Statements of consensus from the world's scientists

compiled by Dr J Floor Anthoni (2001-..)

Whenever scientists resort to statements of consensus over concerns about this and that, they usually do not have sufficient scientific facts and understanding, while wishing to wield political influence. In other words, they want to scare people into action. Such consensus statements must therefore be received with the utmost suspicion. Often the many signatories are not experts in the field. On this page we have collected several consensus statements, and time will prove these either right or wrong. This page is updated from time to time.


“I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you ’re being had. Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics.
Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.” - Michael Crichton in a speech at Caltech in 2003

"It doesn't take 100 scientists to prove me wrong, it takes a single fact'." - Albert Einstein

Scientists use consensus statements when they wish to achieve political goals,
for which they have insufficient evidence. - Floor Anthoni, 2001

-- Seafriends home -- conservation -- Revised: 20010630,20010906,20030505,20031211,20051219,20090321,20090718


The World's Scientists' Warning to Humanity

In 1992, some 1575 scientists signed The World's Scientists' Warning to Humanity, which calls attention to the pressing environmental issues facing the natural world and emphasizes the need for immediate action in order to avert disaster. Co-ordinated by Dr Henry Kendall, Nobel laureate and chairman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the following document present the consensus of many of the world's most distinguished scientists, including more than half of all living scientists awarded the Nobel Prize.

Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course. Human activities inflict harsh and often irreversible damage on the environment and on critical resources. If not checked, many of our current practices put at risk the future that we wish for human society and the plant and animal kingdoms, and may so alter the living world what it will be unable to sustain life in the manner that we know. fundamental changes are urgent if we are to avoid the collision our present course will bring about.

The environment
The environment is suffering critical stress:

The atmosphere
Stratospheric ozone depletion threatens us with enhanced ultraviolet radiation at the earth's surface, which can be damaging or lethal to many life forms. Air pollution near ground level, and acid precipitation, are already causing widespread injury to humans, forests and crops.

Water resources
Heedless exploitation of depletable groundwater supplies endangers food production and other essential human systems. Heavy demands on the world's surface waters have resulted in serious shortages in some 80 countries, containing 40% of the world's population. Pollution of rivers, lakes, and groundwater further limits this supply.

Destructive pressure on the oceans is severe, particularly in the coastal regions, which produce most of the world's food fish. The total marine catch is now at or above the estimated maximum sustainable yield. Some fisheries have already shown signs of collapse. Rivers carrying heavy burdens of eroded soil into the seas also carry industrial, municipal, agricultural, and livestock waste - some of it toxic.

Tropical rain forests, as well as tropical and temperate dry forests, are being destroyed rapidly. At present rates, some critical forest types will be gone in a few years, and most of the tropical rain forest will be gone before the end of the next century. With them will go large numbers of plant and animal species.

Living species
The irreversible loss of species, which by 2100 may reach one-third of all species now living, is especially serious. We are losing the potential they hold for providing medicinal and other benefits, and the contribution that genetic diversity of life forms gives to the robustness of the world's biological systems and to the astonishing beauty of the earth itself.

Much of this damage is irreversible on a scale of centuries or [is] permanent. Other processes appear to pose additional threats. Increasing levels of gases in the atmosphere from human activities, including carbon dioxide  released from fossil fuel burning and from deforestation, may alter climate on a global scale. Predictions of global warming are still uncertain - with projected effects ranging from tolerable to very severe - but potential risks are very great.

Our massive tampering with the world's interdependent web of life - coupled with the environmental damage inflicted by deforestation, species loss, and climate change - could trigger widespread adverse effects, including unpredictable collapses of critical biological systems whose interactions and dynamics we only imperfectly understand. Uncertainty over the extent of these effects cannot excuse complacency or delay in facing the threats.
The earth is finite. Its ability to absorb wastes and destructive effluent is finite. Its ability to provide food and energy is finite. And we are fast approaching many of the earth's limits. Current economic practices that damage the environment, in both developed and underdeveloped nations, cannot be continued without the risk that vital global systems will be damaged beyond repair.

Pressures resulting from unrestrained population growth put demands on the natural world that can overwhelm any efforts to achieve a sustainable future. If we are to halt the destruction of our environment, we must accept limits to that growth. A World Bank estimate indicates that world populations will not stabilize at less than 12.4 billion, while the United Nations concludes that the eventual total could reach 14 billion, a near tripling of today's 5.4 billion. But, even at this moment, one person in five lives in absolute poverty without enough to eat, and one in ten suffers serious malnutrition.

No more than one or a few decades remain before the chance to avert the threats we now confront will be lost and the prospects for humanity immeasurably diminished.
We, the undersigned, senior members of the world's scientific community, hereby warn all humanity of what lies ahead. A great change in our stewardship of the earth and the life on it is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.

What we must do
Five inextricably linked areas must be addressed simultaneously:

  1. We must bring environmentally damaging activities under control to restore and protect the integrity of the earth's systems we depend on.

  2. We must, for example, move away from fossil fuels to more benign, inexhaustible energy  sources to cut greenhouse gas emissions and the pollution of our air and water. Priority must be given to the development of energy sources matched to Third World needs - small scale and relatively easy to implement.
    We must halt deforestation, injury to and loss of agricultural land, and the loss of terrestrial and marine plant and animal species.
  3. We must manage resources crucial to human welfare more effectively. We must give high priority to efficient use of energy, water, and other materials, including expansion of conservation and recycling.
  4. We must stabilize population. This will be possible only if all nations recognize that it requires improved social and economic conditions, and the adoption of effective, voluntary family planning.
  5. We must reduce and eventually eliminate poverty.
  6. We must ensure sexual equality, and guarantee women control over their own reproductive decisions.
The developed nations are the largest polluters in the world today. They must greatly reduce their overconsumption if we are to reduce pressures on resources and the global environment. The developed nations have the obligation to provide aid and support to developing nations, because only the developed nations have the financial resources and the technical skills for these tasks.

