The Earth at risk

One of the world’s most widely known and respected senior scientists tells ABC News that current denial about the basic daunting realities of manmade global warming is “just foolishness.”
He also reports that the rest of the world has now “pretty well given up” on its hope for U.S. leadership in dealing with global climate change.

His assessment reinforces findings at the recent global climate summit in Durban, South Africa, that the vigorous anti-climate science movement in the United States has significantly damaged American prestige among European leaders who are struggling to deal with the daunting impacts of global warming.
Peter Raven, co-inventor in 1964, along with biologist Paul R. Ehrlich, of the bedrock concept of co-evolution, has long been a trusted adviser of American presidents, many other heads of state and government, religious leaders including popes, and countless congressional, academic and scientific leaders in the United States and around the world.

A frequent world traveler for his work, Raven reconfirmed in an email from the international Planet Under Pressure conference in London what he first told Natures’ Edge in 2010 in St. Louis.

When we asked, in the course of an interview on the occasion of his retirement after four decades as head of the Missouri Botanical Gardens, what he thought about the increasing claims of some parties in the United States that the science and alarm about manmade global warming was “a hoax” or greatly overblown, he responded patiently, “Oh, it’s just foolishness.”
“It’s not a matter of conjecture anymore,” he said. “Climate change is the most serious challenge probably that the human race has ever confronted.”

Raven quickly summarized the virtually unanimous understanding of the world’s climate scientists and other responsible experts about the great upheavals manmade global warming is now producing.

He talked to us outdoors, in the now world-famous, immense and exquisite gardens that, as the brief introduction to this video excerpt of his remarks shows, he had turned into an expansive vision of what a peaceful and balanced world could look like — a sort of international botanical metaphor.

“There is virtually unanimous consensus among the world’s scientists who work in the area that human beings are the major reason that this is so (the world’s average temperature rising),” writes Raven from London. “Because, just as first noted by the Swedish chemist Arrhenius in 1895, when you add more carbon dioxide or other co-called greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, you make it warmer.”
Academic and scientific surveys have repeatedly confirmed this view among the world’s climate scientists.
One detailed study, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” published in PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, July 6, 2010, focused on “an extensive dataset of 1,372 climate researchers.”
It found that “97-98 percent of the climate researchers most actively publishing in the field … supported the basic tenets of ACC (manmade global warming) established by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

It also determined that the minute number of detractors had significantly less standing in the field of climate science among their scientist peers.

It reported that “the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced of (those tenets of climate change) are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.”—ABCnews


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