The world’s climate scientists have spoken and it would be prudent for our elected leaders to listen–especially those whose standard response to media and voter questions about climate change has been “I am not a scientist.” You don’t have to be a scientist to understand what is happening to our climate and recognize the need for action.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just released its Fifth Assessment Report. This is its first full IPCC report since 2007 and represents the culmination of five years of work by 2000 scientists combing through 30,000 studies.

The Report concludes with a 95 percent certainty that man-made greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are responsible for most, if not all, global warming since the 1950s and that those emissions have pushed atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide to levels “unprecedented” in the past 800,000 years.

It also concludes that the adverse impacts of this climate change are being felt now, and include massive forest die-offs, more frequent and severe heat waves, melting of land ice, changes in precipitation patterns and acidification of the oceans.

The report calls for urgent action to reduce global GHG emissions and says failure to do so will inevitably lead to a drastically altered climate, along with mass extinction of plants and animals, extreme precipitation events, flooding of major cities, island nations lost to sea level rise, extreme heat, and drought–all leading to food shortages, displaced populations and tremendous economic loss.

Decision makers have a moral responsibility to take these dire warnings seriously and work constructively towards solutions.

In 1988 President Reagan, when faced with warnings from climate scientists about a dangerous erosion of earth’s protective ozone layer from the use of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), he responded by pushing through an international treaty to phase-out of CFCs.

We deserve that same kind prudent leadership from our leaders today.

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