Action on this recognition is not altruism, but enlightened self-interest: whether industrialized or not, we all have but one lifeboat. No nation can escape from injury when global biological systems are damaged. No nation can escape from conflicts over increasingly scarce resources. In addition, environmental and economic instabilities will cause mass migrations with incalculable consequences for developed and undeveloped nations alike.

Developing nations must realize that environmental damage is one of the greatest threats they face and that attempts to blunt it will be overwhelmed if their populations go unchecked. The greatest peril is to become trapped in spirals of environmental decline, poverty, and unrest, leading to social, economic and environmental collapse.

Success in this global endeavor will require a great reduction in violence and war Resources now devoted to the preparation and conduct of war - amounting to over US$ 1 trillion annually - will be badly needed in the new tasks and should be diverted tot he new challenges.

A new ethic is required - a new attitude toward discharging our responsibility for caring for ourselves and for the earth. We must recognize its fragility. We must no longer allow it to be ravaged. This ethic must motivate a great movement, convincing reluctant leaders and reluctant governments and reluctant peoples themselves to effect the needed changes. The scientists issuing this warning hope that out message will reach and affect people everywhere. We need the help of many.

We require the help of the world community of scientists - natural, social, economic, political.
We require the help of the world's business and industrial leaders.
We require the help of the world's religious leaders.
We require the help of the world's peoples.
We call on all to join us in this task.

[Followed by a list of signatories, including 104 Nobel laureates - a majority of the living recipients of the Prize in the sciences - have signed it so far. These men and women represent 71 countries, including all of the 19 largest economic powers, all of the 12 most populous nations, 12 countries in Africa, 14 in Asia, 19 in Europe, and 12 in Latin America.]

From Paul & Anne Ehrlich: Betrayal of Science and reason,  Island Press, 1996.


Statement by 58 of the world's scientific academies

In 1993, fifty-six of the world's scientific academies (including the US National Academy) came together in a 'Science Summit' on world population. The conference was an outgrowth of two earlier meetings, one by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, the other by the Royal Society of London and the U S National Academy of Sciences. At both meetings, urgent concern was expressed for the expanding world population and a commitment was made to continue discourse on matters related to population growth. 
The resulting 1993 Science Summit - the first large-scale collaborative activity ever undertaken by the world's scientific academies - set as its primary goal the formulation of a statement to be presented at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994. The statement, reprinted below, underscores the need for government policies and initiatives that will help achieve 'zero population growth within the lifetime of our children'.

[October 1993, Delhi, India]
The growing world population
The world is in the midst of an unprecedented expansion of human numbers. It took hundreds of thousands of years for our species to reach a population level of 10 million, only 10,000 years ago. This number grew to 100 million people about 2,000 years ago and to 2.5 billion by 1950. Within less than the span of a single lifetime, it has more than doubled to 5.5 billion in 1993.
This accelerated population growth resulted from rapidly lowered death rates (particularly infant mortality rates), combined with sustained high birth rates. Success in reducing death rates is attributable to several factors: increases in food production and distribution, improvements in public health (water and sanitation) and in medical technology (vaccines and antibiotics), along with gains in education and standards of living within many developing nations.

Over the past 30 years, many regions of the world have also dramatically reduced birth rates. Some have already achieved family sizes small enough, if maintained, to result eventually in a halt to population growth. The successes have led to a slowing of the world's rate of population increase. The shift from high to low death and birth rates has been called the 'demographic transition'.

The rate at which the demographic transition progresses world-wide will determine the ultimate level of the human population. The lag between downward shifts of death and birth rates may be many decades or even several generations, and during these periods population growth will continue inexorably. We face the prospect of a further doubling of the population within the next half century. Most of this growth will take place in developing countries.

Consider three hypothetical scenarios for the levels of human population in the century ahead:

The actual outcome will have enormous implications for the human condition and for the natural environment on which all life depends.
Key determinants of population growth
High fertility rates have historically been strongly correlated with poverty, high childhood mortality rates, low status and educational levels of women, deficiencies in reproductive health services, and inadequate availability and acceptance of contraceptives. Falling fertility rates and the demographic transition are generally associated with improved standards of living, such as increased per capita incomes, increased life expectancy, lowered infant mortality, increased adult literacy, and higher rates of female education and employment.

Even with improved economic conditions, nations, regions, and societies will experience different demographic patterns due to varying cultural influences. The value placed upon large families (especially among underprivileged rural populations in less-developed countries that benefit least from the process of development), the assurance of security for the elderly, the ability of women to control reproduction, and the status and rights of women within families and within societies are significant cultural factors affecting family size and the demand for family planning services.

Even with a demand for family planning services, the adequate availability of and access to family planning and other reproductive health services are essential in facilitating slowing of the population growth rate. Also, access to education and the ability of women to determine their own economic security influence their reproductive decisions.
Population growth, resource consumption and the environment
Throughout history, and especially during the twentieth century, environmental degradation has primarily been a product of our efforts to secure improved standards of food, clothing, shelter, comfort, and recreation for growing numbers of people. The magnitude of the threat to the ecosystem is linked to human population size and resource use per person.
Resource use, waste production, and environmental degradation are accelerated by population growth. They are further exacerbated by consumption habits, certain technological developments, and particular patterns of social organization and resource management.

As human numbers further increase, the potential for irreversible changes of far-reaching magnitude also increases. Indicators of severe environmental stress include the growing loss of biodiversity, increasing greenhouse gas emission, increasing deforestation worldwide, stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, loss of topsoil, and shortages of water, food, and fuel wood in many parts of the world.

