AMS Insights are perspectives meant to connect AMS Statements with views on real world events. We hope these views help shed light on various aspects of the weather, water, and climate enterprise and the relationship we all share with that.
AMS Statements represent our official position on various topics relating to weather, water, and climate.
Recently in Copenhagen, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) finalized the Synthesis Chapter of its latest climate change assessment report, IPCC Chair Dr. Rajendra Pachauri observed, “We still have time to build a better, more sustainable world.” Related events, such as the recent agreement between the United States and China, emphasize the attention to this topic among the world’s governments.
Dr. Pachauri’s expression of hope may have surprised those alarmed by the vast, accumulating body of consistent research—much of it conducted over decades by AMS members—that informs both the IPCC report and the 2012 AMS Statement on Climate Change. The science leads to the key conclusions: climate is changing, humans are responsible for a majority of the change over the last half-century, and the consequences to society could be severe.
Both IPCC’s new synthesis and the AMS Statement identify changes that have already occurred and which have consequences that are very likely unavoidable, such as melting glaciers, sea level rise, and changing precipitation patterns. The world faces serious risks.
These risks emerge from the sound science of the climate field, which transcends those legitimate scientific uncertainties still being investigated. This science will be the touchstone for this month’s UN gathering in Lima, Peru, to draft a treaty extending the international protocol process.
The science indeed offers hope to the participants in Lima as well as people around the world. As the AMS Statement notes, large and rapid reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions would help reduce future climate change and the risk of the most dangerous impacts. Similarly, building our adaptive capacity can help lessen the consequences from unavoidable impacts.
Despite the changes already underway, the science tells us that risks still can be reduced and managed. The choices we make in the technology, policy, and economic sectors in the near future will define the consequences of climate change.
AMS Policy Program Study: Climate Change Risk Management, by Paul Higgins
BAMS article, September 2014: Awareness of Both Type 1 and 2 Errors in Climate Science and Assessment
AMS Journal of Hydrometeorology: Water and Global Change (WATCH)
AMS Journal of Climate: Polar Climate Stability