Friday, 02 June 2017 08:56

ASM Statement on Science Policy Related to Climate Change

The American Society for Microbiology (ASM) urges the Administration to take leadership on science policy related to climate change and to begin immediately negotiations to reenter an international agreement to mitigate the effects of climate change. The United States must continue to support scientific studies to understand global climate change since it influences everything, from the production of food, the quality of our air and water, to the spread of infectious diseases and the occurrence and prevalence of pathogenic microorganisms, vectors and disease outcomes.  

Regardless of the cause of climate change, it can adversely affect human health and the environment on which we depend. Our economic vitality in the United States is linked to human health and the environment. It is essential that the Nation remain engaged in the global community. Unless we better understand the human–microbe partnership in global change, and reduce activities that adversely contribute to global change, we will find ourselves increasingly challenged by unprecedented environmental problems. 

The potential connection between climate and public health is a subject of concern for the ASM. We urge the Administration to support and to work with international partners on our ability to understand the complex links between environmental, climatological and biological systems which present opportunities for prediction and prevention of infectious diseases. 

Although global change has been a natural process throughout Earth’s history, scientific evidence strongly indicates that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are due to human activity accelerating climate change.  Microbes also produce carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide which are gases that in elevated amounts contribute to climate change. Other microbes remove these gases from the atmosphere and sequester them in soils and plants and provide a sink for removal of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide. 

If nothing is done to reverse the current trends, future generations may experience an atmosphere different from our own as the Earth undergoes changes. The basic chemistry of the Earth is determined by biological activity and our country must support studies to understand global change and find solutions for undesirable changes.  Biotechnology, where the United States currently is the leader, can contribute to solutions.  We must ensure that the US remains the leader in seeking solutions to global problems that impact the health and security of all Americans. 

The ASM believes that the United States must support studies to understand global issues and find solutions for undesirable changes.  Any climate change will have impacts across borders, so international collaboration is needed to generate scientific knowledge and inform future policy decisions at the local, national and global levels.