February 28, 2007
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FROM VOLUME 10, NUMBER 3, MARCH 1997
GENERAL INTEREST AND POLICY
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: Consensual Knowledge and Global Politics,"
S. Shackley (Ctr. for the Study of Environ. Change, Lancaster Univ., Lancaster LA1 4YN,
UK), Global Environ. Change, 7(1), 77-79, Apr. 1997.
Discusses accomplishments and problems over the eight-year of history of the IPCC,
during which the atmosphere of debate has become more intense as the group moved from
studying the phenomenon of climate change to considering policy responses. The original
structure of the working groups appeared to assert the primacy of the natural sciences
over the social sciences, and while this situation has changed somewhat, vast areas of
relevant scholarship and understanding are still excluded. For instance, economics is the
only social science discipline currently employed to understand social behavior related to
climate change. Issues critical to the IPCC's future are: flexibility; involvement of
developing countries; definition of its continued role in the climate negotiation process;
and maintenance of its authority as a trusted expert body. The group may still have an
important role guiding the integration of climate change considerations into the much
wider set of concerns of both policy actors and members of the lay public.
In an introduction to this article, T. O'Riordan and A. Jordan comment that the
scientific consensus of the IPCC has been widely acclaimed but politically ignored. The
IPCC should emphasize joint development strategies as much as it has emphasized greenhouse
gas mitigation in the industrialized world. Vital opportunities that would link activities
implemented jointly to improved trade, aid and debt relief currently remain unexplored.
"Open Letter to Ben Santer," Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 78(1),
81-83, Jan. 1997.
The September 1996 issue of the Bulletin contained a letter authored by
officials of the American Meteorological Society and others supporting Ben Santer, the
lead author of a controversial chapter of the IPCC second assessment that discusses
evidence for a human influence on climate change. (See Global Climate Change Digest,
PROF. PUBS./OF GEN. INTEREST, Oct.-Nov. 1996.) The longest of the three comments appearing
here is authored by 10 scientists including noted greenhouse skeptics S. Fred Singer,
Richard Lindzen, and Patrick Michaels. The major point they discuss is how climate science
is being misused for political purposes, which they consider the real issue rather than
the legalistic debate about IPCC procedure.
"Twentieth-Century Sea Surface Temperature Trends," M.A. Cane (Lamont-Doherty
Earth Observ., Rte. 9W, Palisades NY 10964), A.C. Clement et al., Science, 275(5302),
957-960, Feb. 14, 1997.
(See RESEARCH NEWS, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Mar. 1997.) This
analysis of historical sea surface temperatures provides evidence for global warming since
1900, in line with land-based analyses of global temperature trends, and also shows that
over the same period, the eastern equatorial Pacific cooled and the east-west gradient of
sea surface temperature increased. Recent theoretical studies have predicted such a
pattern as a response of the coupled ocean-atmosphere system to an imposed heating of the
tropical atmosphere. However, this type of response is absent in current climate model
simulations of increased greenhouse gases, probably because their spatial resolution is
If the theoretical studies are correct, these results provide evidence that climatic
feedbacks related to coupled ocean-atmosphere motions are delaying, and possibly
regulating, global warming. But this moderation will not last forever, and associated sea
surface temperature changes in the tropical Pacific would engender changes in regional
climate and climate variability over much of the Earth that would likely have substantial
social and economic consequences.
Research: The Case for the Social Sciences," H. von Storch (Inst. Hydrophys., GKSS
Res Ctr., Geesthacht, Ger.), N. Stehr, Ambio, 26(1), 66-71, Feb. 1997.
(This and the following paper are part of a special issue; see PROF. PUBS./A CENTURY OF
CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH, this Global Climate Change Digest issue--Mar. 1997.) The
history of climate impacts research has been dominated by the doctrine of "climate
determinism," which holds that a region's climate influences human social conduct,
attitudes and abilities. A more realistic form of impact research is needed as a basis for
policy concerning anthropogenic climate change. Rejects the view that the problem should
be handled with an "optimal control" approach that merely balances abatement
costs against damage costs. Instead, impact research must recognize the interactions
between society and climate by drawing extensively on social science expertise. Social
scientists could help understand the process by which society constructs climate-related
knowledge and beliefs, the dynamics of social preferences, and even the role of natural
scientists (who are influenced by various subjective and social mechanisms).
Arrhenius to Megascience: Interplay Between Science and Public Decisionmaking," A.
Elzinga (Dept. Theory of Sci. & Res., Univ. Göteborg, S-412 98 Göteborg, Swed.), ibid.,
The majority of the paper focuses on Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius and the major
themes in his ideal of science: what constitutes a good scientific explanation; how
science ideally develops; and the relationship between research and decision-making in
society. These views of 100 years ago are then used as background to examine the complex
intertwining of research and politics that developed after World War I. Discusses how
policy determination of scientific agendas introduces an organized social dimension, in
which the drive for consensus may contradict the ideal of a "Darwinian struggle of
hypotheses" advocated by Arrhenius. Offers a model of mutually-reinforcing
credibility cycles, linking science and politics, for understanding the social dynamics of
scientific climate change research.
Warming and Developing Countries-The Possibility of a Solution by Accelerating
Development," Y. Murota (Shonan Econometrics Inc., 3-23-1 Kataseyama, Fujisawa,
Kanagawa 251, Japan), K. Ito, Energy Policy, 24(12), 1061-1077, Dec. 1966.
Shows how, contrary to current opinion, rapid development of non-industrialized
countries might bring about a long-term solution to the global warming problem. This
conclusion is based on a model of development which calculates by region the world's
economic growth, population growth, energy supply and demand, CO2 emissions and
other factors, through the end of the next century. Steps necessary to realize this
scenario include accelerating development in developing countries, expediting their shift
to renewable energy through carbon taxes, and transferring energy saving technologies from
developed to developing countries.
Loads' Sensitivity to Climate Change," Environ. Conserv., 22(4),
363-365, Winter 1995.
A critical load is the highest quantity of a pollutant deposited from the air (such as
acid precipitation) that will not lead to long-term, harmful consequences to ecosystems.
This paper summarizes empirical evidence demonstrating the sensitivity of critical load
calculations to assumed future hydrological regimes. Disregarding the possibility of
climate change in critical-load estimates could mean that international pollution-control
protocols that were established over the past decade may fail to yield the anticipated
catchment recovery in the next century. This result could compromise the credibility of
scientific advice and the results of mathematical models in political circles.
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