Statement on Earth's Changing Climate

(Adopted by Council on November 14, 2015)

On Climate Change:
Earth's changing climate is a critical issue and poses the risk of significant environmental, social and economic disruptions around the globe. While natural sources of climate variability are significant, multiple lines of evidence indicate that human influences have had an increasingly dominant effect on global climate warming observed since the mid-twentieth century. Although the magnitudes of future effects are uncertain, human influences on the climate are growing. The potential consequences of climate change are great and the actions taken over the next few decades will determine human influences on the climate for centuries.

On Climate Science:
As summarized in the 2013 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), there continues to be significant progress in climate science. In particular, the connection between rising concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases and the increased warming of the global climate system is more compelling than ever. Nevertheless, as recognized by Working Group 1 of the IPCC, scientific challenges remain in our abilities to observe, interpret, and project climate changes. To better inform societal choices, the APS urges sustained research in climate science.

On Climate Action:
The APS reiterates its 2007 call to support actions that will reduce the emissions, and ultimately the concentration, of greenhouse gases as well as increase the resilience of society to a changing climate, and to support research on technologies that could reduce the climate impact of human activities. Because physics and its techniques are fundamental elements of climate science, the APS further urges physicists to collaborate with colleagues across disciplines in climate research and to contribute to the public dialogue.