Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht, 2016-10-24
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  • Press Releases

    16 September 2013

    "The body of evidence is overwhelming”: Prominent climate scientists issue stark statement

    Two weeks prior to the launch of the first section of the latest IPCC’s report on climate change, twelve members of the newly established Earth League – a global initiative of prominent climate scientists – have jointly published a stark statement.
    “The body of evidence indicating that our civilisation has already caused significant global warming is overwhelming,” the scientists argue. In their concise report, they warn that if we continue on our current path of business-as-usual, devouring fossil fuels and excessively pumping out greenhouse-gases, we are on track to enter into a 4-degrees warmer world this century. “Moreover, powerful feedback processes that very likely will push the warming even higher could be set into irreversible operation.”

    A cap of a 2-degree temperature rise was set by the international community as a safe guardrail, though even this was cautioned by many to bring dangerous environmental and human consequences. The report warns a 4-degree rise, however, would set to drastically change our planet. Certain coastlines and whole islands would be submerged by rising sea-levels, and more extreme heat waves will strike regions and provoke yield failures, and the loss of lives.

    “Although climate science only tells us what might happen and not what to do about it, we authors feel that this is an unacceptable prospect,” the scientists state. “Nations go to war, implement mass vaccinations of their populations, and organise expensive insurance and security systems (such as anti-terror measures) to address much fainter threats. However, our societies seem to be willing to impose immense risks on future generations.”

    Now, while some say that humanity could not cause a 4-degreees warming by any conceivable means, others declare environmental defeat by maintaining that the international climate-policy goal of confining the planetary warming to less than 2-degrees is already a lost case. Yet there’s ample evidence that we can hold a 2-degrees line indeed, the authors point out. Technological advancements show we can realise the “Great Transformation” of global sustainability and research initiatives are rising to face this challenge. However, the evidence demonstrates that the time frame to achieve this is rapidly shrinking.
    Signatories to the report - Earth League members:
    Johan Rockström, Stockholm Resilience Center, Sweden
    Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
    Mario Molina, Centro Mario Molina, Mexico
    Brian Hoskins, Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, UK
    Guy Brasseur, Climate Service Center, HZG, Germany
    Carlos Nobre, National Institute for Space Research, Brazil
    Peter Schlosser, Earth Institute, Columbia University, USA
    Veerabhadran Ramanathan, University of California at San Diego, USA
    Nebojsa Nakicenovic, IIASA and Vienna University of Technology, Austria
    Youba Sokona, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Ethiopia
    Leena Srivastava, TERI University, India
    Jennifer Morgan, World Resources Institute, USA

    Full report available here

    7 February 2013

    Leading International scientists meeting at Imperial College London call for ‘a global transformation toward sustainability’

    The inaugural meeting of the Earth League, a voluntary alliance of leading scientists and institutions addressing earth science and sustainability challenges, took place at Imperial College London today, 7 February 2013.

    This international group of prominent scientists from world‐class research institutions will work together to respond to some of the most pressing issues faced by humankind, as a consequence of climate change, depletion of natural resources, land degradation and water scarcity. The group will consider the options for wider use of climate-compatible energy sources; increased and sustainable world food production; and novel approaches to urban planning. The alliance will focus on how we can manage anthropogenic global change according to the principles of sustainable development.

    The Earth League aims to provide decision makers with multiple options for addressing pressing sustainability issues, by delivering robust background information and enhancing transparency of the choices available. By coming together in a self-organized alliance, the Earth League members will be a united voice in the global dialogue on planetary issues.

    League members will meet annually to discuss a key earth science and sustainability issue in depth, using their combined expertise to assess the various solutions available. The findings from these discussions will be used to initiate new research activities or communicate new knowledge to high-level decision makers.

    At the official launch at Imperial College London the League called for a step change in sustainable living, arguing that truly transformational strategies would be needed to overcome the climate crisis and the many other pressing issues facing humankind today.

    Professor Guy Brasseur, Director of the Climate Service Center, Hamburg and Acting Chair of the Earth League said “This is a wonderful initiative which will address the challenges of sustainable development that are best investigated through a co-ordinated approach by leading experts. One of its roles will be to provide high-level decision-makers in business and government with analysis of the pressing global issues faced by society and potential responses.”

    Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London and a founding member of the Earth League said “We are very pleased to be part of this powerful grouping that aims to make a significant contribution to tackling global sustainability problems.”

    Notes to editors

    1. About the Earth League

    The Earth League is a self-organized network of scientific entities consisting of representatives from 18 institutions from both hemispheres, as well as both developed and developing countries. The first official meeting of the Earth League is taking place at Imperial College London on 7 February 2013, with an agenda to discuss the initial intellectual direction of the League. Following this the members of the Earth League will meet on an annual basis.

    For more information about the Earth League and a full list of members visit:

    The Earth League: Towards a Global Research & Assessment Alliance

    2. About Imperial College London

    Consistently rated amongst the world's best universities, Imperial College London is a science-based institution with a reputation for excellence in teaching and research that attracts 14,000 students and 6,000 staff of the highest international quality. Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and business, delivering practical solutions that improve quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.

    Since its foundation in 1907, Imperial's contributions to society have included the discovery of penicillin, the development of holography and the foundations of fibre optics. This commitment to the application of research for the benefit of all continues today, with current focuses including interdisciplinary collaborations to improve global health, tackle climate change, develop sustainable sources of energy and address security challenges.