While both developed and developing countries have contributed to global environmental problems, developed countries with 85 percent of the gross world product and 23 percent of its population account for the largest part of mineral and fossil -fuel consumption, resulting in significant environmental impacts. With current technologies, present levels of consumption by the developed world are likely to lead to serious negative consequences for all countries. This is especially apparent with the increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide and trace gases that have accompanied industrialization, which have the potential for changing global climate and raising sea level.

In both rich and poor countries, local environmental problems arise from direct pollution from energy use and other industrial activities, inappropriate agricultural practices, population concentration, inadequate environmental management, and inattention to environmental goals. When current economic production has been the overriding priority and inadequate attention has been given to environmental protection, local environmental damage has led to serious negative impacts on health and major impediments to future economic growth. Restoring the environment, even where still possible, is far more expensive and time consuming than managing it wisely in the first place; even rich countries have difficulty in affording extensive environmental remediation efforts.

The relationships between human population, economic development, and the natural environment are complex. Examination of local and regional case studies reveals the influence and interaction of many variables. For example, environmental and economic impacts vary with population composition and distribution, and with rural-urban and international migrations. Furthermore, poverty and lack of economic opportunities stimulate faster population growth and increase incentives for environmental degradation by encouraging exploitation of marginal resources.

Both developed and developing countries face a great dilemma in orienting their productive activities in the direction of a more harmonious interaction with nature. This challenge is accentuated by the uneven stages of development. If all people of the world consumed fossil fuels and other natural resources at the rate now characteristic of developed countries (and with current technologies), this would greatly intensify our already unsustainable demands on the biosphere. Yet development is a legitimate expectation of less-developed and transitional countries.
The Earth is finite
The growth of population over the past half century was for a time matched by a similar worldwide increases in utilizable resources. However, in the past decade food production from both the land and sea has declined relative to population growth. The area of agricultural land has shrunk, both through soil erosion and reduced possibilities of irrigation. The availability of water is already a constraint in some countries. These are warnings that the Earth is finite, and that natural systems are being pushed ever closer to their limits.

Quality of life and the environment
Our common goal is improving the quality of life for all people, those living today and succeeding generations, ensuring their social, economic and personal well-being with guarantees of fundamental human rights, and allowing them to live harmoniously with a protected environment.
We believe that this goal can be achieved, provided we are willing to undertake the requisite social change. Given time, political will, and intelligent use of science and technology, human ingenuity can remove many constraints on improving human welfare worldwide, finding substitutes for wasteful practices, and protecting the natural environment.

But the time is short and appropriate policy decisions are urgently needed. The ability of humanity to reap the benefits of its ingenuity depends on its skill in governance and management, and on strategies for dealing with problems such as widespread poverty, increased numbers of aged persons, inadequate health care and limited educational opportunities for large groups of people, limited capital for investment, environmental degradation in every region of the world, and unmet needs for family planning services in both developing and developed countries. In our judgement, humanity's ability to deal successfully with its social, economic, and environmental problems will require the achievement of zero population growth within the lifetime of our children.
Human reproductive health
The timing and spacing of pregnancies are important for the health of the mother, her children and her family. Most maternal deaths are due to unsafe practices in terminating pregnancies, a lack of readily available services for high-risk pregnancies, and women having too many children or having them too early and too late in life.
Millions of people still do not have adequate access to family planning services and suitable contraceptives. Only about one-half of married couples of reproductive age are currently practicing contraception. Yet as the director-general of UNICEF put it, "Family planning could bring more benefits to more people at less cost than any other single technology now available to the human race." Existing contraceptive methods could go far toward alleviating the unmet need if they were available and used in sufficient numbers, through a variety of channels of distribution, sensitively adapted to local needs.

But most contraceptives are for use by women, who consequently bear the risks to health. The development of contraceptives for male use continues to lag. Better contraceptives are needed for both men and women, but developing new contraceptive approaches is slow and financially unattractive to industry. Further work is needed on an ideal spectrum of contraceptive methods that are safe, efficacious, easy to use and deliver, reasonably priced, user-controlled and responsive, appropriate for special populations and age cohorts, reversible, and at least some of which protect against sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS.

Reducing fertility rates, however, cannot be achieved merely by providing more contraceptives. The demand for these services has to be addressed. Even when family planning and other reproductive health services are widely available, the social and economic status of women affects individual decisions to use them. The ability of women to make decisions about family size is greatly affected by gender roles within society and in sexual relationships. Ensuring equal opportunity for women in all aspects of society is crucial.

Thus all reproductive health services must be implemented as a part of broader strategies to raise the quality of human life. They must include the following:

"The adoption of a smaller family norm, with consequent decline in total fertility, should not be viewed only in demographic terms. It means that people, and particularly women, are empowered and are taking control of their fertility and the planning of their lives; it means that children are born by choice, not by chance, and that births are better planned; and it means that families are able to invest relatively more in a smaller number of beloved children, trying to prepare them for a better future."
[Mahmoud F Fathalla: Family planning and reproductive health, a global overview. Invited paper presented at the 1993 Science Summit, Delhi, India, 26 October 1993.]
Sustainability of the natural world is everyone's responsibility
In addressing environmental problems, all countries face hard choices. This is particularly so when it is perceived that there are short-term trade-offs between economic growth and environmental protection, and where there are limited financial resources. But the downside risks to the earth - our environmental life support system - over the next generation and beyond are too great to ignore. Current trends in environmental degradation from human activities combined with the unavoidable increase in global population will take us into unknown territory.

Other factors, such as inappropriate governmental policies, also contribute in nearly every case. Many environmental problems in both rich and poor countries appear to be the result of policies that are misguided even when viewed on short-term economic grounds. If a longer-term view is taken, environmental goals assume an even higher priority.

