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Global Climate Change: Uncertainties, Risks, and Values in Determining Public Policy “Climate Affairs: A Notion Whose Time Has Come?” Talk presented at the 10th Kuehnast Program University of Minnesota 11 October 2002 Michael H. Glantz, NCAR, Boulder, Colorado [email protected] Climate Affairs: aspects of climate • • • • • • Climate Variability (seasonal to inter-annual) Climate Fluctuations (decade scale) Climate Change “Deep” climate change (new global climate state) Extreme Meteorological Events (where weather meets climate) Seasonality Perceptions of Climate • Climate as a hazard • Climate as a resource • Climate as a constraint In every society climate is a mix of all three, but the proportions vary from one country to the next. Perception of Climate’s Impacts on Agriculture Weather USDA 1984 Reality of Climate’s Impacts on Agriculture Weather USDA 1984 …as a hazard • This is the way that we tend to view climate • Its anomalies can often lead to death and destruction • There is also a misery factor (lost photos,h having to live in a gym for weeks, loss of pets, heirloom losses, etc • Governments most concerned about climate as a hazard. • Governments have responsibility for early warnings. … as a resource • Adequate and reliable precipitation, temperature, seasonality, among other climate conditions make climate a resource for many countries • As a resource, it provides for adequate food production and water resources in a region • Experience from similar ecosystems of coping with climate conditions including extremes can be considered a part of that resource • Reliable and credible forecasts on all time scales can be considered a resources as well • The careful use of climate information can make a hostile climate less so … as a boundary constraint • In the early 1900s climate was viewed as a constraint to personal as well an national economic development prospects • Hot and tropical climates, it was argued, made the people lazy and unproductive in a workplace, whereas seasonal climates of the Northern Hemisphere were invigorating to people and nations • This view was challenged as racist but was more or less in place until the mid 1970s!! • Global warming will change present constraints while creating new ones El Niño as a Hazard-Spawner • El Niño has not been accepted as a natural hazard even though it meets all criteria • However, all would agree that El Niño is a hazard-spawner in the sense that its occurrence has been associated with the likelihood of droughts, floods, fires, etc. around the globe. • The same can be said of La Niña Weather and climate stories are big news items Global warming and the weather Media Headlines Worldwide: El Niño 1997-98 Fostering the notion of Climate Affairs (the purpose) • • • • Foster education on climate-society-environment issues Understand how climate affects society and environment Understand how society affects climate and environment Make climate information “usable” – By the public – By policy makers – By businesses TIME magazine (January 1984): climate connection overlooked Fostering Climate Affairs (why now?) • Climate issues: – Increasingly important to governments, corporations, the public • Perceptions: – Climate anomalies getting more frequent, costly and deadly • Global warming: – Looming in the 21st century Reasons for Concern (climate-related anomalies) • Droughts & floods • Hurricanes & cyclones • Ice storms & frosts • Forest and bush fires • El Niño & La Niña • Infectious diseases • Global warming • Other (locust, dust storms, haze, etc.) Need to improve communicating science Need to improve society’s understanding of science Area of Concern (the impacts of anomalies) • Food production • Food security • Water resources – Quantity – Quality • • • • • • Energy Public health Public safety Economy Environment Other What do we need to know? • Climate science • Climate impacts • On ecosystems • On societies • Climate policy & law • Climate politics • Climate economics • Climate ethics & equity Climate Science • Understand the climate system • Understand its components • Society is a component Modeling the Climate System Climate Change Impacts on the United States, USGCRP, 2000 The Climate System IPCC, 1996 Time Series for El Niño (red) and La Niña (blue) Ocean temperature profile, Equatorial Pacific 1997-98 Popularizing El Nino Global Warming • What’s happening? • Why? • Who’s doing it? • Who’s affected by it? • How do we know? Climate Impacts • On ecosystems – Terrestrial & marine • On societies – Industrialized & agricultural • Human impacts on the atmosphere – Direct & indirect • Methods to assess impacts – Quantitative & qualitative Venezuelan Mud slides December 1999 Hurricane Mitch from Space Superstorm 1993 (March 12-15) From the Caribbean to Canada ENSO: What it can do (based on what it has done in the recent past) Climate Policy & Law • Air pollution, acid rain, ozone depletion, global warming • Energy consumption, land-use practices, GHGs emission controls • Trans-boundary water issues, coastal ocean issues, air-shed management International Response to US Pullout of Kyoto Process Climate Politics • White House effect versus greenhouse effect • Conservation versus exploitation – Greenpeace versus Wise-Use • Technophiles versus technophobes • Dependence on free market mechanisms Local, national, regional, global politics Climate Economics • • • • • Discount Rates Risk assessments Welfare of present versus future generations Forecast value assessments Prevent, mitigate or adapt to climate variability and changes Climate Equity and Ethics • Inter- versus intragenerational equity • Environmental justice • Downwind • Downstream • Disasters and poverty • North-South views • Polluter Pays Principle • Precautionary Principle • Nature’s Bank analogy Where all that C02 comes from (total emissions since 1950 in billions of tons) Could the 21st century become … The Climate Century?