6 August 2013
AGU Science Policy Alert 13–39
The American Geophysical Union released a revised version of its position statement on climate change on 5 August 2013. Titled, “Human-induced Climate Change Requires Urgent Action,” the statement declares that, “humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years,” and that, “rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes.” AGU develops position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to Earth and space science. These statements are limited to positions that are within the range of available geophysical data or norms of legitimate scientific debate.
“AGU has a responsibility to help policy makers and the public understand the impacts our science can have on public health and safety, economic stability and growth, and national security,” said Gerald North, chair of AGU’s Climate Change Position Statement Review Panel. “Because our understanding of climate change and its impacts on the world around us has advanced so significantly in the last few years, it was vitally important that AGU update its position statement. The new statement is more reflective of the current state of scientific knowledge. It also calls greater attention to the specific societal impacts we face and actions that can diminish the threat.”
AGU’s position statements are renewed every four years. The climate change position statement was first adopted in December 2003. It was then revised and reaffirmed in December 2007; and again in February 2012. However, the 2012 revision did not change the body of the document; it added an italicized summary in accord with the new required format for position statements.
AGU’s Position Statement Task Force reviews each statement to determine if it should be renewed as is, modified, or eliminated. In March 2012, the Task Force determined that the climate change position statement would require updating prior to renewal.
With input from AGU’s Council, relevant section and focus group leadership, the Position Statement Task Force, and staff, a panel of experts was subsequently formed to review the statement and make any necessary modifications. A draft of the updated statement was printed in Eos in November 2012, and all AGU members were encouraged to submit comments. After further revisions by the review panel based on the comments received, the statement was then adopted by the AGU Council in June 2013 and by the AGU Board in August 2013.