Climate Change Risks Are Real, Warn Economists and Scientists

For the sake of future public health and safety, the debate surrounding climate change must shift from whether or not it is happening to what people can do to mitigate the risks associated with it, according to a team of scientists who recently launched a new initiative to increase public engagement in climate change action.

Thirteen of the country's leading climate change researchers representing a range of scientific fields have worked together to write a short report and launch an interactive website to help demystify aspects of climate change that scientists generally agree upon as fact.

The team hopes their wide array of expertise, representing many different fields of science, will help them make their case with the public.

This May 30, 2012 image provided by Ian Joughin shows an iceberg in or just outside the Ilulissat fjord, that likely calved from Jakobshavn Isbrae, the fastest glacier in west Greenland. Polar ice sheets are now melting three times faster than in the 1990s, but so far that's added just less than half an inch to already rising global sea levels, a new giant scientific study says. While the amount of sea level rise isn't as bad as some earlier worst case scenarios, the acceleration of the melting, especially in Greenland, has ice scientists worried. Ian Joughin / AP

"It is a bit unusual to have a collective group of people with these perspectives on climate science and expertise that ranges from the tropics to the Arctic, from the bottom of the ocean to the top of the atmosphere," team member James McCarthy, a biological oceanographer at Harvard University, told Live Science. "It is unusual to bring together so many different perspectives."

The team acknowledges that other similar climate initiatives have tried and largely failed to engage the public in the past, but hopes that their non-governmental affiliations and collective expertise will make a stronger impression than previous attempts have.

"From my perspective, you can't say this message enough times and in enough different ways before hoping to get some effects," team member Alan Leshner, CEO of AAAS, said during the press briefing.

The scientists have also consulted with economists to try to develop ways of creating financial incentives to motivate people to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take action against climate change.

-Laura Poppick, LIveScience

This is a condensed version of a story from LiveScience. Read the full report.

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