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Smithsonian publishes first official statement on climate change



The Smithsonian Institution, a renowned group of US museums and research centres, has published its first official statement on climate change, warning the world of its unsustainable course.

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Pointing to the wealth of evidence linking rising global temperatures to manmade emissions, the institution calls for more to be done to educate the public about the severity of the crisis.

“What we realised at the Smithsonian is that many people think that climate change is just an environmental topic,” said John Kress, acting undersecretary of science at the Smithsonian.

“It’s much more than that. Climate change will affect everything.”

The statement notes that climate change is not new to the Smithsonian, as its scholars have investigated its effects on natural systems for more than 160 years. 

However, the institution warns that climate change has become a problem that must be addressed, a problem of our own making. 

“The 500 Smithsonian scientists working around the world see the impact of a warming planet each day in the course of their diverse studies,” the statement reads. 

“A sample of our investigations includes anthropologists learning from the Native people of Alaska, who see warming as a threat to their 4,000-year-old culture; marine biologists tracking the impacts of climate change on delicate corals in tropical waters; and coastal ecologists investigating the many ways climate change is affecting the Chesapeake Bay.”

While pledging to ensure its own facilities and world-leading attractions are managed sustainably, the Smithsonian also speaks of its responsibility to educate the public, to help prevent climate chaos. 

“The urgency of climate change requires that we boost and expand our efforts to increase public knowledge and that we inspire others through education and by example,” the statement says.

“The Smithsonian is committed to helping our society make the wise choices needed to ensure that future generations inherit a diverse world that sustains our natural environments and our cultures for centuries to come.” 

The statement was released ahead of a symposium to be held by the Smithsonian on October 9, titled ‘Living in the Anthropocene: Prospects for Climate, Economics, Health, and Security’.

Bringing together experts from across the US, the symposium will debate how the world has entered the Anthropocene – “the age of humans”.

Photo: coaljoe via Flickr

Further reading:

Investors asked to disclose climate change risks

2013 Australian heatwave caused by climate change, studies argue

Climate change worsening California drought

Climate change is solvable and is ‘a great opportunity’

Study highlights health risks of climate change


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