POPA Ready to Hear from APS Membership on Climate Change Statement

By Tawanda W. Johnson, APS Press Secretary

During the week of April 6, APS members were sent an email with a link to a member website with the draft Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate. The site enables every APS member to comment on the draft. APS members can also access the statement online by using their APS Web username and password. The statement is not published in this article because it is not a public position of APS, and comments are only being collected via the APS website.

The draft statement is the result of a deliberative review of the APS Climate Change Statement. The Panel on Public Affairs (POPA), which developed the draft statement, is eager to receive input from the Society’s membership.

“We have taken great care throughout this process, including focusing on consensus building that has resulted in a solid, science-based statement,” said William Barletta, POPA chair. “We now look forward to hearing from the Society’s membership.”

POPA began reviewing the APS Climate Change Statement and Climate Change Commentary in fall 2013, in accordance with APS policy that requires statements to be formally reviewed every five years. POPA then proposed a subcommittee to initiate the review, and the APS Board approved the charge to the Review Subcommittee.

As part of the process, the Review Subcommittee convened a workshop on Jan. 8, 2014, with six climate experts. “We used this meeting to delve deeply into aspects of the IPCC consensus view of the physical basis of climate science,” said Barletta. “The Review Subcommittee’s goal was to illuminate for itself, for the APS membership, and for the broader public both the certainties and boundaries of the current climate science understanding.”

The Review Subcommittee presented the results of the workshop during the Feb. 7, 2014 POPA meeting. At POPA’s meeting the following June 6, its Energy and Environment Subcommittee presented an initial draft of a new statement. POPA then began the process of finalizing a draft for consideration by the APS Board and Council. On Oct. 10, POPA reported out a draft of the statement.

The APS Council reviewed the statement in November. On Feb. 21, 2015, the Board voted unanimously to forward the statement to the APS membership. “APS members currently have the opportunity to ask questions about the process and submit comments about the statement. POPA will also update an online FAQ that members can access via the APS website,” said Barletta.

If you have questions about the process by which the statement was developed, you can submit them to: statements@aps.org. Although there will not be an opportunity to respond to every question individually, a list of Frequently Asked Questions will be updated on a regular basis along with additional resource material. The last opportunity to submit questions will be on April 29; the last update of the FAQ is scheduled for May 1.

The member comment period will close on May 6. Every APS member will have one opportunity to comment, and submissions are final. All the APS member comments will be reviewed by POPA, and the statement may be modified accordingly. The draft statement will then be presented to the Board and Council for discussion. If approved by the Council, the statement will become the official position of the APS.