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January 11, 2005

United Nations-Sigma Xi Experts Address Climate Change

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC — The world is warming, and human activity plays a significant role. While scientists typically shy away from pronouncing certainty, the vast preponderance of evidence has convinced the majority of scientists that carbon emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes are changing the climate.

Some questions do exist about how much and how fast these greenhouse gases are pushing the recent rise in temperatures. But within the scientific community there exists a broad consensus that a global response to climate change is necessary and that a wide range of options already exist to mitigate, or slow down, the warming trend and adapt to those impacts of climate change that are already underway.

So, to help develop a slate of practical policy responses, the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development and Sigma Xi have formed a Scientific Expert Group (UN-Sigma Xi SEG) to undertake a rigorous review of the existing scientific literature. The group will also discuss new and innovative ways to combat climate change.

The UN-Sigma Xi SEG kicked off that process at its inaugural meeting December 3-5, 2004 at the Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.

Over an 18-month period, the SEG will identify the most promising technologies








Nobel laureate Mario J. Molina is
part of a United Nations-Sigma Xi
Scientific Expert Group that is
developing practical responses to
global climate change. He is shown
here in the Sigma Xi Center Hall of Honor, which commemorates the
more than 200 Sigma Xi members who have won the Nobel Prize.

and methods the world can effectively employ,
and will make concise recommendations to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

The UN-Sigma Xi SEG includes experts from around the world, among them Nobel laureate Mario Molina, Sigma Xi past-president Peter Raven, and Zara Khatib of Shell International, representing a variety of scientific disciplines and backgrounds.

The UN-Sigma Xi SEG will not debate how much of climate change is attributable to human influence, and how much of it is the result of natural variability. Instead, the group will make actionable recommendations based on existing technologies and tailored to a range of social, political, economic and geographic circumstances. The UN-Sigma Xi SEG recommendations will be part of a written report delivered to representatives who sit on the UN Commission on Sustainable Development.

"The recommendations can then be deployed throughout the world to scale back various influences on climate change and to prepare for its effects," says Raven, director of the Missouri Botanical Garden. "Some degree of uncertainty will always be attached to the study of climate change, or almost any science, for that matter. But since science and economic considerations should inform the policies crafted to address climate change, decision makers must forego absolutes."

As the international honor society of science and engineering, Sigma Xi is in a unique position to bring together experts from different fields to consider practical ways of addressing global climate change. The Society's 500 chapters and more than 60,000 members also provide an effective network for disseminating information.

The UN-Sigma Xi SEG consists of:

Rosina Bierbaum, School of Natural Resources & Environment, Univ. of Michigan, USA
Ulisses Confalonieri, PMAGS/FIOCRUZ, Brazil
Jacques "Jack" Dubois, Swiss Re, Switzerland
James "Jae" Edmonds, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Joint Global Res. Inst. At Univ. of Maryland, USA
Alexander Ginzburg, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia
Peter Gleick, Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security, USA
John Holdren, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, USA
Zara Khatib, Shell International E & P, The Netherlands
Janice Lough, Australian Institute of Marine Science, Australia
Michael "Mike" MacCracken, Climate Institute, USA
Ajay Mathur, Senergy Global, India
Mario Molina, University of California-San Diego, USA
Keto Mshigeni, ZERI Regional Office for Africa, Namibia
Nebojsa "Naki" Nakicenovic, International Inst. for Applied Systems Analysis, Austria
Takian Oki, Institute of Industrial Science, University of Tokyo, Japan
Peter Raven, Missouri Botanical Garden, USA
Hans Joachim "John" Schellnhuber, Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, UK
Diana Ürge-Vorsatz, Dept. of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European Univ., Hungary
Dadi Zhou, Energy Research Institute, China


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