Sigma Xi Statement on Climate Change

In November 2017, Sigma Xi convened its members and the public to discuss the global threat of climate change at the Society’s Symposium on Atmospheric Chemistry, Climate, and Health in Raleigh, North Carolina. During the meeting, Sigma Xi’s Board of Directors agreed to reaffirm its commitment to finding a solution to this problem through the following statement:

Scientific evidence continues to confirm that human activities are contributing to the warming of our planet. The byproducts of industrial development including carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have risen dramatically in recent decades leading to an overall increase in air and sea temperatures. The effects of this warming can be observed in increasing sea levels and atmospheric water vapor and decreases in mountain glacier and arctic ice mass, snow cover, and permafrost. Extreme weather-related events, such as droughts, heat waves, wildfires, large magnitude and intensity storms, floods, and blizzards, also appear to be associated with global warming. Left unresolved, the impact on ecosystems and human quality of life may be devastating. 

Whereas human civilization and activity has occurred during a period of what we now know has been a tolerable and relatively stable climate, the scale and efficiency with which we are extracting and burning carbon-rich fuel sources have created conditions outside the range of modern human experience. Risks to human health are among the most threatening of global warming-associated climate change, and are accelerating. These concerns in conjunction with impacts on ecosystems, urbanized areas, and community infrastructure contribute to heightened compulsion to act. 

The escalating urgency of responding to anthropogenic climate change underscores the critical need to support:

  1. Climate scientists as they monitor and warn us of an ever-more unstable climate regime and to plan for the extreme consequences that will inevitably follow on the present path

  2. Global cooperation and collaboration on research and education to collectively reduce carbon emissions through technology and behavioral choices

  3. Policies and investments that enable technological solutions to be developed and deployed

Sigma Xi’s commitment to improving the human condition through science and engineering necessitates that we call on national and international leaders to pursue aggressive actions to reduce carbon emissions and to develop adaptive measures to protect all people from the threats associated with global warming.