Ogmius Newsletter

Project News

Science Policy Assessment and Research on Climate (SPARC)

SPARC recently produced final reports from two of its workshops.

1.  Final report from the “Decision Support and Carbon Cycle Science: Practical Strategies to Reconciling the Supply of and Demand for Carbon Cycle Science” workshop held in June 2005.  From the report:

Participants agreed that there were existing models and experience in the use of scientific information that could be applied to the formation of an effort focusing on usable carbon science.  Some of these examples and lessons learned include:

  • Start with a “problem-centric” or stakeholder perspective to orient around as research is planned. Such a model is more likely to result in research that meets societal needs rather than beginning from basic science interests.
  • Build in a dynamic, two-way relationship that is ongoing between knowledge producers and societal decision makers, or pursue fully-integrated co-production of knowledge. Experience has shown that a mediated approach such as these is more likely to result in useful information that has a greater chance of being used.
  • Allow for community creativity in seeking out projects that might provide good pilots for creating usable carbon science.
  • Through appropriate metrics and evaluation procedures, ensure that accountability to the goals of usable science is met. Such governance and metrics may be different than the traditional ones usually relevant for basic research.
  • Models exist that can be evaluated for their applicability for organizing a usable carbon science effort. Such models include dedicated institutions, regional integrated sciences and assessment projects, boundary organizations, and grant programs.
  • Consider how successful usable carbon science efforts might transition to an ongoing, operational status. Do such organizations exist now for carbon? If not, can the function be incorporated into existing organizations?

The complete report can be downloaded here.

2.  Final report from the “Workshop on Climate Change and Disaster Losses: Understanding and Attributing Trends and Projections” held in May 2006.  From the report:

Consensus (unanimous) statements of the workshop participants:

1. Climate change is real, and has a significant human component related to greenhouse gases.

2. Direct economic losses of global disasters have increased in recent decades with particularly large increases since the 1980s.

3. The increases in disaster losses primarily result from weather related events, in particular storms and floods.

4. Climate change and variability are factors which influence trends in disasters.

5. Although there are peer reviewed papers indicating trends in storms and floods there is still scientific debate over the attribution to anthropogenic climate change or natural climate variability. There is also concern over geophysical data quality.

6. IPCC (2001) did not achieve detection and attribution of trends in extreme events at the global level.

7. High quality long-term disaster loss records exist, some of which are suitable for research purposes, such as to identify the effects of climate and/or climate change on the loss records.

8. Analyses of long-term records of disaster losses indicate that societal change and economic development are the principal factors responsible for the documented increasing losses to date.

9. The vulnerability of communities to natural disasters is determined by their economic development and other social characteristics.

10. There is evidence that changing patterns of extreme events are drivers for recent increases in global losses.

11. Because of issues related to data quality, the stochastic nature of extreme event impacts, length of time series, and various societal factors present in the disaster loss record, it is still not possible to determine the portion of the increase in damages that might be attributed to climate change due to GHG emissions.

12. For future decades the IPCC (2001) expects increases in the occurrence and/or intensity of some extreme events as a result of anthropogenic climate change. Such increases will further increase losses in the absence of disaster reduction measures.

13. In the near future the quantitative link (attribution) of trends in storm and flood losses to climate changes related to GHG emissions is unlikely to be answered unequivocally.

Policy implications identified by the workshop participants:

14. Adaptation to extreme weather events should play a central role in reducing societal vulnerabilities to climate and climate change.

15. Mitigation of GHG emissions should also play a central role in response to anthropogenic climate change, though it does not have an effect for several decades on the hazard risk.

16. We recommend further research on different combinations of adaptation and mitigation policies.

17. We recommend the creation of an open-source disaster database according to agreed upon standards.

18. In addition to fundamental research on climate, research priorities should consider needs of decision makers in areas related to both adaptation and mitigation.

19. For improved understanding of loss trends, there is a need to continue to collect and improve long-term and homogenous datasets related to both climate parameters and disaster losses.

20. The community needs to agree upon peer reviewed procedures for normalizing economic loss data.

A short brochure can be downloaded here and the complete report can be downloaded here.

SPARC Presentations:

Nat Logar, Relevant knowledge and user collaboration in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beijing, China, Nov. 11.

Lisa Dilling, Terrestrial Carbon Sink Thresholds, Ecothresholds Project meeting, Nov. 9.

Kevin Vranes, Colorado Academy talk on Global Warming/Climate Change and Energy Use, Oct. 24.

Lisa Dilling, Enhancing Reliability and Usability of Science Information, GSA Specialty Meeting, Sept. 18-20.

Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change

Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social ChangeLisa Dilling’s multi-collaborator project on the effective communication of climate change has resulted in an exciting anthology, due to be published January 31, 2007:

Moser, Susanne C. and Lisa Dilling (eds.). Creating a Climate for Change: Communicating Climate Change and Facilitating Social Change. Cambridge University Press, in press.

Brief Summary
The need for effective communication, public outreach, and education to increase support for policy, collective action and behavior change is ever-present, and is perhaps most pressing in the context of anthropogenic climate change.  This book is the first to take a comprehensive look at communication and social change specifically targeted to climate change.

Creating a Climate for Change is a unique collection of ideas examining the challenges associated with communicating climate change in order to facilitate societal response. It offers well-founded, practical suggestions on how to communicate climate change and how to approach related social change more effectively. The contributors of this book come from a diverse range of backgrounds, from government and academia to non-governmental and civic sectors of society. Each chapter goes beyond posing problems or discussing the difficulties, and offers constructive suggestions for improving communication and social change efforts. The book concludes that re-envisioning communication strategies and exploring new approaches are necessary if we are to effectively facilitate action on climate change. The book is accessibly written, and any specialized terminology is explained.

Creating a Climate for Change will be of great interest to academic researchers and professionals in climate change, environmental policy, science communication, psychology, sociology, and geography.

For a table of contents click here.

To place an order through Amazon click here.