When the Academies released their first report on climate change in the late 1980s, many Americans knew little about global warming. Since then, our reports on the science behind climate change have done much to raise awareness among government officials and the public, putting global warming on the nation's agenda of serious policy issues.
The 2001 Research Council report Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions was particularly influential. The report states unequivocally that "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise." The report goes on to say, "The ... conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue."
The United States has become more focused on finding solutions to the consequences of global warming. To lead the way, the Academies launched a major initiative called America's Climate Choices to examine the serious and sweeping issues associated with global climate change. Four in-depth reports identify actions to reduce warming and help the nation and world adapt to a changing environment.