Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Climate change

Credit: Sam Falconer

The scientific community is united in the view, informed by a body of evidence amassed over more than 50 years, that climate change caused by human activity poses a considerable threat to life on Earth. There is also little disagreement from those in international politics. In 2015, 194 countries signed the Paris climate agreement, and the intention of US President Donald Trump to withdraw his nation from the accord has so far done nothing to dissuade the rest of the world from taking action on climate change.

For one week every summer on the German island of Lindau, Nobel laureates meet young researchers for an exchange of ideas. At this year's meeting, consensus on the importance of climate change was easy to find. However, even for such enlightened company, predicting the impact of the looming danger is difficult. Ocean acidification is a known consequence of increased carbon dioxide emissions, but its effects on marine life are tricky to pin down (see page S54).

There is also room for debate over what precisely should be done about climate change. Most agree that it is necessary to capture carbon emissions at the source — power plants, for example — but plans to suck carbon dioxide directly from the air attract less support. What happens to the captured carbon is also contentious: some researchers would like to put it to use, whereas others prioritize its long-term storage (S66).

Many scientists have grown frustrated at the slow pace of action on climate change from some political leaders. That feeling has led some researchers to run for public office (S59). Nature challenged the Nobel laureates and young scientists assembled at Lindau to discuss science's relationship with politics in the era of climate change (S62).

We are pleased to acknowledge the financial support of Mars, Incorporated in producing this Outlook. As always, Nature has full responsibility for all editorial content.

This article is part of the Climate change Outlook, an editorially independent supplement produced with the financial support of a third party. About this content.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Related links

Related links

Related links in Nature Research

Sea change

Emissions: We have the technology

Policy: Getting political

The real climate debate

Special: Targeting 1.5°C

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Hodson, R. Climate change. Nature 550, S53 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/550S53a

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/550S53a

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing