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Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

A letter from 255 members of the National Academy of Science (NAS) published in Science Magazine, May 7, 2010. The subject is 'Climate Change and the Integrity of Science'. The letter is a substantial statement, and yet the media did not pick it up.
Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

March 2010 Temp Anomaly

Anyone that has been around scientists very much knows how difficult it is to get two or three of them to agree on anything, let alone something as complex as climate. The NAS letter has a profound message in this simple fact: 255 members signed it.

Source File

National Academy of Science

Letter: Climate Change and the Integrity of Science

We are deeply disturbed by the recent escalation of political assaults on scientists in general and on climate scientists in particular. All citizens should understand some basic scientific facts. There is always some uncertainty associated with scientific conclusions; science never absolutely proves anything. When someone says that society should wait until scientists are absolutely certain before taking any action, it is the same as saying society should never take action. For a problem as potentially catastrophic as climate change, taking no action poses a dangerous risk for our planet.

Scientific conclusions derive from an understanding of basic laws supported by laboratory experiments, observations of nature, and mathematical and computer modeling. Like all human beings, scientists make mistakes, but the scientific process is designed to find and correct them. This process is inherently adversarial— scientists build reputations and gain recognition not only for supporting conventional wisdom, but even more so for demonstrating that the scientific consensus is wrong and that there is a better explanation. That's what Galileo, Pasteur, Darwin, and Einstein did. But when some conclusions have been thoroughly and deeply tested, questioned, and examined, they gain the status of "well- established theories" and are often spoken of as "facts."

there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

For instance, there is compelling scientific evidence that our planet is about 4.5bn years old (the theory of the origin of Earth), that our universe was born from a single event about 14bn years ago (the Big Bang theory), and that today's organisms evolved from ones living in the past (the theory of evolution). Even as these are overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, fame still awaits anyone who could show these theories to be wrong. Climate change now falls into this category: there is compelling, comprehensive, and consistent objective evidence that humans are changing the climate in ways that threaten our societies and the ecosystems on which we depend.

Many recent assaults on climate science and, more disturbingly, on climate scientists by climate change deniers, are typically driven by special interests or dogma, not by an honest effort to provide an alternative theory that credibly satisfies the evidence. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientific assessments of climate change, which involve thousands of scientists producing massive and comprehensive reports, have, quite expectedly and normally, made some mistakes. When errors are pointed out, they are corrected.

But there is nothing remotely identified in the recent events that changes the fundamental conclusions about climate change:

(i) The planet is warming due to increased concentrations of heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. A snowy winter in Washington does not alter this fact.

(ii) Most of the increase in the concentration of these gases over the last century is due to human activities, especially the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation.

(iii) Natural causes always play a role in changing Earth's climate, but are now being overwhelmed by human-induced changes.

(iv) Warming the planet will cause many other climatic patterns to change at speeds unprecedented in modern times, including increasing rates of sea-level rise and alterations in the hydrologic cycle. Rising concentrations of carbon dioxide are making the oceans more acidic.

(v) The combination of these complex climate changes threatens coastal communities and cities, our food and water supplies, marine and freshwater ecosystems, forests, high mountain environments, and far more.

We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change

Much more can be, and has been, said by the world's scientific societies, national academies, and individuals, but these conclusions should be enough to indicate why scientists are concerned about what future generations will face from business- as-usual practices. We urge our policymakers and the public to move forward immediately to address the causes of climate change, including the unrestrained burning of fossil fuels.

The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

We also call for an end to McCarthy- like threats of criminal prosecution against our colleagues based on innuendo and guilt by association, the harassment of scientists by politicians seeking distractions to avoid taking action, and the outright lies being spread about them. Society has two choices: we can ignore the science and hide our heads in the sand and hope we are lucky, or we can act in the public interest to reduce the threat of global climate change quickly and substantively. The good news is that smart and effective actions are possible. But delay must not be an option.

