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AAAS Reaffirms Statements on Climate Change and Integrity

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has reaffirmed the position of its Board of Directors and the leaders of 18 respected organizations, who concluded based on multiple lines of scientific evidence that global climate change caused by human activities is now underway, and it is a growing threat to society.

“The vast preponderance of evidence, based on years of research conducted by a wide array of different investigators at many institutions, clearly indicates that global climate change is real, it is caused largely by human activities, and the need to take action is urgent,” said Alan I. Leshner, chief executive officer of AAAS and executive publisher of the journal Science.

AAAS expressed grave concerns that the illegal release of private emails stolen from the University of East Anglia should not cause policy-makers and the public to become confused about the scientific basis of global climate change. Scientific integrity demands robust, independent peer review, however, and AAAS therefore emphasized that investigations are appropriate whenever significant questions are raised regarding the transparency and rigor of the scientific method, the peer-review process, or the responsibility of individual scientists. The responsible institutions are mounting such investigations.

AAAS is not itself an investigative body, Leshner emphasized, but the Association will carefully evaluate the conclusions of appropriate authorities who have been asked to review the emails. Selectively publicized language in messages exchanged over a number of years among several scientists has been interpreted by some to suggest unethical actions such as data manipulation or suppression.

“AAAS takes issues of scientific integrity very seriously,” Leshner said. “It is fair and appropriate to pursue answers to any allegations of impropriety. It’s important to remember, though, that the reality of climate change is based on a century of robust and well-validated science.”

The AAAS Board of Directors asserted in a statement issued 9 December 2006 that “the scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society.” Clear evidence of climate change is based upon “accumulating data from across the globe” that reveals “a wide array of effects: rapidly melting glaciers, increases in extreme weather, rising sea levels, shifts in species ranges, and more,” the AAAS Board reported. Reliable sensor data show an upturn in average temperatures for at least the past 30 years.

The AAAS Board noted that “the pace of change and the evidence of harm have increased markedly over the last five years. The time to control greenhouse gas emissions is now.”

AAAS joined the leaders of 17 other leading organizations in signing a letter sent 21 October 2009 to the U.S. Senate, emphasizing based upon rigorous research that human-induced climate change is ongoing and will have broad impacts on society—including the global economy and the environment.