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COLLEGE PARK, MD, November, 10, 2021 — The Council of the American Physical Society (APS) today approved a revised Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate. The statement, which has undergone a meticulous process of draft and review, unequivocally implicates human activities as the “dominant driver” of global warming.
“Physicists have been essential to advancing our understanding of the climate system and humanity's impact on it,” said APS President Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr. “With this new statement, APS renews its call for sustained research in climate science and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Citing new evidence from recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, the APS statement—which represents the collective voice of its more than 50,000 members—notes that our understanding of the physical basis of climate change has improved immensely. However, there remain critical gaps in our knowledge of climate science that physicists, in partnership with other scientists, are ready to address. APS is joining with other leading scientific organizations to call on physicists and governments to contribute their expertise and resources in support of a global green economy.
“This is a wakeup call for the scientific community and society at large,” said APS Chief External Affairs Officer Francis Slakey. “As the UN climate change conference concludes this week, APS continues to do its part to combat climate change.”
In 2017, APS became the first US scientific society to broadly assess and then publish an inventory of its greenhouse gas emissions. Since then, the Society has worked diligently to understand the sources of emissions from its daily operations and how to reduce them. By calculating the carbon footprint of its scientific meetings, for example, APS is now making emissions-informed decisions about future meeting locations.
In the political realm, the APS Office of Government Affairs recently ran a grassroots campaign that helped overturn the Trump Administration's rollback of regulations on emissions of methane—the primary component of natural gas with more than 25 times the heat-trapping potential of carbon dioxide. APS members are also collaborating on a campaign to counter misinformation on scientific issues such as climate change.
APS now employs a primarily remote workforce, which is expected to reduce emissions from employee commuting.
“These are steps we are taking to address what is arguably the most complex, urgent, and consequential scientific and technological challenge of our time,” said APS CEO Jonathan Bagger. “The impact of human activities on the climate system is continuing to grow, and the actions we take over the next few decades will reverberate for centuries.”
The 2021 Statement on Earth’s Changing Climate can be found online at https://aps.org/policy/statements/21_4.cfm
The American Physical Society is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents more than 50,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.