The signatories are all members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences but are not speaking on its behalf or on behalf of their institutions:


  1. Adams, Robert McCormick, University of California, San Diego
  2. Amasino, Richard M, University of Wisconsin
  3. Anders, Edward, University of Chicago
  4. Anderson, David J, California Institute of Technology
  5. Anderson, Wyatt W, University of Georgia
  6. Anselin, Luc E, Arizona State University
  7. Arroyo, Mary Kalin, University of Chile
  8. Asfaw, Berhane, Rift Valley Research Service
  9. Ayala, Francisco J, University of California, Irvine
  10. Bax, Adriaan, National Institutes of Health Bebbington,
  11. Anthony J, University of Manchester
  12. Bell, Gordon, Microsoft Research
  13. Bennett, Michael V L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  14. Bennetzen, Jeffrey L, University of Georgia
  15. Berenbaum, May R, University of Illinois
  16. Berlin, Overton Brent, University of Georgia
  17. Bjorkman, Pamela J, California Institute of Technology
  18. Blackburn, Elizabeth, University of California, San Francisco
  19. Blamont, Jacques E, Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales
  20. Botchan, Michael R, University of California, Berkeley
  21. Boyer, John S, University of Delaware
  22. Boyle, Ed A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  23. Branton, Daniel, Harvard University
  24. Briggs, Steven P, University of California, San Diego
  25. Briggs, Winslow R, Carnegie Institution of Washington
  26. Brill, Winston J, Winston J. Brill and Associates
  27. Britten, Roy J, California Institute of Technology
  28. Broecker, Wallace S, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and Columbia University
  29. Brown, James H, University of New Mexico
  30. Brown, Patrick O, Stanford University School of Medicine
  31. Brunger, Axel T, Stanford University
  32. Cairns, Jr John, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
  33. Canfield, Donald E, University of Southern Denmark
  34. Carpenter, Stephen R, University of Wisconsin
  35. Carrington, James C, Oregon State University
  36. Cashmore, Anthony R, University of Pennsylvania
  37. Castilla, Juan Carlos, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
  38. Cazenave, Anny, Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales
  39. Chapin, III F, Stuart, University of Alaska
  40. Ciechanover, Aaron J, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
  41. Clapham, David E, Harvard Medical School
  42. Clark, William C, Harvard University
  43. Clayton, Robert N, University of Chicago
  44. Coe, Michael D, Yale University
  45. Conwell, Esther M, University of Rochester
  46. Cowling, Ellis B, North Carolina State University
  47. Cowling, Richard M, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  48. Cox, Charles S, University of California, San Diego
  49. Croteau, Rodney B, Washington State University
  50. Crothers, Donald M, Yale University
  51. Crutzen, Paul J, Max Planck Institute for Chemistry
  52. Daily, Gretchen C, Stanford University
  53. Dalrymple, Brent G, Oregon State University
  54. Dangl, Jeffrey L, University of North Carolina
  55. Darst, Seth A, Rockefeller University
  56. Davies, David R, National Institutes of Health
  57. Davis, Margaret B, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
  58. De Camilli, Pietro V, Yale University School of Medicine
  59. Dean, Caroline, John Innes Centre
  60. DeFries, Ruth S, Columbia University
  61. Deisenhofer, Johann, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas
  62. Delmer, Deborah P, University of California, Davis
  63. DeLong, Edward F, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  64. DeRosier, David J, Brandeis University
  65. Diener, Theodor O, University of Maryland
  66. Dirzo, Rodolfo, Stanford University
  67. Dixon, Jack E, Howard Hughes Medical Center
  68. Donoghue, Michael J, Yale University
  69. Doolittle, Russell F, University of California, San Diego
  70. Dunne, Thomas, University of California, Santa Barbara
  71. Ehrlich, Paul R, Stanford University
  72. Eisenstadt, Shmuel N, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  73. Eisner, Thomas, Cornell University
  74. Emanuel, Kerry A, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  75. Englander, Walter S, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
  76. Ernst, W, G, Stanford University
  77. Falkowski, Paul G, Rutgers, State University of New Jersey
  78. Feher, George, University of California, San Diego
  79. Ferejohn, John A, Stanford University
  80. Fersht, Sir Alan, University of Cambridge
  81. Fischer, Edmond H, University of Washington
  82. Fischer, Robert, University of California, Berkeley
