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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).

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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.

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Hodson, R. Climate change. Nature 550, S53 (2017).

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