The prosperity and technology of the industrialized countries give them greater opportunities and greater responsibility for addressing environmental problems worldwide. Their resources make it easier to forestall and to ameliorate local environmental problems. Developed countries need to become more efficient in both resource use and wasteful consumption. If prices, taxes and regulatory policies include environmental costs, consumption habits will be influenced. The industrialized countries need to assist developing countries and communities with funding and expertise in combating both global and local environmental problems. Mobilizing 'technology for environment' should be an integral part of this new ethic of sustainable development.

For all governments it is essential to incorporate environmental goals at the outset in legislation, economic planning, and priority setting; and to provide appropriate incentives for public and private institutions, communities, and individuals to operate in environmentally benign ways. Trade-offs between environmental and economic goals can be reduced through wise policies. For dealing with global environmental problems, all countries of the world need to work collectively through treaties and conventions, as has occurred with such issues as global climate change and biodiversity, and to develop innovative financing mechanisms that facilitate environmental protection.
What science and technology can contribute toward enhancing the human prospect
As scientists cognizant of the history of scientific progress and aware of the potential of science for contributing to human welfare, it is our collective judgement that continuing population growth poses a great risk to humanity. Furthermore, it is not prudent to rely on science and technology alone to solve problems created by rapid population growth, wasteful resource consumption, and poverty.

The natural and social sciences are nevertheless crucial for developing new understanding so that governments and other institutions act more effectively, and for developing new options for limiting population growth, protecting the natural environment, and improving the quality of human life.

Scientists, engineers, and health professionals should study and provide advice on:

From Paul & Anne Ehrlich: Betrayal of Science and reason,  Island Press, 1996.

Troubled Waters: A Call for Action
A consensus reached at the opening of the International Year of the Oceans, 1998

We, the undersigned marine scientists and conservation biologists, call upon the world’s citizens and governments to recognize that the living sea is in trouble and to take decisive action. We must act quickly to stop further severe, irreversible damage to the sea’s biological diversity and integrity.

Marine ecosystems are home to many phyla that live nowhere else. As vital components of our planet’s life support systems, they protect shorelines from flooding, break down wastes, moderate climate and maintain a breathable atmosphere. Marine species provide a livelihood for millions of people, food, medicines, raw materials and recreation for billions, and are instrinsically important.

Life in the world’s estuaries, coastal waters, enclosed seas and oceans is increasingly threatened by:

  1. overexploitation of species
  2. physical alteration of ecosystems
  3. pollution
  4. introduction of alien species
  5. global atmospheric change.
Scientists have documented the extinction of marine species, disappearance of ecosystems and loss of resources worth billions of dollars. Overfishing has eliminated all but a handful of California’s white abalones. Swordfish fisheries have collapsed as more boats armed with better technology chase ever fewer fish. Northern right whales have not recovered six decades after their exploitation supposedly ceased. Cyanide and dynamite fishing are destroying the world’s richest coral reefs. Bottom trawling is scouring continental shelf seabeds from the poles to the tropics. Mangrove forests are vanishing. Logging and farming on hillsides are exposing soils to rains that wash silt into the sea, killing kelps and reef corals. Nutrients from sewage and toxic chemicals from industry are overnourishing and poisoning estuaries, coastal waters and enclosed seas. Millions of seabirds have been oiled, drowned by longlines, and deprived of nesting beaches by development and nest-robbing cats and rats. Alien species introduced intentionally or as stowaways in ships’ ballast tanks have become dominant species in marine ecosystems around the world. Reef corals are succumbing to diseases or undergoing mass bleaching in many places. There is no doubt that the sea’s biological diversity and integrity are in trouble.

 To reverse this trend and avert even more widespread harm to marine species and ecosystems, we urge citizens and governments worldwide to take the following five steps:

  1. Identify and provide effective protection to all populations of marine species that are significantly depleted or declining, take all measures necessary to allow their recovery, minimize bycatch, end all subsidies that encourage overfishing and ensure that use of marine species is sustainable in perpetuity.
  2. Increase the number and effectiveness of marine protected areas so that 20% of Exclusive Economic Zones and the Highs Seas are protected from threats by the Year 2020.
  3. Ameliorate or stop fishing methods that undermine sustainability by harming the habitats of economically valuable marine species and the species they use for food and shelter.
  4. Stop physical alternation of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems that harms the sea, minimize pollution discharged at sea or entering the sea from the land, curtail introduction of alien marine species and prevent further atmospheric changes that threaten marine species ecosystems.
  5. Provide sufficient resources to encourage natural and social scientists to undertake marine conservation biology research needed to protect, restore and sustainably use life in the sea.
Nothing happening on Earth threatens our security more than the destruction of our living systems. The situation is so serious that leaders and citizens cannot afford to wait even a decade to make major progress toward these goals. To maintain, restore and sustainably use the sea’s biological diversity and the essential products and services that it provides, we must act now.

end of statement

A copy of the statement can also be found at MCBI’s website:

Annual Meeting of the American Association For the Advancement of the Sciences (AAAS)
17 Feb 2001


At the 1997 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a symposium on marine protected areas reviewed the state of the oceans, raised a number of unresolved critical scientific issues and identified research priorities.  In response, an international team of scientists was convened at the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) and charged with developing better scientific understanding of marine protected areas and marine reserves.  Conclusions from the two-and-a-half-year efforts of this working group are in press in a special issue of the journal Ecological Applications. This Scientific Consensus Statement is based upon those results and other research already published elsewhere.  The Statement is a joint effort of the NCEAS scientists and the academic scientists participating in a meeting on marine reserves convened by COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea). This Statement was drafted in response to repeated requests by many fishermen, marine resource managers, governmental officials, conservation activists, interested citizens and others for a succinct, non-technical but scientifically accurate summary of the current scientific knowledge about marine reserves. Additional information on the history of this Statement, NCEAS and COMPASS appears after the Statement.