  83. Flannery, Kent V, University of Michigan
  84. Frank, Joachim, Columbia University
  85. Frey, Perry A, University of Wisconsin
  86. Fridovich, Irwin, Duke University Medical Center
  87. Frieden, Carl, Washington University School of Medicine
  88. Futuyma, Douglas J, Stony Brook University
  89. Gardner, Wilford R, University of California, Berkeley
  90. Garrett, Christopher J R, University of Victoria
  91. Gilbert, Walter, Harvard University
  92. Gleick, Peter H, Pacific Institute, Oakland
  93. Goldberg, Robert B, University of California, Los Angeles
  94. Goodenough, Ward H, University of Pennsylvania
  95. Goodman, Corey S, venBio, LLC
  96. Goodman, Morris, Wayne State University School of Medicine
  97. Greengard, Paul, Rockefeller University
  98. Hake, Sarah, Agricultural Research Service
  99. Hammel, Gene, University of California, Berkeley
  100. Hanson, Susan, Clark University
  101. Harrison, Stephen C, Harvard Medical School
  102. Hart, Stanley R, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  103. Hartl, Daniel L, Harvard University
  104. Haselkorn, Robert, University of Chicago
  105. Hawkes, Kristen, University of Utah
  106. Hayes, John M, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  107. Hille, Bertil, University of Washington
  108. Hökfelt, Tomas, Karolinska Institutet
  109. House, James S, University of Michigan
  110. Hout, Michael, University of California, Berkeley
  111. Hunten, Donald M, University of Arizona
  112. Izquierdo, Ivan A, Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul
  113. Jagendorf, André T, Cornell University
  114. Janzen, Daniel H, University of Pennsylvania
  115. Jeanloz, Raymond, University of California, Berkeley
  116. Jencks, Christopher S, Harvard University
  117. Jury, William A, University of California, Riverside
  118. Kaback, H Ronald, University of California, Los Angeles
  119. Kailath, Thomas, Stanford University
  120. Kay, Paul, International Computer Science Institute
  121. Kay, Steve A, University of California, San Diego
  122. Kennedy, Donald, Stanford University
  123. Kerr, Allen, University of Adelaide
  124. Kessler, Ronald C, Harvard Medical School
  125. Khush, Gurdev S, University of California, Davis
  126. Kieffer, Susan W, University of Illinois
  127. Kirch, Patrick V, University of California, Berkeley
  128. Kirk, Kent C, University of Wisconsin
  129. Kivelson, Margaret G, University of California, Los Angeles
  130. Klinman, Judith P, University of California, Berkeley
  131. Klug, Sir Aaron, Medical Research Council
  132. Knopoff, Leon, University of California, Los Angeles
  133. Kornberg, Sir Hans, Boston University
  134. Kutzbach, John E, University of Wisconsin
  135. Lagarias, J Clark, University of California, Davis
  136. Lambeck, Kurt, Australian National University
  137. Landy, Arthur, Brown University
  138. Langmuir, Charles H, Harvard University
  139. Larkins, Brian A, University of Arizona
  140. Le Pichon, Xavier T, College de France
  141. Lenski, Richard E, Michigan State University
  142. Leopold, Estella B, University of Washington
  143. Levin, Simon A, Princeton University
  144. Levitt, Michael, Stanford University School of Medicine
  145. Likens, Gene E, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
  146. Lippincott-Schwartz, Jennifer, National Institutes of Health
  147. Lorand, Laszlo, Northwestern University
  148. Lovejoy, Owen C, Kent State University
  149. Lynch, Michael, Indiana University
  150. Mabogunje, Akin L, Foundation for Development and Environmental Initiatives
  151. Malone, Thomas F, North Carolina State University
  152. Manabe, Syukuro, Princeton University
  153. Marcus, Joyce, University of Michigan
  154. Massey, Douglas S, Princeton University
  155. McWilliams, Jim C, University of California, Los Angeles
  156. Medina, Ernesto, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research
  157. Melosh, Jay H, Purdue University
  158. Meltzer, David J, Southern Methodist University
  159. Michener, Charles D, University of Kansas
  160. Miles, Edward L, University of Washington
  161. Mooney, Harold A, Stanford University
  162. Moore, Peter B, Yale University
  163. Morel, Francois M M, Princeton University
  164. Mosley-Thompson, Ellen, Ohio State University
  165. Moss, Bernard, National Institutes of Health
  166. Munk, Walter H, University of California, San Diego
  167. Myers, Norman, University of Oxford
  168. Nair, Balakrish G, National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases
  169. Nathans, Jeremy, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  170. Nester, Eugene W, University of Washington
  171. Nicoll, Roger A, University of California, San Francisco
  172. Novick, Richard P, New York University School of Medicine
