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US scientists call for stronger leadership on climate change

The American Association for the Advancement of Science called on political leaders to show „stronger leadership” to tackle climate change, which the group described as a „growing threat to society.”

„The growing torrent of information presents a clear message: we are already experiencing global climate change,” the AAAS said in a statement released yesterday at its annual meeting in San Francisco. „It is time to muster the political will for concerted action. Stronger leadership at all levels is needed.” The statement comes less than three weeks after the United Nations released a report in which governments and scientists from around the world accepted that global warming is at least 90% likely the result of human activities, and warned that sea-levels may rise by 18 to 59 centimeters (7 to 23 inches) by 2100, with temperatures heating up by 1.1 to 6.4 degrees Celsius.

Governments need to embark on an „aggressive research, development and deployment” effort to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases that are blamed for the warming planet, in order to stave off climate change that may become more devastating with time, the scientists said. „Intensification of droughts, heat waves, floods, wildfires, and severe storms is occurring, with a mounting toll on vulnerable ecosystems and societies,” the group said. „These events are early warning signs of even more devastating damage to come, some of which will be irreversible.” Founded in 1848, the AAAS brings together more than 250 affiliated groups and academies of science, serving more than 10 million people. It also publishes Science, one of the most influential scientific journals, with a readership of a million. Its current president, John Holdren, is a professor of environmental science at Harvard University.

The US has cited economic reasons for not ratifying the main global treaty on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Kyoto Protocol. Under the protocol, 35 countries and the European Union agreed to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by a combined 5% from 1990 levels by the 2008-2012 period. A successor to Kyoto, effective after 2012, hasn't yet been agreed. „Delaying action to address climate change will increase the environmental and societal consequences as well as the costs,” the AAAS said. „The longer we wait to tackle climate change, the harder and more expensive the task will be.” The statement, which was posted on the group's Web Site, was approved by the AAAS board in December. (Bloomberg)