New Approaches Are Needed
The declining state of the oceans and the collapse of many fisheries have created a critical need for new and more effective management of marine biodiversity, populations of exploited species and overall health of the oceans.  Marine reserves are a highly effective but under-appreciated and under-utilized tool that can help alleviate many of these problems.  At present, less than 1% of United States territorial waters and less than 1% of the world’s oceans are protected in reserves.

What are Marine Reserves?
Marine Reserves (MRVs) are areas of the sea completely protected from all extractive activities.  Within a reserve, all biological resources are protected through prohibitions on fishing and the removal or disturbance of any living or non-living marine resource, except as necessary for monitoring or research to evaluate reserve effectiveness.  Marine reserves are sometimes called “ecological reserves,” “fully-protected marine reserves,” or “no-take areas.”  MRVs are a special category of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).  MPAs are areas designated to enhance conservation of marine resources.  The actual level of protection within MPAs varies considerably; most allow some extractive activities such as fishing, while prohibiting others such as drilling for oil or gas.  A Network of Marine Reserves is a set of MRVs within a biogeographic region, connected by larval dispersal and juvenile or adult migration.


The first formal marine reserves were established more than two decades ago. Recent analyses of the changes occurring within these MRVs allow us to make the following conclusions:

Ecological effects within reserve boundaries:

Ecological effects outside reserve boundaries: In the few studies that have examined spillover effects, the size and abundance of exploited species increase in areas adjacent to reserves.

Ecological effects of reserve networks:
There is increasing evidence that a network of reserves buffers against the vagaries of environmental variability and provides significantly greater protection for marine communities than a single reserve. An effective network needs to

This Scientific Consensus Statement is signed by 161 leading marine scientists and experts on marine reserves.  Signatories all hold Ph.D. degrees and are employed by academic institutions.  Names and affiliations of signatories appear on pages 5 - 12 (Removed from this document)

This Statement was drafted in response to repeated requests by many fishermen, marine resource managers, governmental officials, conservation activists, interested citizens and others for a succinct, non-technical but scientifically accurate summary of the current scientific knowledge about marine reserves.

The Statement is based on work conducted primarily by the NCEAS Working Group on Marine Reserves, co-chaired by Jane Lubchenco, Stephen R. Palumbi and Steven D. Gaines.  The National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS - <>) is a scientific institution funded by the National Science Foundation, the State of California and the University of California, Santa Barbara. The mission of NCEAS is to advance the state of ecological knowledge through the search for general patterns and principles and to organize and synthesize ecological information in a manner useful to researchers, resource managers, and policy makers addressing important environmental issues. The Working Group on Marine Reserves (WGMR) was convened in May 1998 following a Symposium on The Science of Marine Protected Areas at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in February 1997.  Products from the Working Group have been published or are in press in peer-reviewed scientific journals.

The initial version of this Scientific Consensus Statement was drafted in August 2000 at a meeting on “The Science and Development of Marine Protected Areas and Fully Protected Marine Reserves along the U.S. West Coast” held in Monterey, California.  The meeting was organized and sponsored by COMPASS (<>), the Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, a collaboration among Island Press, SeaWeb, Monterey Bay Aquarium and an independent Board of Scientific Experts.  The mission of COMPASS is to advance and communicate marine conservation science.  Dr. Megan Dethier and Dr. Stephen R. Palumbi coordinated the academic scientist group which drafted the initial Statement at the Monterey COMPASS meeting, following presentations by NCEAS Working Group scientists.

The intended audience for the Statement includes resource users, policymakers, non-governmental organizations, and interested citizens.  Signatories are academic Ph.D. scientists with expertise relevant to reserves.
For further information about NCEAS, COMPASS, the Statement, a list of scientific products from the NCEAS Working Group on Marine Reserves or to add your name for future use of the Statement, please contact Dr. Patty Debenham or Dr. George Leonard
17 Feb 2001; Annual Meeting of the American Association For the Advancement of the Sciences

For information, contact: Patty Debenham (805) 892-2518 or George Leonard (831) 647-6830

National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis
University of California; 735 State Street, Suite 300; Santa Barbara, CA 93101-5504;

Scientists' Statement on Protecting the World's Deep-sea Coral and Sponge Ecosystems
As marine scientists and conservation biologists, we are profoundly concerned that human activities, particularly bottom trawling, are causing unprecedented damage to the deep-sea coral and sponge communities on continental plateaus and slopes, and on seamounts and mid-ocean ridges.

Shallow-water coral reefs are sometimes called "the rainforests of the sea" for their extraordinary biological diversity, perhaps the highest anywhere on Earth. However, until quite recently, few people-even marine scientists-knew that the majority of coral species live in colder, darker depths, or that some of these form coral reefs and forests similar to those of shallow waters in appearance, species richness and importance to fisheries. Lophelia coral reefs in cold waters of the Northeast Atlantic have over 1,300 species of invertebrates, and over 850 species of macro- and megafauna were recently found on seamounts in the Tasman and Coral Seas, as many as in a shallow-water coral reef. Because seamounts are essentially undersea islands, many seamount species are endemics-species that occur nowhere else-and are therefore exceptionally vulnerable to extinction. Moreover, marine scientists have observed large numbers of commercially important but increasingly uncommon groupers and redfish among the sheltering structures of deep-sea coral reefs. Finally, because of their longevity, some deep-sea corals can serve as archives of past climate conditions that are important to understanding global climate change. In short, based on current knowledge, deep-sea coral and sponge communities appear to be as important to the biodiversity of the oceans and the sustainability of fisheries as their analogues in shallow tropical seas.

