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American Geophysical Union Takes Strong Stand on Global Warming - 2003-12-19

One of the world's largest scientific organizations issued a strongly- worded statement December 16, that human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. The new policy shows a deepening concern over rising greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere.

The statement represents a consensus of the 41,000 members of the American Geophysical Union and was adopted unanimously by the group's governing council.

Marine scientist Ellen Druffel from the University of California, who served on the AGU committee that drafted the policy, said the confluence of opinion is no small achievement.

"Scientists are in general a conservative bunch," she said. "And to get the AGU council and this panel to agree unanimously that humans are changing climate, that in itself is significant."

The statement says atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide emissions, largely from automobiles, power plants and utilities, may be rising faster than any time in the earth's history.

It also says that increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases will cause global surface climate to warm.

At an international climate meeting in Milan last week the Bush administration said that the "science [of global warming] is flawed" and is "anything but certain."

In 2001 The United States withdrew its support from the Kyoto Protocol, the international agreement on global warming.

University of Alabama Climatologist John Christy also worked on the AGU statement. His research is often cited to support those skeptical of global warming. In defending the AGU statement, he said human impact on climate can not be ignored.

"It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, and putting dust and soot into the atmosphere, putting millions of acres of desert into irrigated agriculture, and putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, that in some way the natural source of the climate system has not been changed," he said. "As climate scientists you do come to the conclusion that basically this system is changing due to the things humans have done."

The new American Geophysical Society position echoes that of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released in 2001 which was written in collaboration with over 2,500 experts from across the globe.