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Climate Affairs:
“Usable Science” for Society?
Michael H. Glantz
Consortium for Capacity
INSTAAR, Univ. of Colorado
IAFS 1000
10 March 2009
[email protected]
global stew
What I mean by Climate Affairs
• Climate science
• Climate impacts
• On ecosystems
• On societies
• Climate policy & law
• Climate politics
• Climate economics
• Climate ethics & equity
Climate Affairs
(why now?)
• Climate issues:
– Increasingly important to
governments, corporations,
foundations and the public
– Multidisciplinary
• Perceptions:
– Climate anomalies: becoming more
frequent, more costly, more deadly
• Global warming:
– Looming in the 21st century
What I mean by Climate
• Climate variability
• Seasonal to inter-annual
• Climate fluctuations
• Decade scale
• Climate change
“Deep” climate change
–New global climate state
• Extreme meteorological events
• Seasonality
All eyes are on the atmosphere,
Problem Climates or Problem Societies?
Climate is not the only thing that is changing:
Shanghai Harbor
Perceptions of Climate
• Climate as a resource
• Climate as a hazard
• Climate as a constraint
Every society
climate has a mix
of all three, but the
proportions vary
from one country
to the next and one
decade to the next.
Climate is often a resource
Climate-sensitive sectors
• Food production
• Crops
• Fish
• Livestock
• Water resources
• Quantity
• Quality
• Energy
• Public health & safety
• Economy
• Environment
• Other
Hazards of Societal Concern
(whether climate changes or not)
Ice storms
Forest fires
El Niño & La Niña
Global warming
Global warming and extreme weather
Climate Science
•UnderstandHow scientists see the climate system
the climate
•Understand its
•Society is
an integral
US Global Change Research Program, 2000
El Niño
as a
Time Series for
El Niño (red) and La Niña (blue)
Before 1976 more blue than red; after 1976 more red than blue.
Red : El Nino
Blue: La Nina
El Niño comes of age
(October 1997)
Climate Impacts
• On land and sea
• On societies
• Rich and Poor
• Developed and Developing
• North & South
• Human impacts on the atmosphere
• Heat island effect
• Greenhouse gas emissions
• Methods to separate natural from societal
El Nino: What it can do
(based on what it has done in the recent past)
Extremes occur every year
Climate change
More extremes, more frequency, more intensity, new locations
Hurricane Katrina
(August 29, 2005)
Venezuelan Mud slides
December 1999
Superstorm 1993 (March 12-15)
From the Caribbean to Canada
Europe heat wave
Summer 2003
High impact weather
Most weather events aren’t
record setting or extreme.
They get less attention
Yet, high impacts cause
‘misery’, death, destruction
Research them
» along with climate
» change impacts
blockbuster extremes.
Global warming’s “Tipping points”
IPCC 1st to 3rd Assessments
IPCC 4th Assessment
Inconvenient Truth
Nobel Prize
Toward an ice-free Arctic Ocean
Melting Arctic
sea ice
Photo credit:
Peter West, National
Science Foundation
Climate Policy & Law
• Air pollution, acid rain, ozone
depletion, global warming
• Energy consumption, land-use
practices, GHGs emission
• Trans-boundary water issues,
coastal ocean issues,
air-shed management
• IPCC deliberations and reports
We are developing a “Law of the Atmosphere”
Creeping environmental change (CEPs):
Rates and processes of change
1) CEPs are Long-term, low grade
but cumulative environmental
2) Governments have great
difficulty focusing on CEPs
3) Quick onset changes get
attention; slow onset are
neglected, …
» Until, it’s a costly crisis
4) Rates of change are as
important to monitor as are
the processes of change.
5) CEPS can easily be
“Forecasted by Analogy”
Climate Politics
US Cities vs. the Federal Government
• California regulations to
reduce greenhouse gases
from automobiles for the first
time anywhere.
• California's landmark
regulations under attack
from auto industry
• demanding the rollback of new climate
protecting regulations.
The Politics of Rescue
Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina 2005
Climate Politics (this is the latest)
• Ice-Free Arctic
• Land grab by circum-Arctic
• Conservation vs exploitation
• Continental shelf oil claims
• Greenland considering
• US and Russians developing
ice-free Arctic ports
• More Russian farmland but
more Russian methane from
permafrost melt
Local, national, regional, global
Winners or losers in global warming?
International Response to
US Pullout of Kyoto Process
Climate Economics
• Discounting the future
– Present versus future
• Discounting human lives
– Value of lives, North & South
• Prevent, mitigate or adapt
– To climate variability and
Early Warning Systems (EWSs)
more important than
governments might realize
Climate Ethics and Equity
• Generational equity
• Environmental justice
• Downwind or Downstream
• Natural disasters and poverty
• (the poor forced to live in high risk
Polluter Pays
• Precautionary Principle
• (“better safe now than sorry later”)
• Nature’s Bank analogy
• (everyone knows about banks)
Sources & Victims of GHG Impacts
Climate Environmental Refugees
Image credit: Friends of the Earth
Photo credit: Crosbie
Weather (Hurricane Mitch) Refugees
(Oct.-Nov. 1998)
Bottom Line
Separate climate’s
contribution to
climate’s impacts
contribution to
those impacts
“Slumdog Millionaire”
• Q: How could you answer 12 difficult questions?
• A: “They asked me the 12 things I do know.”
Ordinary knowledge is valuable
Something to think about
“I said that I wasn’t clever.
I was just noticing how
things were, and that
wasn’t clever. That was
just being observant.
Being clever was when you
looked at how things are
and used the evidence to
work out something
Haddon, 2002)
Changing role of science
science and society
• Before the 1970s: “Science for
Campaign button
considered radical at
the time
In 1970s: “Science
for the People”
After 2000:
“Science with the
Uppsala Universitet: Field Season 1999
Today, we need all three roles of science