The science of climate change is a new publication from the Australian Academy of Science which aims to address the public confusion created by contradictory ‘information’ coming from a variety of non-scientific sources.
The document clarifies the current situation in climate science, including where there is consensus in the scientific community and where uncertainties exist. Importantly there are no uncertainties regarding the urgent need for adaptation measures in response to climate change that has already occurred. The fact that some additional global warming is now inevitable in the near future is also stressed. The more CO2 is emitted in the next few decades, the stronger the adaptation measures that will be needed in the future. There are also limits to the adaptive capacity of ecosystems and human societies:
“Thus, the decisions we make today on emissions will affect not only the future requirements for and costs of adaptation measures, but also their feasibility”.
In other words, if we delay cutting CO2 emissions for long enough, adaptation will become less feasible. The most crucial message from the Australian Academy of Science is “Adapt to survive”.
The information in this new document is unambiguous. Climate change is a problem right now and for current generations (not ‘just for the grandchildren’). We must now adapt to a changing climate and urgently reduce CO2 emissions while leaving a large fraction of available fossil fuel in the ground. The inevitable conclusion is that business as usual is simply not an option.