The world of science has become increasingly polarized as scientists and supporters of climate policy disagree whether the Earth is warming, the amount of warming, that it is caused by human activity or all three. A recent Pew poll showed 64 percent of Americans believe global warming is caused by human activity.
One of the reasons scientists support climate action is because it can affect their lives—and the lives of their families. But how and where the Earth will be warmer when we reach peak emissions of carbon?
Scientists have some key ideas—the most important and promising being carbon neutrality—understanding the extent of global climate change and the ways it may be addressed, with technology, through carbon trading and mitigation. But most scientists want to know, more importantly, how to reduce emissions and, if the answer is clear, how to implement it at all.
Scientists, like everyone else, want to live in a healthy, happy, stable and prosperous society—to be good neighbors to friends and relatives, to share with others, and contribute to our shared efforts toward a safer world. That’s why there is tremendous interest in this topic among policymakers, policy and advocacy groups, scientific researchers, private-sector organizations, and the general public.
We also need people who are trained in climate science to become the voices and hands of the people who will do the hard thinking and the work. It’s a call for science-based solutions that include people, a healthy population (at least 3 billion people), a strong economic economy and a low-carbon future.
Climate and energy policies
Global climate change is the greatest threat to our planet, our species and our way of life. The world’s nations are moving to limit warming below pre-industrial levels, but the challenges are enormous, and the science must be right.
To achieve carbon neutrality, we need a comprehensive and low-carbon climate policy. It must include significant emissions reductions—both in individual countries and internationally. It needs to be global, not regional or national, and it must include clean, affordable energy for all. It should achieve a climate and energy transition. It must be a public policy to promote social equity, promote opportunity and economic stability, and support human rights, diversity and democracy. It must promote renewable, low-carbon technologies. It must address the economic, political, social, demographic, governance, cultural and environmental dimensions.
To help scientists prepare for this political and scientific moment, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine of the
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