The Royal Society, the UK’s national academy of science, has today launched a new short guide to the science of climate change. The guide has been written to summarise the evidence and to clarify the levels of confidence associated with the current scientific understanding of climate change. It makes clear what is well-known and established about the climate system, what is widely agreed but with some debate about details, and what is still not well understood.
The Royal Society report presents a clear view of what we know. But it is just as important to communicate the unknowns as clearly as possible and in examining uncertainty we must not throw away the useful information provided. By converting uncertainty into probability we can begin to make sensible decisions about climate change.
All too often uncertainty in science offers a convenient excuse for delaying important decisions. Science has established that climate is changing and that the world will need to make substantial reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the next few decades if the worst impacts of dangerous climate change are to be avoided. The role of the Met Office and other scientists around the world will be to continue to press on in developing the emerging tools that will be used to underpin sensible adaptation and mitigation decisions which will determine all our futures.
The guide has been prepared by leading international scientists, mostly drawn from the Fellowship of the Society, including John Mitchell FRS, Director of Climate Science at the Met Office. It follows the publication of a number of other guides including by the Government Chief Scientific Advisor, Sir John Beddington, earlier this month, that also included input from leading Met Office scientists.