Microbiologists’ Warning Site Joins ASM’s Expanding Program of Climate Change Resources

April 21, 2023

Washington, DC – As part of its expanding support for research at the intersection of microbiology and climate change, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) will host the Microbiologists’ Warning on Climate Change website beginning on Earth Day 2023. The site supports the work of microbial scientists who study the impact of the world’s smallest organisms on one of its biggest threats, climate change.

The Microbiologists’ Warning on Climate Change website arose from a growing and urgent need to shine a light on what, until a few years ago, was a missing piece in climate change conversations: The critical role of microbes in the biosphere, and how they’re influencing the future. In 2019, a group of microbial scientists published a consensus statement in Nature Review Microbiology to raise awareness of the crucial role that microorganisms play in climate change biology.     

“Microbes are a critical part of the solution to our climate change crisis,” said Nguyen K. Nguyen, Ph.D., Director of ASM’s American Academy of Microbiology (Academy). “As the new host of the site, ASM serves as a trusted partner for microbial scientists around the world who are passionate about climate change work and would like to join our efforts.” Adding the site to the growing suite of ASM’s climate change initiatives was an easy decision, Nguyen said.

The site, which was originally hosted by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, was conceptualized by Rick Cavicchioli, Ph.D., lead author on the consensus statement. Cavicchioli and his collaborators wanted to create a website where microbiologists could add their names to support the statement, which calls for greater inclusion of microbes in climate change research, recognition of microbial life as the support system of the biosphere, and increased efforts to develop microbial technologies to mitigate climate change impacts.

“We must learn not just how microorganisms affect climate change (including production and consumption of greenhouse gases) but also how they will be affected by climate change and other human activities,” the authors affirmed in the consensus statement.

The re-envisioned Microbiologists’ Warning Site will carry on its original purpose and serve as a gateway to information and action for the global community of microbial scientists. It will provide resources for researchers who work at the intersection of microbes and climate change to advance their studies and promote their ongoing projects. It will also promote collaborations to combat climate change, offer guidance for new projects, and highlight ongoing efforts by ASM and its partner organizations. 

“To tackle climate change, we focus on building strong scientific partnerships both within the microbial science community and beyond,” Nguyen said. “We also want to the site to showcase cross cutting efforts to combat climate change and offer ideas for action and collaboration, especially by supporting new work to inform policy and bring new market solutions.” 

The site has become a critical component of the Scientific Portfolio on Climate Change & Microbes, a 5-year plan by the Academy to increase scientific understanding about climate change and microbes, inform policies and drive market innovations. In 2022, as part of this initiative, the Academy published a colloquium report, Microbes and Climate Change: Science, People, & Impacts, highlighting ways in which microbes influence climate change and, in turn, are influenced by it. Shortly thereafter, a companion paper outlining strategies and expanding on that perspective was published in the ASM journal mBio

The site has 3 goals that tie to the Academy’s Climate Change & Microbes Portfolio: 
  • Build a community of scientists who are interested in the intersection of climate change and microbiology .
  • Facilitate new partnerships with outside scientific communities to address climate change. 
  • Provide the scientific community with resources and information on efforts to fight climate change using microbes.
The American Society for Microbiology is one of the largest professional societies dedicated to the life sciences and is composed of 30,000 scientists and health practitioners. ASM's mission is to promote and advance the microbial sciences.  
ASM advances the microbial sciences through conferences, publications, certifications and educational opportunities. It enhances laboratory capacity around the globe through training and resources. It provides a network for scientists in academia, industry and clinical settings. Additionally, ASM promotes a deeper understanding of the microbial sciences to diverse audiences.  

Author: ASM Communications

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