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Climate change is real: an open letter from the scientific community

Today, The Conversation launches a two-week series from the nation’s top minds on the science behind climate change and the efforts of “sceptics” to cloud the debate. The overwhelming scientific evidence…

It’s undeniable: our planet is changing. NASA

Today, The Conversation launches a two-week series from the nation’s top minds on the science behind climate change and the efforts of “sceptics” to cloud the debate.

The overwhelming scientific evidence tells us that human greenhouse gas emissions are resulting in climate changes that cannot be explained by natural causes.

Climate change is real, we are causing it, and it is happening right now.

Like it or not, humanity is facing a problem that is unparalleled in its scale and complexity. The magnitude of the problem was given a chilling focus in the most recent report of the International Energy Agency, which their chief economist characterised as the “worst news on emissions.”

Limiting global warming to 2°C is now beginning to look like a nearly insurmountable challenge.

Like all great challenges, climate change has brought out the best and the worst in people.

A vast number of scientists, engineers, and visionary businesspeople are boldly designing a future that is based on low-impact energy pathways and living within safe planetary boundaries; a future in which substantial health gains can be achieved by eliminating fossil-fuel pollution; and a future in which we strive to hand over a liveable planet to posterity.

At the other extreme, understandable economic insecurity and fear of radical change have been exploited by ideologues and vested interests to whip up ill-informed, populist rage, and climate scientists have become the punching bag of shock jocks and tabloid scribes.

Aided by a pervasive media culture that often considers peer-reviewed scientific evidence to be in need of “balance” by internet bloggers, this has enabled so-called “sceptics” to find a captive audience while largely escaping scrutiny.

Australians have been exposed to a phony public debate which is not remotely reflected in the scientific literature and community of experts.

Beginning today, The Conversation will bring much-needed and long-overdue accountability to the climate “sceptics.”

For the next two weeks, our series of daily analyses will show how they can side-step the scientific literature and how they subvert normal peer review. They invariably ignore clear refutations of their arguments and continue to promote demonstrably false critiques.

We will show that “sceptics” often show little regard for truth and the critical procedures of the ethical conduct of science on which real skepticism is based.

The individuals who deny the balance of scientific evidence on climate change will impose a heavy future burden on Australians if their unsupported opinions are given undue credence.

The signatories below jointly authored this article, and some may also contribute to the forthcoming series of analyses.

Signatories

Winthrop Professor Stephan Lewandowsky, Australian Professorial Fellow, UWA

Dr. Matthew Hipsey, Research Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Environment, Centre of Excellence for Ecohydrology, UWA

Dr Julie Trotter, Research Assistant Professor, School of Earth and Environment, UWA Oceans Institute, UWA

Winthrop Professor Malcolm McCulloch, F.R.S., Premier’s Research Fellow, UWA Oceans Institute, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Professor Kevin Judd, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UWA

Dr Thomas Stemler, Assistant Professor, School of Mathematics and Statistics, UWA

Dr. Karl-Heinz Wyrwoll, Senior Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Dr. Andrew Glikson, Earth and paleoclimate scientist, School of Archaeology and Anthropology, Research School of Earth Science, Planetary Science Institute, ANU

Prof Michael Ashley, School of Physics, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof David Karoly, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Prof John Abraham, Associate Professor, School of Engineering, University of St. Thomas

Prof Ian Enting, ARC Centre for Mathematics and Statistics of Complex Systems, University of Melbourne

Prof John Wiseman, Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Ben Newell, School of Psychology, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Matthew England, co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr Alex Sen Gupta Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof. Mike Archer AM, School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Steven Sherwood, co-Director, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr. Katrin Meissner, ARC Future Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Dr Jason Evans, ARC Australian Research Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, UQ

Dr Andy Hogg, Fellow, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU

Prof John Quiggin, School of Economics, School of Political Science & Intnl Studies, UQ

Prof Chris Turney FRSA FGS FRGS, Climate Change Research Centre and School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, UNSW

Dr Gab Abramowitz, Lecturer, Climate Change Research Centre,Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Andy Pitman, Climate Change Research Centre, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Barry Brook, Sir Hubert Wilkins Chair of Climate Change, University of Adelaide

Prof Mike Sandiford, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Dr Michael Box, Associate Professor, School of Physics, Faculty of Science, UNSW

Prof Corey Bradshaw, Director of Ecological Modelling, The Environment Institute, The University of Adelaide

Dr Paul Dargusch, School of Agriculture & Food Science, UQ

Prof Nigel Tapper, Professor Environmental Science, School of Geography and Environmental Science Monash University

Prof Jason Beringer, Associate Professor & Deputy Dean of Research, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

Prof Neville Nicholls, Professorial Fellow, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

