emeritus, Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Robert Costanza, Gordon and Lulie Gund Professor of Ecological Economics and Director, Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources, The University of Vermont
Peter H. Gleick, N.A.S; President, Pacific Institute, Oakland, California
Richard A. Houghton, Senior Scientist, Acting Director, The Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Ralph Keeling, Professor, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Donald Kennedy, President Emeritus and Bing Professor of Environmental Sciences, Emeritus, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
Thomas Lovejoy, Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment, Washington, D.C.
Michael MacCracken, Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs, Climate Institute, Washington, D.C.
Michael E. Mann, Director, The Earth System Science Center, Professor of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park
Michael McElroy, Gilbert Butler Professor of Environmental Science, Harvard University. Cambridge, MA
Steve Running, Professor, Director , Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group, Department of Ecosystem Science, Univ. of Montana, Missoula
William Schlesinger, President and Director, The Cary Institute of Ecosystems Studies, Millbrook, N.Y.
Stephen H. Schneider, Melvin and Joan Lane Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies; Professor, Department of Biology, Stanford University
Richard C. J. Somerville, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
James Gustave Speth, Dean, Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, New Haven, Connecticut
Lonnie G. Thompson, Distinguished University Professor, School of Earth Sciences; Senior Research Scientist,
Byrd Polar Research Center. The Ohio State University, Columbus
Warren Washington, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
Richard S. Williams, Senior Scientist Emeritus, USGS; Visiting Senior Scientist, The Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
Timothy E. Wirth, President, The United Nations Foundation, Washington, D.C.; former US Senator from Colorado
George M. Woodwell , Director Emeritus, Senior Scientist, The Woods Hole Research Center, Woods Hole, Massachusetts
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