In recent years scientists have discovered deep-sea corals and/or coral reefs in Japan, Tasmania, New Zealand, Alaska, California, Nova Scotia, Maine, North Carolina, Florida, Colombia, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, UK, Ireland and Mauritania. Because research submarines and remotely operated vehicles suitable for studying the deep sea are few and expensive to operate, scientific investigation of these remarkable communities is in its very early stages. But it is increasingly clear that deep-sea corals usually inhabit places where natural disturbance is rare, and where growth and reproduction appear to be exceedingly slow. Deep-sea corals and sponges may live for centuries, making them and the myriad species that depend on them extremely slow to recover from disturbance.
Unfortunately, just as scientists have begun to understand the diversity, importance and vulnerability of deep-sea coral forests and reefs, humans have developed technologies that profoundly disturb them. There is reason for concern about deep-sea oil and gas development, deep-sea mining and global warming, but, at present, the greatest human threat to coral and sponge communities is commercial fishing, especially bottom trawling. Trawlers are vessels that drag large, heavily weighted nets across the seafloor to catch fishes and shrimps. Scientific studies around the world have shown that trawling is devastating to corals and sponges. As trawlers become more technologically sophisticated, and as fishes disappear from shallower areas, trawling is increasingly occurring at depths exceeding 1,000 meters.

It is not too late to save most of the world's deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems. We commend nations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Norway, which have already taken initial steps towards protecting some coral and sponge ecosystems under their jurisdiction. We urge the United Nations and appropriate international bodies to establish a moratorium on bottom trawling on the High Seas. Similarly, we urge individual nations and states to ban bottom trawling to protect deep-sea ecosystems wherever coral forests and reefs are known to occur within their Exclusive Economic Zones. We urge them to prohibit roller and rockhopper trawls and any similar technologies that allow fishermen to trawl on the rough bottoms where deep-sea coral and sponge communities are most likely to occur. We urge them to support research and mapping of vulnerable deep-sea coral and sponge communities. And we urge them to establish effective, representative networks of marine protected areas that include deep-sea coral and sponge communities.

Oaxaca Declaration on Biodiversity

The scientists participating in the DIVERSITAS First Open Science Conference, integrating biodiversity science for human well-being, held in Oaxaca, November 9-12, 2005, support the conclusions of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and of the Conference Biodiversity Science and Governance held in Paris in January 2005:

Therefore, they call upon governments, policy makers and citizens:

In agreement with the recommendations of the Paris Conference, they urge national governments and United Nations bodies to establish a properly resourced international scientific panel that includes an intergovernmental component and that aims at providing, on a regular basis, validated and independent scientific information relating to biodiversity to governments, international conventions, non-governmental organisations, policy makers and the wider public.
Attentive readers will note that this declaration does not address issues, causes nor effects. It is a call for more scientific funding for ambitious research programmes, expanded research capacity and a well resourced international panel. This large panel aims to provide independent information to all and sundry. The Oaxaca declaration supports the conclusions of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), which many think is a waste of effort as it sidesteps the most important issue of population control and does not provide testable criteria for progress. It also believes too much in market driven solutions, none of which have been properly investigated and proved. Neither are alternatives mentioned.

Joint science academies’ statement: Global response to climate change

Climate change is real
There will always be uncertainty in understanding a system as complex as the world’s climate. However there is now strong evidence that significant global warming is occurring1. The evidence comes from direct measurements of rising surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures and from phenomena such as increases in average global sea levels, retreating glaciers, and changes to many physical and biological systems. It is likely that most of the warming in recent decades can be attributed to human activities (IPCC 2001)2. This warming has already led to changes in the Earth's climate.

The existence of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is vital to life on Earth – in their absence average temperatures would be about 30 centigrade degrees lower than they are today. But human activities are now causing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases – including carbon dioxide, methane, tropospheric ozone, and nitrous oxide – to rise well above pre-industrial levels.

Carbon dioxide levels have increased from 280 ppm in 1750 to over 375 ppm today – higher than any previous levels that can be reliably measured (i.e. in the last 420,000 years). Increasing greenhouse gases are causing temperatures to rise; the Earth’s surface warmed by approximately 0.6 centigrade degrees over the twentieth century. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected that the average global surface temperatures will continue to increase to between 1.4 centigrade degrees and 5.8 centigrade degrees above 1990 levels, by 2100.

Reduce the causes of climate change
The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action. It is vital that all nations identify cost-effective steps that they can take now, to contribute to substantial and long-term reduction in net global greenhouse gas emissions.

Action taken now to reduce significantly the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will lessen the magnitude and rate of climate change. As the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognises, a lack of full scientific certainty about some aspects of climate change is not a reason for delaying an immediate response that will, at a reasonable cost, prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.

As nations and economies develop over the next 25 years, world primary energy demand is estimated to increase by almost 60%. Fossil fuels, which are responsible for the majority of carbon dioxide emissions produced by human activities, provide valuable resources for many nations and are projected to provide 85% of this demand (IEA 2004)3.

Minimising the amount of this carbon dioxide reaching the atmosphere presents a huge challenge. There are many potentially cost-effective technological options that could contribute to stabilising greenhouse gas concentrations. These are at various stages of research and development. However barriers to their broad deployment still need to be overcome.

Carbon dioxide can remain in the atmosphere for many decades. Even with possible lowered emission rates we will be experiencing the impacts of climate change throughout the 21st century and beyond. Failure to implement significant reductions in net greenhouse gas emissions now, will make the job much harder in the future.

Prepare for the consequences of climate change
Major parts of the climate system respond slowly to changes in greenhouse gas concentrations. Even if greenhouse gas emissions were stabilised instantly at today’s levels, the climate would still continue to change as it adapts to the increased emission of recent decades. Further changes in climate are therefore unavoidable. Nations must prepare for them.