Prof Dave Griggs, Director, Monash Sustainability Institute, Monash University

Prof Peter Sly, Medicine Faculty, School of Paediatrics & Child Health, UQ

Dr Pauline Grierson, Senior Lecturer, School of Plant Biology, Ecosystems Research Group, Director of West Australian Biogeochemistry Centre, UWA

Prof Jurg Keller, IWA Fellow, Advanced Water Management Centre, UQ

Prof Amanda Lynch, School of Geography & Environmental Science, Monash University

A/Prof Steve Siems, School of Mathematical Sciences, Monash University

Prof Justin Brookes, Director, Water Research Centre, The University of Adelaide

Prof Glenn Albrecht, Professor of Sustainability, Director: Institute for Sustainability and Technology Policy (ISTP), Murdoch University

Winthrop Professor Steven Smith, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology, UWA

Dr Kerrie Unsworth, School of Business, UWA

Dr Pieter Poot, Assistant Professor in Plant Conservation Biology, School of Plant Biology, UWA

Adam McHugh, Lecturer, School of Engineering and Energy, Murdoch University

Dr Louise Bruce, Research Associate, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Dr Ailie Gallant, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

Dr Will J Grant, Australian National Centre for Public Awareness of Science, ANU

Rick A. Baartman, Fellow of the American Physical Society

William GC Raper, Senior Principal Research Scientist, CSIRO (retired)

Dr Chris Riedy, Research Director, Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology, Sydney

Ben McNeil, Senior Fellow, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW

Paul Beckwith, Department of Geography, University of Ottawa

Tim Leslie, PhD candidate, Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW

Dr Peter Manins, Chief Research Scientist, CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (post-retirement Fellow)

Prof Philip Jennings, Professor of Energy Studies, Murdoch University

Dr John Tibby, Senior Lecturer, Geography, Environment and Population, University of Adelaide

Prof Ray Wills, Adjunct Professor, School of Earth and Environment, UWA

Jess Robertson, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU

Dr Paul Tregoning, Senior Fellow, Research School of Earth Sciences, ANU

Dr Doone Wyborn, Adjunct Professor, Geothermal Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland

Dr. Jonathan Whale, Director, National Small Wind Turbine Centre (NSWTC), Murdoch University

Dr Tas van Ommen, Australian Antarctic Division, Cryosphere Program Leader, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC

Dr Jim Salinger, Honorary Research Associate, School of Environment, University of Auckland

Dr P. Timon McPhearson, Assistant Professor of Urban Ecology, Tishman Environment and Design Center, The New School, New York

Prof Deo Prasad, Director Masters in Sustainable Development, UNSW

Prof Rob Harcourt, Facility Leader, Australian Animal Tagging, Monitoring System Integrated Marine Observing System and Professor of Marine Ecology, Macquarie University

Dr John Hunter, Antarctic Climate & Ecosystems CRC, University of Tasmania

Dr Michael Brown, ARC Future Fellow & Senior Lecturer, School of Physics, Monash University

Dr Karen McNamara, Pacific Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, University of the South Pacific

Dr Paul Marshall, Director - Climate Change, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

Dr Ivan Haigh, Post-doctoral Research Associate, UWA Oceans Institute and School of Environmental Systems Engineering

Dr Ian Allison, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems CRC

Dr Jennifer Coopersmith, Honorary Research Associate Department of Civil Engineering and Physical Sciences, La Trobe University

Professor Emeritus Peter Kershaw, School of Geography and Environmental Science, Monash University

Professor Peter Gell, Director, Centre for Environmental Management, University of Ballarat

Prof David A Hood, Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Built Environment and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Lesley Hughes, Head of Biological Sciences and Co-director of Climate Futures at Macquarie, Macquarie University

Dr Melanie Bishop, Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Climate Futures at Macquarie, Macquarie University

Dr Jane Williamson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, Climate Futures at Macquarie, Macquarie University

Associate Professor Grant Wardell-Johnson, Director of the Curtin Institute of Biodiversity and Climate, Curtin University

Associate Professor Ralph Chapman, Director, Graduate Programme in Environmental Studies, Victoria University of Wellington

Dr Malcolm Walter, Director, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales

Dr Darrell Kemp, Senior Lecturer, Department of Biological Sciences, and Co-leader of Terrestrial Adaptation Research, Climate Futures at Macquarie, Macquarie University

Dr Liz Hanna, Fellow, National Center for Epidemiology & Population Health, ANU

Dr. Patrick J. Conaghan, Honorary Associate, Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Macquarie University.

Are you in the science field? Do you agree? If you’d like to add your name to the list, send an email to environment@theconversation.edu.au

This is the first part of our series Clearing up the Climate Debate. To read the other instalments, follow the links below: