To what extent do humans impact the Earth's climate?
Conveners: Gerald Ganssen , Frederik M. van der Wateren , Denis-Didier Rousseau , Bruce D. Malamud 
Tue, 04 May, 12:15–13:15  / Room D

There has recently been international publicity about supposed irregularities in IPCC reports. This, added to other examples, such as the status of Himalaya glacier melt, have cast doubt on the reliability of climate scientists. Politicians are rightfully asking whether they can trust report conclusions which they use to build policy. In addition, the public is unsure about the veracity and rigour reported by climate scientists. Scientists who have devoted the better part of their lives to the study of the climate, are currently being portrayed in the media as frauds and worse. At the same time, new 'experts' are appearing who have done little actual research in climate or climate-related sciences. Any errors, including small ones, are now being used by some groups as evidence for major cover-ups and worldwide conspiracy.

The European Geosciences Union (EGU) is concerned about the unpleasant turn the present public climate debate is taking. During the next General Assembly, to be held in Vienna 2-7 May 2010, the EGU will run a Great Debate titled: "To what extent do humans impact the Earth's climate?"

The aim of this Great Debate is not to get people together to resolve the conflict between different sides of the anthropogenic vs. natural causes of climate change, but rather to answer some basic questions about the role of science in policy making. The public is currently lost in the current disagreements between scientists and the often personal and non-scientific attacks within the climate community. This Great Debate will consider, in the context of the broader title, the following: Can scientists give meaningful answers to problems affecting all of us; How do the public, policy makers, and scientists deal with uncertainties and risks; What is the use of scientists in the political decision making process, when scientists often do not even agree amongst themselves?

This Great Debate will consider the extent that humans influence the Earth’s climate. The ideal debate, within this context and the reasoning and ethics of an international scientific approach, would consider how EGU members feel that mistakes in reports should be put into a proper perspective, how to consider uncertainties, and to what extent scientific results might be used to develop new policies, even if there are disagreements on the causes or mechanisms of climate change.

Participants (all confirmed):
Prof. F.G.H. Berkhout
Frans Berkhout is Professor of Innovation and Sustainability, and Director of the Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM) at the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. For further details see:

Prof. Günter Blöschl
Günter Blöschl is head of the department of Hydrology and Water Resources Management at the Institute for Hydraulic and Water Resources Engineering of the Vienna University of Technology. For further details, see

Prof. Mike Lockwood
Mike Lockwood is Director of Research for the School of Mathematics, Meteorology and Physics at Reading Universiy, UK. For further details, see

Prof. Bernard Legras
Bernard Legras is Directeur de Recherche at the Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. For further details, see

Professor John Ludden
John Ludden is the executive Director of the British Geological Survey and Past-President of the European Geosciences Union. For further details, see