Increase in total heat wave days per summer, comparing 1970-2000 and 2040-2070. (Image: NOAA)
Increase in total heat wave days per summer, comparing 1970-2000 and 2040-2070. (Image: NOAA)

Governor Jerry Brown is joining some of the nation’s leading scientists on Thursday to release a “call to action” on climate change — an unusual step for the scientific community.

More than 500 scientists from around world signed a joint statement drafted by California scientists, in the hope of sending a unified message about the changing climate.

“One of the big points we’re trying to make is that there’s not debate about the reality of these issues,” says UC Berkeley paleontologist Anthony Barnosky.

The statement came about after Barnosky published a paper on climate change last year and got a phone call from Governor Brown.

“In the course of the conversation he said, ‘Well, if all this stuff is such a big deal, why aren’t scientists shouting about it?’” says Barnosky.

The 30-page statement says that within this century, the Earth could be warmer than the human species has ever experienced. An increase in extreme storms, droughts and heat waves could cost society billions of dollars in the next few decades. Biodiversity could also decline, with at least 20 to 40 percent of species at increased risk of going extinct by the end of the century.

“Scientists can only do so much. At some point, society has to decide whether they’re going to fix these problems or not,” Barnosky says. “The point we’re making is that now is decision time. Every day we wait makes the problem harder, so we need to start immediately.”

Despite the political rhetoric around climate change, Barnosky hopes their statement will help policymakers take on tough decisions about how to cut carbon emissions.

California Scientists Sign Consensus: ‘Don’t Ignore Climate Change’ 23 May,2013Lauren Sommer


Lauren Sommer

Lauren is a radio reporter covering environment, water, and energy for KQED Science. As part of her day job, she has scaled Sierra Nevada peaks, run from charging elephant seals, and desperately tried to get her sea legs – all in pursuit of good radio. Her work has appeared on Marketplace, Living on Earth, Science Friday and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. You can find her on Twitter at @lesommer.

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