The projected changes in climate will have both beneficial and adverse effects at the regional level, for example on water resources, agriculture, natural ecosystems and human health. The larger and faster the changes in climate, the more likely it is that adverse effects will dominate. Increasing temperatures are likely to increase the frequency and severity of weather events such as heat waves and heavy rainfall. Increasing temperatures could lead to large-scale effects such as melting of large ice sheets (with major impacts on low-lying regions throughout the world). The IPCC estimates that the combined effects of ice melting and sea water expansion from ocean warming are projected to cause the global mean sea-level to rise by between 0.1 and 0.9 metres between 1990 and 2100. In Bangladesh alone, a 0.5 metre sea-level rise would place about 6 million people at risk from flooding.

Developing nations that lack the infrastructure or resources to respond to the impacts of climate change will be particularly affected. It is clear that many of the world’s poorest people are likely to suffer the most from climate change. Long-term global efforts to create a more healthy, prosperous and sustainable world may be severely hindered by changes in the climate.
The task of devising and implementing strategies to adapt to the consequences of climate change will require worldwide collaborative inputs from a wide range of experts, including physical and natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, medical scientists, those in the humanities, business leaders and economists.

We urge all nations, in the line with the UNFCCC principles4, to take prompt action to reduce the causes of climate change, adapt to its impacts and ensure that the issue is included in all relevant national and international strategies. As national science academies, we commit to working with governments to help develop and implement the national and international response to the challenge of climate change.
G8 nations have been responsible for much of the past greenhouse gas emissions. As parties to the UNFCCC, G8 nations are committed to showing leadership in addressing climate change and assisting developing nations to meet the challenges of adaptation and mitigation.

We call on world leaders, including those meeting at the Gleneagles G8 Summit in July 2005, to:

Signed: Academia Brasiliera de Ciências, Royal Society of Canada, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Academié des Sciences, Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher, Indian National Science Academy, Accademia dei Lincei, Science Council of Japan, Russian Academy of Sciences, Royal Society, National Academy of Sciences,

Monaco Declaration
October 6-9, 2008

We scientists who met in Monaco to review what is known about ocean acidification declare that we are deeply concerned by recent, rapid changes in ocean chemistry and their potential, within decades, to severely affect marine organisms, food webs, biodiversity, and fisheries. To avoid severe and widespread damages, all of which are ultimately driven by increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), we call for policymakers to act quickly to incorporate these concerns into plans to stabilize atmospheric CO2 at a safe level to avoid not only dangerous climate change but also dangerous ocean acidification.


[for more details, see the link above]

Therefore, we urge policymakers to launch four types of initiatives:

Reader,, please note the amount of uncertainty here: "improve understanding which is still in its infancy; links between players; improve communication; cutting emissions". Now read our dissection and rebuttal on this web site: Ocean Acidification (fraud or fright?)
An example to illustrate the intense effort needed: To stay below an atmospheric CO2 level of about 550 ppm, the current increase in total CO2 emissions of 3% per year must be reversed by 2020. Even steeper reductions will be needed to keep most polar waters from becoming corrosive to the shells of key marine species and to maintain favourable conditions for coral growth. If negotiations at COP-15 in Copenhagen in December 2009 fall short of these objectives, still higher atmospheric CO2 levels will be inevitable.

[we have highlighted in blue the uncertainties in this statement and no-proof by a question mark]

Headline messages

1. CO2 and ocean chemistry
Over the past 200 years, the oceans have absorbed approximately a quarter of the CO2 produced from human activities.[?] This CO2 would otherwise have accumulated in the atmosphere leading to greater climate change. [?] However, the absorption of this CO2 has affected ocean chemistry and has caused the oceans (which are on average slightly alkaline) to become more acidic. The average pH of oceanic surface waters has been lowered by 0.1 units since the pre-industrial period. [?] This represents a 30% increase in hydrogen ion activity. Hydrogen ions attack carbonate ions which are the building blocks needed by many marine organisms, such as corals and shellfish, to produce their skeletons, shells and other hard structures.
This loss of carbonate ions [increase, actually] produce lower saturation levels for the carbonate minerals, aragonite and calcite, which are used in many shells and skeletons. Carbonate ion concentrations are now lower than at any other time during the last 800 000 years. [?]
Global atmospheric CO2 concentrations are now at 387 ppm. If current trends in CO2 emissions continue, model projections suggest that by mid-century CO2 concentrations will be more than double pre-industrial levels and the oceans will be more acidic than they have been for tens of millions of years. The current rate of change is much more rapid than during any event over the last 65 million years. These changes in ocean chemistry are irreversible for many thousands of years, and the biological consequences could last much longer. [?]

2. Environmental damage from ocean acidification
Ocean acidification impacts on marine life will depend on the rate and magnitude of changes in ocean chemistry and biological responses. While the ocean chemistry changes are predictable with high certainty, our understanding of the impacts is still developing. Nevertheless, there is strong evidence emerging for a range of biological effects and changes in the marine biogeochemical processes that affect the carbon cycle. The long-term consequences of this are difficult to predict.
Impacts are already being observed in the polar and tropical regions. Coral calcification rates have declined in recent decades, although attributing causes for these impacts among multiple drivers (acidification, warming, pollution, etc.) is a challenge. Fundamental ecological ocean processes will be affected as many marine organisms depend directly or indirectly on calcium carbonate saturated waters and are adapted to current levels of seawater pH for physiological and metabolic processes such as calcification, growth and reproduction. [?] The pH changes expected will exceed the seasonal and regional variations currently experienced naturally. [?]

