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Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
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CONCLUSION

This document explains that there are well-understood physical mechanisms by which changes in the amounts of greenhouse gases cause climate changes. It discusses the evidence that the concentrations of these gases in the atmosphere have increased and are still increasing rapidly, that climate change is occurring, and that most of the recent change is almost certainly due to emissions of greenhouse gases caused by human activities. Further climate change is inevitable; if emissions of greenhouse gases continue unabated, future changes will substantially exceed those that have occurred so far. There remains a range of estimates of the magnitude and regional expression of future change, but increases in the extremes of climate that can adversely affect natural ecosystems and human activities and infrastructure are expected.

Citizens and governments can choose among several options (or a mixture of those options) in response to this information: they can change their pattern of energy production and usage in order to limit emissions of greenhouse gases and hence the magnitude of climate changes; they can wait for changes to occur and accept the losses, damage, and suffering that arise; they can adapt to actual and expected changes as much as possible; or they can seek as yet unproven “geoengineering” solutions to counteract some of the climate changes that would otherwise occur. Each of these options has risks, attractions and costs, and what is actually done may be a mixture of these different options. Different nations and communities will vary in their vulnerability and their capacity to adapt. There is an important debate to be had about choices among these options, to decide what is best for each group or nation, and most importantly for the global population as a whole. The options have to be discussed at a global scale because in many cases those communities that are most vulnerable control few of the emissions, either past or future. Our description of the science of climate change, with both its facts and its uncertainties, is offered as a basis to inform that policy debate.

Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Authors

The following individuals served as the primary writing team for the 2014 and 2020 editions of this document:

  • Eric Wolff FRS, (UK lead), University of Cambridge
  • Inez Fung (NAS, US lead), University of California, Berkeley
  • Brian Hoskins FRS, Grantham Institute for Climate Change
  • John F.B. Mitchell FRS, UK Met Office
  • Tim Palmer FRS, University of Oxford
  • Benjamin Santer (NAS), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • John Shepherd FRS, University of Southampton
  • Keith Shine FRS, University of Reading.
  • Susan Solomon (NAS), Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Kevin Trenberth, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • John Walsh, University of Alaska, Fairbanks
  • Don Wuebbles, University of Illinois

Staff support for the 2020 revision was provided by Richard Walker, Amanda Purcell, Nancy Huddleston, and Michael Hudson. We offer special thanks to Rebecca Lindsey and NOAA Climate.gov for providing data and figure updates.

Reviewers

The following individuals served as reviewers of the 2014 document in accordance with procedures approved by the Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences:

  • Richard Alley (NAS), Department of Geosciences, Pennsylvania State University
  • Alec Broers FRS, Former President of the Royal Academy of Engineering
  • Harry Elderfield FRS, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Cambridge
  • Joanna Haigh FRS, Professor of Atmospheric Physics, Imperial College London
  • Isaac Held (NAS), NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
  • John Kutzbach (NAS), Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin
  • Jerry Meehl, Senior Scientist, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • John Pendry FRS, Imperial College London
  • John Pyle FRS, Department of Chemistry, University of Cambridge
  • Gavin Schmidt, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
  • Emily Shuckburgh, British Antarctic Survey
  • Gabrielle Walker, Journalist
  • Andrew Watson FRS, University of East Anglia

Support

The Support for the 2014 Edition was provided by NAS Endowment Funds. We offer sincere thanks to the Ralph J. and Carol M. Cicerone Endowment for NAS Missions for supporting the production of this 2020 Edition.

Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
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FOR FURTHER READING

For more detailed discussion of the topics addressed in this document (including references to the underlying original research), see:

Much of the original data underlying the scientific findings discussed here are available at:

Image THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES (NAS) was established to advise the United States on scientific and technical issues when President Lincoln signed a Congressional charter in 1863. The National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, has issued numerous reports on the causes of and potential responses to climate change. Climate change resources from the National Research Council are available at nationalacademies.org/climate.
Image THE ROYAL SOCIETY is a self-governing Fellowship of many of the world’s most distinguished scientists. Its members are drawn from all areas of science, engineering, and medicine. It is the national academy of science in the UK. The Society’s fundamental purpose, reflected in its founding Charters of the 1660s, is to recognise, promote, and support excellence in science, and to encourage the development and use of science for the benefit of humanity. More information on the Society’s climate change work is available at royalsociety.org/policy/climate-change
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
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Image

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Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
×
Page 31
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
×
Page 32
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
×
Page 33
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"Conclusion." National Academy of Sciences. 2020. Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/25733.
×
Page 34
Climate Change: Evidence and Causes: Update 2020 Get This Book
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Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time. It is now more certain than ever, based on many lines of evidence, that humans are changing Earth's climate. The Royal Society and the US National Academy of Sciences, with their similar missions to promote the use of science to benefit society and to inform critical policy debates, produced the original Climate Change: Evidence and Causes in 2014. It was written and reviewed by a UK-US team of leading climate scientists. This new edition, prepared by the same author team, has been updated with the most recent climate data and scientific analyses, all of which reinforce our understanding of human-caused climate change.

Scientific information is a vital component for society to make informed decisions about how to reduce the magnitude of climate change and how to adapt to its impacts. This booklet serves as a key reference document for decision makers, policy makers, educators, and others seeking authoritative answers about the current state of climate-change science.

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