2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
Paper No. 228-6
Presentation Time: 9:35 AM-9:50 AM

Acting on Inevitable Climate Change: How Should Scientists Participate?

CHANDLER, Mark A., Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, NASA/GISS, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, mac59@columbia.edu, HALLER, Jessica, Environmental Science and Policy MPA, Columbia University, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, MANKOFF, Ken, CCSR, Columbia University, NASA/GISS, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025, MCKEON, Andrew, carbonRational, 1202 Lexington Avenue - 302, New York, NY 10028, and SOHL, Linda, NASA/GISS and Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University, 2880 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

For over two decades, scientists have prepared climate change assessments aimed at policy makers regarding the issue of global warming and its impacts. With the publication in 2007 of the most recent IPCC report, levels of certainty are now very high regarding global temperature increases and their attribution to anthropogenic causes, such as emissions and deforestation. However, the degree of certainty regarding other critical components of the climate system - for example, sea level rise, hydrology, and changes in storm activity - remains below the confidence threshold that scientists require when defining and attributing cause and effect. A continuing and unprecedented effort to improve our confidence in the prediction of such variables is a major focus of climate research centers in preparation for the next IPCC assessment.

There are many stakeholders whose lives and businesses are affected by climate, and who make decisions and take actions even now based on climate data. What level of confidence and degree of scientific consensus should they wait for before beginning to account for climate change projections in their decision making process? The question for scientists is how we can define ways to contribute more directly to people's need to prepare for the future, while still communicating the uncertainties inherent in climate change projections. Effective communication of the science through formal and informal education is an immediate and necessary role for scientists, and scientists are already helping inform policy regarding the need for mitigation, and how that might be accomplished. Any slowing of the pace of change will reduce the need for adaptation, or at least give it more time. But, when it comes to helping businesses and individuals, or society in general, prepare for the coming changes, how long should scientists pursue increased certainty before additionally offering advice regarding specific actions?

2008 Joint Meeting of The Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies with the Gulf Coast Section of SEPM
General Information for this Meeting
Session No. 228
Global Warming Science: Implications for Geoscientists, Educators, and Policy Makers I
George R. Brown Convention Center: General Assembly Theater Hall B
8:00 AM-12:00 PM, Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 40, No. 6, p. 316

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