4.? [headline missing in declaration]
Ocean acidification is a global issue. However, changes in ocean chemistry will be regionally variable with some regions affected more rapidly than others. The high CO2 waters in polar and upwelling regions such as the eastern Pacific and Bering Sea for example, will experience low pH more rapidly than other regions.[cold water absorbs CO2] Tropical waters, such as those around the Great Barrier Reef will also experience rapid declines in the carbonate ions important for coral reef construction. [?] According to recent model projections almost all tropical and sub-tropical coral reefs were surrounded by waters favourable to coral growth before the industrial revolution. [?] If atmospheric CO2 is stabilized at 450 ppm, only a very small fraction (~8%) of existing tropical and subtropical coral reefs will be surrounded by such water, and at 550 ppm, coral reefs may be dissolving globally. [?] Cold water corals are also vulnerable and are likely to be affected before they have even been fully explored. [?] By 2100, it has been estimated that 70% will be in waters unfavourable for growth.
In the polar regions, model projections using current CO2 emission rates suggest that parts of the Southern Ocean will be undersaturated for aragonite by 2050. Aragonite undersaturation is projected for 10% of Arctic waters by around 2020, and by 2060, 80% of waters will be undersaturated for aragonite and calcite. This means the waters will be corrosive to Arctic calcifiers such as pteropods, and bivalves such as clams, which play a key role in Arctic food webs. [?]
The ocean chemistry changes projected will exceed the range of natural variability, which is likely to be too rapid for many species to adapt to. [?] Many coastal animals and groups of phytoplankton and zooplankton may be directly affected with implications for fish, marine mammals and the other groups that depend on them for food. Increased CO2 may be particularly stressful for organisms with high metabolic rates such as squid. [?] The impacts of these changes on oceanic ecosystems and the services they provide, for example in fisheries, coastal protection, tourism, carbon sequestration and climate regulation, cannot yet be estimated accurately but they are potentially large.
Although some species may benefit, most are adapted to current conditions and the impacts on ocean biological diversity and ecosystem functioning will likely be severe. Analysis of past events in Earth’s geologic history suggests that chemical recovery will take tens of thousands of years – while the recovery of ecosystem function and biological diversity can take much longer.

4. Mitigation
Ocean acidification is irreversible during our lifetimes and those of many generations to come. [?] To minimise the risk of these large-scale and long-term changes to the oceans the increase in atmospheric CO2 must be curbed by reducing emissions from human activities. [?]
Recent scenario studies have estimated that stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at 550 ppm will produce enough acidification to be disastrous for sensitive oceanic ecosystems in many parts of the world. [?] Even at 450 ppm, more than 10% of the world’s oceans will be impacted including large parts of the Southern, North Pacific, and Arctic oceans. [?]
Mitigation approaches such as adding chemicals to counter the effects of acidification are likely to be expensive, only partly effective and only at a very local scale, and may pose additional unanticipated risks to the marine environment. There has been very little research on the feasibility and impacts of these approaches. Substantial research is needed before these techniques could be applied.

5. Conclusions and recommendations
Ocean acidification is a direct consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. [?] To avoid substantial damage to ocean ecosystems, deep and rapid reductions of global CO2 emissions by at least 50% by 2050, and much more thereafter are needed.

We, the academies of science working through the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), call on world leaders to:

The following academies have endorsed this statement.
• TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world
• Albanian Academy of Sciences
• National Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural
Sciences, Argentina
• Australian Academy of Science
• Bangladesh Academy of Sciences
• The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium
• Brazilian Academy of Sciences
• Bulgarian Academy of Sciences
• Cameroon Academy of Sciences
• RSC: The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada
• Academia Chilena de Ciencias
• Chinese Academy of Sciences
• Colombian Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences
• Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences
• Cuban Academy of Sciences
• Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
• Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters
• Academia de Ciencias de la República Dominicana
• Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Egypt
• The Delegation of the Finnish Academies of Science and Letters
• Académie des Sciences, France
• Georgian Academy of Sciences
• Union der Deutschen Akademien der Wissenschaften
• Deutsche Akademie der Naturforscher Leopoldina
• The Academy of Athens
• Academia de Ciencias Medicas, Fisicas y Naturales de Guatemala
• Indian National Science Academy
• Indonesian Academy of Sciences
• Academy of Sciences of the Islamic Republic of Iran
• Royal Irish Academy
• Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities
• Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
• Science Council of Japan
• Royal Scientific Society of Jordan
• Islamic World Academy of Sciences
• African Academy of Sciences
• Kenya National Academy of Sciences
• The Korean Academy of Science and Technology
• Kosovo Academy of Sciences and Arts
• National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic
• Akademi Sains Malaysia
• Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology
• Academia Mexicana de Ciencias
• Montenegrin Academy of Sciences and Arts
• The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
• Academy of the Royal Society of New Zealand
• Nigerian Academy of Sciences
• Norwegian Academy of Sciences and Letters
• Pakistan Academy of Sciences
• Palestine Academy for Science and Technology
• Academia Nacional de Ciencias del Peru
• Academia das Ciencias de Lisboa
• Académie des Sciences et Techniques du Sénégal
• Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts
• Slovak Academy of Sciences
• Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
• Academy of Science of South Africa
• Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Spain
• National Academy of Sciences, Sri Lanka
• Sudanese National Academy of Science
• Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
• Academia Sinica, Taiwan, China
• Tanzania Academy of Sciences
• The Caribbean Academy of Sciences
• Turkish Academy of Sciences
• The Uganda National Academy of Sciences
• The Royal Society, UK
• US National Academy of Sciences
• Academia de Ciencias Físicas, Matemáticas y Naturales de Venezuela
• Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences

"Men go mad in herds, but only come to their senses one by one." — Charles Mackay, 19th century Scottish journalist

"I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth, if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives". - Leo Tolstoy, Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy (1828-1910)

Reader, as you can see, this scare statement is almost entirely based on ignorance and assumptions. Read our chapter on ocean acidification to understand how it works and that fear is highly unjustified, and that properly conducted experiments show the opposite of what is claimed by global warming alarmists. Also read why science needs skeptics. Note how the greatest scientific fraud of our times has come tumbling down as Climategate (search Google).

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