News Release

World-renowned experts to lead discussion with the chemistry community on climate change

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Chemical Society

Carbon dioxide, released from industrial smokestacks, automobiles, and other sources that burn fossil fuel, is a major greenhouse gas related to global climate change.
Credit: Karl Dolenc

BOSTON, Aug. 23, 2010 — In response to doubts about the causes and potential extent of global climate change, a panel of four climate experts today will review the current state of climate science and discuss observed and predicted changes.

The special forum, which will include conclusions from recent national and international climate change reports, will be part of the American Chemical Society's 240th National Meeting & Exposition. Entitled "Forum on Climate Change Science and Consequences," the event is scheduled for 5 p.m. - 8 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Seaport Hotel, Plaza Ballroom B/C. It will include time for audience questions and comments.

"It's only been a little over a decade that we've had evidence of global impacts of climate change," said James McCarthy, Ph.D., one of participants. "Until the mid-1990s, it was largely hypothetical. Now we're seeing significant evidence on every continent that is consistent with what you would expect in a warmer world." McCarthy is a professor of biological oceanography at Harvard University and past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

"In the future, climate change will affect water systems, agriculture, human health, recreation, fisheries, and many other aspects of life," McCarthy added. "We need to figure out how to prevent climate change or be prepared to adapt to it."

Symposium organizer Charles Kolb, Ph.D., observed that chemistry will play a central role in resolving the climate change challenge.

"There is a tremendous amount of chemistry involved in climate change science and even more chemistry will be required to develop and implement strategies to moderate climate change," said Kolb, an atmospheric chemist and president of Aerodyne Research Inc. in Billerica, Mass. "Keeping the planet habitable is one of the most important challenges facing society."

Presenters in the climate change symposium and their topics include:

  • Michael McElroy, Ph.D., of Harvard University, who will discuss the science of climate change. His research covers natural and human-induced changes in the chemical composition of the atmosphere and how these changes impact climate. McElroy's research also addresses the environmental consequences of rapid industrialization in developing countries such as China and India and explores alternative strategies for more sustainable development in the United States and other developed countries.

  • James McCarthy, Ph.D., of Harvard University, will discuss the observed global impact of climate changes, the context in which these changes are occurring, and projections for the future. He'll also discuss the socioeconomic impact of these changes — including regional impacts on agriculture, fisheries, human health, etc. — and will describe how current research might help decisions aimed at preventing and/or adapting to climate change. McCarthy, one of the leading experts on global climate change, has focused his oceanographic studies on regions that are strongly affected by seasonal and inter-annual variation in climate.

  • John Christy, Ph.D., of the University of Alabama in Huntsville, will describe evidence from the climate record indicating that the "greenhouse effect" — the warming due to gases emitted by human activity — is overestimated. He will also discuss evidence that regulations designed to impact human climate change are ineffective. Christy currently builds climate data sets, using information from satellites and other monitoring sources, to study how climate has changed and why.

  • Robert Socolow, Ph.D., of Princeton University, will provide a summary of a new study underway that examines major issues related to global climate change, with a focus on how climate change affects the United States and actions the nation can take to respond to this problem. The new study, America's Climate Choices, is being conducted by the National Research Council of the National Academies. Socolow's current research focuses on global carbon management, including the capture of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its storage.

Those presentations are among 8,000 reports scheduled for presentation during the ACS' 240th National Meeting & Exposition, which runs from Aug. 22-26. The central theme is "Chemistry for Preventing & Combating Disease." In addition to the climate change and theme symposia, the conference will offer print, broadcast, and online journalists a rich assortment of spot news and feature possibilities with that span science's horizons — from astronomy to zoology.


The ACS Office of Public Affairs will operate a Press Center in Room 152 of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. It will host daily press conferences and a news media workroom fully staffed to assist in arranging interviews. The Press Center will have wireless Internet access, telephones, computers, photocopy and fax services, and refreshments. Free news media registration for the meeting is still open at

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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