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An Open Letter To Congress From US Scientists On Climate Change And Recently Stolen Emails

December 6, 2009

As U.S. scientists with substantial expertise on climate change and its impacts on natural ecosystems, our built environment and human well-being, we want to assure policy makers and the public of the integrity of the underlying scientific research and the need for urgent action to reduce heat-trapping emissions. In the last few weeks, opponents of taking action on climate change have misrepresented both the content and the significance of stolen emails to obscure public understanding of climate science and the scientific process.

We would like to set the record straight.

The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming. The content of the stolen emails has no impact whatsoever on our overall understanding that human activity is driving dangerous levels of global warming. The scientific process depends on open access to methodology, data, and a rigorous peer-review process. The robust exchange of ideas in the peer-reviewed literature regarding climate science is evidence of the high degree of integrity in this process.

As the recent letter to Congress from 18 leading U.S. scientific organizations, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, and the American Meteorological Society, states:

“Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring, and rigorous scientific research demonstrates that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence, and contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science. … If we are to avoid the most severe impacts of climate change, emissions of greenhouse gases must be dramatically reduced.”

These “multiple independent lines of evidence” are drawn from numerous public and private research centers all across the United States and beyond, including several independent analyses of surface temperature data. Even without including analyses from the UK research center from which the emails were stolen, the body of evidence underlying our understanding of human-caused global warming remains robust.

We urge you to take account of this as you make decisions on climate policy.

Member of National Academy of Sciences
Institutional affiliation for identification purposes only


David Archer, Ph.D.
Department of the Geophysical Sciences
University of Chicago
Chicago, IL

William C. Clark, Ph.D.
Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Peter C. Frumhoff, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Policy
Chief Scientist, Climate Campaign
Union of Concerned Scientists
Cambridge, MA

Inez Fung, Ph.D.
Professor of Atmospheric Science
Co-Director, Berkeley Institute of the Environment
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA

Neal Lane, Ph.D.
Rice University
Former Director, National Science Foundation
Former Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Houston, TX

Michael MacCracken, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist for Climate Change Programs
The Climate Institute
Washington, DC

Pamela Matson, Ph.D.
School of Earth Sciences
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

James J. McCarthy, Ph.D.
Alexander Agassiz Professor of Biological Oceanography
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA

Jerry Melillo, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist and Director Emeritus
The Ecosystems Center
Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA

Edward L. Miles, Ph.D.
Bloedel Professor of Marine Studies and Public Affairs
School of Marine Affairs
Co-Director, Center for Science in the Earth System, JISAO
University of Washington
Seattle, WA

Mario J. Molina, Ph.D.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
Nobel Laureate, Chemistry
San Diego, CA

Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Ph.D.
Director, Byrd Polar Research Center
Professor of Geography and University Distinguished Scholar
The Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

Gerald R. North, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and Oceanography
Texas A&M University
College Station, TX

Michael Oppenheimer, Ph.D.
Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs
Department of Geosciences and Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ

Jonathan T. Overpeck, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Institute of the Environment
Department of Geosciences
Department of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ

Ronald G. Prinn, Ph.D.
TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science
Director, Center for Global Change Science
Co-Director, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA

Alan Robock, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor
Rutgers University
President, Atmospheric Sciences Section, American Geophysical Union
Chair-Elect, Atmospheric and Hydrospheric Sciences Section, American Association for the Advancement of Science
New Brunswick, NJ

Benjamin D. Santer, Ph.D.
Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Livermore, CA

William H. Schlesinger, Ph.D.
President, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Millbrook, NY

Daniel P. Schrag, Ph.D.
Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology
Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering
Director, Harvard University Center for the Environment
Cambridge, MA

Drew Shindell, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
New York, NY

Richard C. J. Somerville, Ph.D.
Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Research Professor
Scripps Institution of Oceanography
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA

Warren M. Washington, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Boulder, CO

Donald J. Wuebbles, Ph.D
The Harry E. Preble Professor of Atmospheric Sciences

For more information contact:
Phone: 111-111-1111

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