February 28, 2007
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Global Climate Change Digest
A Guide to Information on Greenhouse Gases and Ozone Depletion
Published July 1988 through June 1999
FROM VOLUME 8, NUMBER 12, DECEMBER 1995
How Reliable Are Their Predictions?", E.J. Barron (Earth Systems Sci. Ctr.,
Deike Bldg., Pennsylvania State Univ., Univ. Pk. PA 16802), Consequences,
1(3), 16-27, Autumn 1995.
Computer-based general circulation models are modified versions of the
mathematical simulations that have been used for decades to forecast weather.
Many now in use around the world have been independently derived and are
continually compared and evaluated for their ability to reproduce documented
climate features of the past. However, because they are based on our present,
evolving knowledge of how the climate system operates and have coarse spatial
resolution, their projections of future climate are cast in terms of a range of
uncertainty. Nevertheless, they are our best and only hope of anticipating
future changes in climate, and we only lose if we dismiss their findings,
outright, as too equivocal or theoretical or incomplete. Choices of whether or
how to act on what is predicted are best made with a knowledge of both the
strengths of these tools and their weaknesses. We can count on continued
improvements in model reliability.
Since 1970," J.H. Ausubel (Prog. Human Environ., Rockefeller Univ., Box
234, 1230 York Ave., New York NY 10021), D.G. Victor, I.K. Wernick, ibid.,
A broad review of developments in the 25 years since the beginning of the
modern era of wide environmental awareness. Considers environmental awareness in
three ways: assesses underlying forces of economic and population growth; looks
at indicators of the environment itself; and examines changes in management and
A percapita rise in energy consumption in the less developed countries has
been roughly balanced by reductions elsewhere, and though developed nations
still consume a disproportionate share, there is a trend toward energy
efficiency and reduced release of carbon to the atmosphere per unit of usable
energy. During this time, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere rose
10 percent, and production of ozone-depleting chemicals grew steadily, then
leveled off in response to unprecedented collective actions. International
attention to global problems increased immensely. What has been learned, good or
bad, in the more developed nations can help guide the less developed countries.
Road from Bellagio," R.J. Fuchs (Intl. START Secretariat, 2000 Florida Ave.
NW, S. 200, Washington DC 20009), Global Environ. Change, 5(5),
397-404, Dec. 1995.
Development of the START initiative (a Global Change SysTem for Research,
Analysis and Training) is sponsored by the three major international global
change science programs: the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP),
the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), and the Human Dimensions of Global
Environmental Change Program (HDP). The primary objective is development of
regional frameworks to support regional research related to global change, and
synthesis scientific assessments related to policy development. Six of these
networks are being developed in Southeast Asia, Northern Africa, East Asia,
South Asia, the Mediterranean, and Southern Africa. Current concerns include the
need for a more elaborate HDP, and multi-donor, multi-year financial support.
The latter goal will be easier to achieve if scientists make the potential
relevance of their work more explicit to policymakers.
A recent collection of
papers on "Climate Change and World Food Supply," is reviewed
extensively by A.M. Pittock (CSIRO Div. Atmos. Res., PB 1, Mordialloc, Victoria
3195, Australia), in Environment, 37(9), 25-30, Nov. 1995.
The papers were published as specials issues of Global Environ. Change
and Food Policy. (See Prof. Pubs. sections on Climate Change and Food in
GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE DIGEST, April & May, 1994.) Reviews the
assumptions, biases and internal contradictions of the papers, and finds that,
given the weaknesses of the integrated assessments presented, the main value of
the papers lies more in the questions they raise than in the answers they
provide. Some of the authors appear to believe that all will be well if only we
undertake a bit of institutional change, an optimism that is difficult to share.
Achieving food security in the 21st century constitutes an immense
technological, institutional and societal challenge, difficult to meet in the
face of the present inequities, continuing conflicts, compassion fatigue, and
the politics of greed.
in Environmental Protection," Environ. Sci. & Technol., 29(11),
515A-521A, Nov. 1995.
A panel of ten experts debates the changing landscape of U.S. environmental
regulations on the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Environmental
Protection Agency. Discusses the future of command-and-control regulations,
science and policy, what the U.S. can learn from other countries, and the
influence of environmental groups.
Warming: Ecology and Global Change," P.M. Vitousek (Dept. Biol. Sci.,
Stanford Univ., Stanford CA 94305), Ecology,
75(7), 1861-1876, Oct. 1994.
Although ecologists involved in management or policy are often advised to
learn to deal with uncertainty, there are a number of anthropogenic components
of global environmental change of which we are certain, including rising
concentrations of atmospheric CO2, alterations in the
biogeochemistry of the global nitrogen cycle, and land use/land cover change. In
this essay, presented upon the acceptance of the MacArthur Award of the
Ecological Society of America, the author argues that ecologists must learn how
to deal more effectively with
certainty. Much of the public believes the causes or even existence of
global change to be uncertain and contentious topics; by speaking out
effectively, ecologists can help shift the focus of public discussion towards
what can and should be done.
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