Vatican Science Panel Calls Attention to the Threat of Glacial Melt
ScienceDaily (May 7, 2011) — A panel of some of the world's leading climate and glacier scientists co-chaired by a Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego researcher issued a report commissioned by the Vatican's Pontifical Academy of Sciences citing the moral imperative before society to properly address climate change.
The co-authors of "Fate of Mountain Glaciers in the Anthropocene" list numerous examples of glacial decline around the world and the evidence linking that decline to human-caused changes in climate and air pollution. The threat to the ways of life of people dependent upon glaciers and snow packs for water supplies compels immediate action to mitigate the effects of climate change and to adapt to what changes are happening now and are projected to happen in the future.
"We are committed to ensuring that all inhabitants of this planet receive their daily bread, fresh air to breathe and clean water to drink as we are aware that, if we want justice and peace, we must protect the habitat that sustains us," the authors write in a declaration prefacing the report. "The believers among us ask God to grant us this wish."
Scripps Climate and Atmospheric Scientist Veerabhadran Ramanathan co-chaired the working group with Nobel Laureate Paul Crutzen, formerly affiliated with Scripps and Lennart Bengtsson, former head of the European weather forecasting center. The group also included Nobel Laureate Carlo Rubbia, former director general of the CERN Laboratory. Among the rest of the 24 authors are Lonnie Thompson of Ohio State University, Wilfried Haeberli from Switzerland, Georg Kaser from Austria and Anil Kulkarni from India, considered among the world's foremost experts on glacial change. Former Scripps Director Charles Kennel and Scripps Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry Lynn Russell are also members of the working group.
"The widespread loss of snow and ice in the mountain glaciers is one of the most visible changes attributable to global climate change. The disintegration of many small glaciers in the Himalayas is most disturbing to me since this region serves as the water tower of Asia and since both the greenhouse gases and air pollutants like soot and ozone contribute to the melting," said Ramanathan, who has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences since 2004.
Report authors met at the Vatican from April 2 to April 4, 2011 under the invitation of Chancellor Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo of the pontifical academy. The report was issued by the Vatican and will be presented to Pope Benedict XVI.
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