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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate INFORMING DECISIONS IN A CHANGING CLIMATE Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This project was supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under contract 68-C-03-081 and EP-C-09-003, including funds contributed by that agency and by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Support of the work of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change is provided by a consortium of federal agencies through a contract from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Number NNH07CC79B) and by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Number BCS-0436369). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support. Informing decisions in a changing climate / Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-0-309-13737-9 (pbk.) — ISBN 978-0-309-13738-6 (pdf) 1. Climatic changes — Environmental aspects — Research — Government policy — United States. 2. Environmental policy — Decision making. 3. Decision support systems. 4. Climatic changes — Risk assessment. 5. Environmental degradation — Risk assessment. I. Title. QC903.2.U6N38 2009 363.738′74—dc22 2009014123 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2009). Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate. Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support, Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change. Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate PANEL ON STRATEGIES AND METHODS FOR CLIMATE-RELATED DECISION SUPPORT ROBERT W. CORELL (Chair), H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington, DC KAI N. LEE (Vice Chair), David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Los Altos, CA JOSEPH ARVAI, Environmental Science and Policy Program, Michigan State University GARRY D. BREWER, School of Management, Yale University CHARLES (CHIP) G. GROAT, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin MARTHA KREBS, Energy R&D Division, California Energy Commission, Sacramento ROBERT LEMPERT, RAND, Santa Monica, CA MACK McFARLAND, DuPont Fluoroproducts, Wilimington, DE SUSANNE C. MOSER, Susanne Moser Research and Consulting, Santa Cruz, CA JONATHAN A. PATZ, Department for Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin, Madison CYNTHIA E. ROSENZWEIG, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York HARVEY RUVIN, Office of the County Clerk, Miami–Dade County, FL SOROOSH SOROOSHIAN, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Irvine RICHARD THOMAS, American International Group, Inc., New York KATHLEEN J. TIERNEY, Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center, University of Colorado PAUL C. STERN, Study Director JENNIFER F. BREWER, Staff Officer LINDA DePUGH, Administrative Assistant
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate COMMITTEE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF GLOBAL CHANGE THOMAS J. WILBANKS (Chair), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN RICHARD N. ANDREWS, Department of Public Policy, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill ROBERT CORELL, H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington, DC KRISTIE L. EBI, Independent Consultant, Alexandria, VA ROGER E. KASPERSON, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University ANN KINZIG, Department of Biology, Arizona State University, Tempe MARIA CARMEN LEMOS, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan TIMOTHY McDANIELS, Institute for Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, University of British Columbia, Vancouver LINDA O. MEARNS, Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO EDWARD MILES, School of Marine Affairs, University of Washington, Seattle DENNIS OJIMA, H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics, and the Environment, Washington, DC ALEXANDER PFAFF, Public Policy Department, Duke University EUGENE ROSA, Natural Resource and Environmental Policy, Washington State University CYNTHIA E. ROSENZWEIG, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, New York GARY W. YOHE, Department of Economics, Wesleyan University ORAN R. YOUNG (ex officio), International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change Scientific Committee; Bren School of Environmental Science and Management, University of California at Santa Barbara PAUL C. STERN, Study Director JENNIFER F. BREWER, Staff Officer LINDA DePUGH, Administrative Assistant
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate Preface Earth’s climate is changing, with the global temperature now rising at rates unprecedented in the experience of human society. While some historical changes in climate have resulted from natural causes and variations, the strength of the trends and the patterns of change that are now emerging indicate that human influences, resulting primarily from increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fossil fuels and other greenhouse gases and the deforesting of the tropical rain forests, have now become the dominant factor. Recent studies by a global team of carbon cycle scientists concluded that anthropogenic CO2 emissions have been growing four times faster since 2000 than in the 1990s and are now above the worst-case emission scenario projected by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These scientific projections of a warmer planet (from 1.5° to 4.5° Celsius) are taking place within a larger context of many other ongoing changes, including the globalization of markets and communications and continued growth in human population. There are also changes in cultural, governance, and economic conditions and in land use, as well as persistent poverty and hunger. Impacts on the environment and society result not from climate change alone, but from the interplay of all of these factors. As the unparalleled challenges and opportunities of a changing climate have been recognized, there has been a growing demand from leaders in both the public and private sectors for information and more effective ways to support climate-related decisions. This report sets forth the foundations for improved decision support with a set of principles and a framework for decision support processes that include information, strategies, and meth-
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate ods. Meeting the nation’s decision support needs will require involvement of organizations across the country. Leadership from the federal government will be essential. The report concludes that the federal government’s efforts should be undertaken through a new integrated, interagency initiative with both service and research elements. The panel offers nine recommendations to facilitate effective development of climate-related decision support capabilities across many levels of governments and the private sector in our nation. It is our hope that this report will prove useful for those who are faced with climate-related changes in their operating environments. The fact that climate is no longer stable, but will continue to change in new and often surprising ways, demands decisions and decision making that will be different—though often subtly so. The response of governments at all levels, businesses and industries, and civil society is only starting, and much is still to be learned about the institutional, technological, and economic shifts that have begun. Thus, we know our work is not the final word, but we believe our conceptual framing and recommendations offer important guidance to more productive climate-related decision support processes. Decision support, seen in this light, is a large task—one that should play a large role in the federal climate research enterprise in the years to come. The panel has had the benefit of counsel, insights, and foundational ideas from the many individuals, representatives of federal government, state and local governments, business and industry, and from members of the scientific and other expert communities with whom we have had the privilege to consult. We are particularly grateful for support of this study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and for the counsel of Dr. Joel Scheraga, the national program director for EPA’s Global Change Research Program, and Ms. Claudia Nierenberg, special projects manager at NOAA’s Climate Program Office. They have provided invaluable assistance and insights for the panel’s work. We also thank Megan O’Grady of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies for sharing her work on community involvement in PlaNYC, which was useful in preparing Appendix A. We have had the honor to work with a most remarkable team of scientists and other experts and a staff with a profound array of insights and intellectual talent. We are particularly grateful for the remarkable talent and scientific capabilities of the panel’s staff director, Paul Stern, and his National Academies team, Jennifer Brewer and Linda DePugh. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the Report Review Committee of the National Research Council (NRC). The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The following individuals reviewed this report: William Asher, Applied Physics Laboratory, University of Washington; Patrick R. Atkins, independent consultant, Pittsburgh, PA; Robert W. Fri, independent consultant, Bethesda, MD; Jeanine A. Jones, California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento, CA; Roger E. Kasperson, George Perkins Marsh Institute, Clark University; Denise Lach, Department of Sociology, Oregon State University; Jay R. Lund, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California at Davis; Robert Palmer, independent consultant, Gainesville, FL; and Gary W. Yohe, Department of Economics, Wesleyan University. Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Barbaba Entwisle, Carolina Population Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and George M. Hornberger, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Vanderbilt University. Appointed by the NRC’s Report Review Committee, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. We thank the reviewers and the review coordinator and monitor for their diligent analysis and scrupulous comments, which have significantly improved the quality of the report. Robert W. Corell, Chair Kai N. Lee, Vice Chair Panel on Strategies and Methods for Climate-Related Decision Support
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Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate Contents Summary 1 1 The Need for Climate-Related Decision Support 9 2 Effective Decision Support: Definitions, Principles, and Implementation 33 3 Decision Support and Learning 71 4 Information Needs for Decision Support 91 5 A National Initiative for Decision Support 125 References 139 Appendixes A Climate Change and the New York Metropolitan Region 167 B Biographical Sketches of Panel Members and Staff 179 C Workshop Participants 187
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