  173. O'Connell, James F, University of Utah
  174. Olsen, Paul E, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
  175. Opdyke, Neil D, University of Florida
  176. Oster, George F, University of California, Berkeley
  177. Ostrom, Elinor, Indiana University
  178. Pace, Norman R, University of Colorado
  179. Paine, Robert T, University of Washington
  180. Palmiter, Richard D, University of Washington School of Medicine
  181. Pedlosky, Joseph, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  182. Petsko, Gregory A, Brandeis University
  183. Pettengill, Gordon H, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  184. Philander, George S, Princeton University
  185. Piperno, Dolores R, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  186. Pollard, Thomas D, Yale University
  187. Price Jr. Buford P, University of California, Berkeley
  188. Reichard, Peter A, Karolinska Institutet
  189. Reskin, Barbara F, University of Washington
  190. Ricklefs, Robert E, University of Missouri
  191. Rivest, Ronald L, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  192. Roberts, John D, California Institute of Technology
  193. Romney, Kimball A, University of California, Irvine
  194. Rossmann, Michael G, Purdue University
  195. Russell, David W, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center of Dallas
  196. Rutter, William J, Synergenics, LLC
  197. Sabloff, Jeremy A, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology
  198. Sagdeev, Roald Z, University of Maryland
  199. Sahlins, Marshall D, University of Chicago
  200. Salmond, Anne, University of Auckland
  201. Sanes, Joshua R, Harvard University
  202. Schekman, Randy, University of California, Berkeley
  203. Schellnhuber, John, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research
  204. Schindler, David W, University of Alberta
  205. Schmitt, Johanna, Brown University
  206. Schneider, Stephen H, Woods Institute for the Environment
  207. Schramm, Vern L, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  208. Sederoff Ronald R, North Carolina State University
  209. Shatz, Carla J, Stanford University
  210. Sherman, Fred, University of Rochester Medical Center
  211. Sidman, Richard L, Harvard Medical School
  212. Sieh, Kerry, Nanyang Technological University
  213. Simons, Elwyn L, Duke University Lemur Center
  214. Singer, Burton H, Princeton University
  215. Singer, Maxine F, Carnegie Institution of Washington
  216. Skyrms, Brian, University of California, Irvine
  217. Sleep, Norman H, Stanford University
  218. Smith, Bruce D, Smithsonian Institution
  219. Snyder, Solomon H, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
  220. Sokal, Robert R, Stony Brook University
  221. Spencer, Charles S, American Museum of Natural History
  222. Steitz, Thomas A, Yale University
  223. Strier, Karen B, University of Wisconsin
  224. Südhof, Thomas C, Stanford University School of Medicine
  225. Taylor, Susan S, University of California, San Diego
  226. Terborgh, John, Duke University
  227. Thomas, David Hurst, American Museum of Natural History
  228. Thompson, Lonnie G, Ohio State University
  229. Tjian, Robert T, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  230. Turner, Monica G, University of Wisconsin
  231. Uyeda, Seiya, Tokai University
  232. Valentine, James W, University of California, Berkeley
  233. Valentine, Joan Selverstone, University of California, Los Angeles
  234. Van Etten, James L, University of Nebraska
  235. Van Holde, Kensal E, Oregon State University
  236. Vaughan, Martha, National Institutes of Health
  237. Verba Sidney, Harvard University
  238. Von Hippel, Peter H, University of Oregon
  239. Wake, David B, University of California, Berkeley
  240. Walker, Alan, Pennsylvania State University
  241. Walker John E, Medical Research Council
  242. Watson, Bruce E, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  243. Watson, Patty Jo, Washington University, St. Louis
  244. Weigel, Detlef, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology
  245. Wessler, Susan R, University of Georgia
  246. West-Eberhard, Mary Jane, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  247. White, Tim D, University of California, Berkeley
  248. Wilson, William Julius, Harvard University
  249. Wolfenden, Richard V, University of North Carolina
  250. Wood, John A, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  251. Woodwell, George M, Woods Hole Research Center
  252. Wright, Jr Herbert E, University of Minnesota
  253. Wu, Carl, National Institutes of Health
  254. Wunsch, Carl, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  255. Zoback, Mary Lou, Risk Management Solutions, Inc

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