CORVALLIS - An ecologist at Oregon State University has joined a group of the world's most prestigious scientists in calling today for new policies on global warming that are based on the best available science, not politics or money from special interest groups.
Many of these experts, which include numerous Nobel laureates, are meeting today in Washington, D.C., to present Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt with a landmark declaration on climate change, and urging the U.S. to act immediately to prevent potentially devastating consequences of human-induced global warming.
Among the 1,504 signatories of that "Call to Action" from 62 different countries is Jane Lubchenco, Distinguished Professor of Zoology at OSU and chair of the board of directors of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, one of the world's leading professional science organizations.
In July, Lubchenco and several other leading experts briefed President Clinton and Vice President Gore on the verifiable reality of global climate change, and urged the U.S. to take a strong stance at upcoming meetings in Kyoto, Japan, aimed at limiting greenhouse gas emissions.
"The evidence is overwhelming that the climate is warming and the vast majority of scientists are in agreement," Lubchenco said at that time. "It's no longer possible to say we don't have a scientific basis for taking action."
The scientists meeting today say that they are acting in the face of a misleading multi-million dollar ad campaign funded by several fossil fuel companies, and calling upon government leaders to choose policies supported by the best science, rather than the most money.
This "science summit" is being held one week before the White House deliberations on global warming. The White House, the researchers said, has yet to announce its proposals to limit global warming and has scheduled a conference on the subject for Oct. 6.
A recently released poll commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund, the researchers said, reveals that the American public believes global warming is real and represents a serious threat. Two-thirds of voters see global warming as a serious threat now and believe the problem is likely to get worse. Voters also express enthusiasm for an international agreement to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
The scientists' statement today points out that five years ago, in the "World Scientists' Warning to Humanity," about 1,600 of the world's senior scientists said that human activities can inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and critical resources. But since that time, they said, "progress has been woefully inadequate, some of the most serious problems have worsened, (and) invaluable time has been squandered because so few leaders have risen to the challenge."
They warn of atmospheric and ecological disruption, rising sea levels, more severe weather events, encroachment of tropical diseases, species extinction, water and food scarcity, loss of biodiversity and many other impacts.
The important first step is now to complete a strong and meaningful climate treaty in the December, 1997, meetings at Kyoto, the scientists said.