Saturday, June 30, 2007


(From Environmental Science & Policy)

A decision inventory approach for improving decision support for climate change impact assessment and adaptation

By Christopher R. Pyke et al.


Assessing and adapting to the impacts of climate change requires balancing social, economic, and environmental factors in the context of an ever-expanding range of objectives, uncertainties, and management options. The term decision support describes a diverse class of resources designed to help manage this complexity and assist decision makers in understanding impacts and evaluating management options. Most climate-related decision support resources implicitly assume that decision making is primarily limited by the quantity and quality of available information. However, a wide variety of evidence suggests that institutional, political, and communication processes are also integral to organizational decision making. Decision support resources designed to address these processes are underrepresented in existing tools. These persistent biases in the design and delivery of decision support may undermine efforts to move decision support from research to practice. The development of new approaches to decision support that consider a wider range of relevant issues is limited by the lack of information about the characteristics, context, and alternatives associated with climate-related decisions. We propose a new approach called a decision assessment and decision inventory that will provide systematic information describing the relevant attributes of climate-related decisions. This information can be used to improve the design of decision support resources, as well as to prioritize research and development investments. Application of this approach will help provide more effective decision support based on a balanced foundation of analytical tools, environmental data, and relevant information about decisions and decision makers.


Decision support provides a link between decision making, scientific information, and analytical tools. The annual number of publications describing the development or application of decision support systems has grown steadily over the last three decades (Fig. 1) with applications spreading across a broad range of disciplines (Fig. 2). Moreover, these trends underestimates the actual extent of the practice, because it tracks only the use of the term "decision support" and misses important related activities such as soil or agricultural extension services.....


The provision of effective decision support for climate impact assessment and adaptation is a challenging goal. Current approaches are dominated by systems designed to improve the quantity or quality of information available to decision makers. However, theory and practical experience suggest that decision support systems are more likely to lead to desired outcomes when they balance the provision of information with concern for organizational and political processes. These considerations reflect an underdeveloped dimension to existing decision support tools. A more balanced approach will require new data on the characteristics and context surrounding decisions and decision makers. This new information can be used to improve the delivery of decision support, as well as help identify sensitive decisions and valuable adaptive opportunities. Progress in these areas will represent an important contribution toward the long term goal of encouraging the effective use of decision support for adaptation to climate change.


If you have an interest in global warming and its effect on mountain glaciers, you will be thrilled to know that there are over one million websites on the subject. Even before you get to the first site, you already know what you will find. Burning fossil fuels increases atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases, the Earth is warming, mountain glaciers are in full retreat all over the planet, delicate ecosystems are in peril, and humans who rely on the freshwater from mountain glaciers better get creative fast.

Recall that in the Gore film, a great deal of attention was paid to the diminishing "snows of Kilimanjaro" - Gore has made hay in Glacier National Park as well pointing to shrinking glaciers. Retreating mountain glaciers have become a poster-child of the global warming alarmists - no presentation on the subject is complete without one. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says in their recent 2007 Summary for Policymakers "Mountain glaciers and snow cover have declined on average in both hemispheres. Widespread decreases in glaciers and ice caps have contributed to sea level rise."

Someone in Europe missed the memo on this subject as a recent article has appeared in the Journal of Geophysical Research entitled "Very high-elevation Mont Blanc glaciated areas not affected by the 20th century climate change." To say the least, we at World Climate Report were interested in what the authors had to say.

The research was conducted by six scientists from leading agencies and departments in France and Switzerland that deal with hydrology and glaciology. Before you see the title of the article and immediately suspect some conspiracy funded by European coal companies, be aware that the research was funded by Observatoire des Sciences de l'Univers de Grenoble (OSUG), the European Programs ALPCLIM and CARBOSOL, and by the city of Chamonix Mont-Blanc. Given the title of the article, we wonder if the six scientists will ever be funded again by any European agencies.

Mont Blanc is located on the border of Switzerland and France, and the summit of Mont Blanc is clearly visible from the United Nations complex in Geneva - the home of countless meetings of the IPCC and other international agencies addressing the climate change issue. How ironic - based on the title of the article, we doubt the research will be prominently featured in any upcoming IPCC meeting in Geneva.

The Vincent et al. team collected a variety of datasets that could help them understand how the high elevation glaciers of Mont Blanc were impacted by variations and trends in climate. Among other findings, they found that the mass balance of the glaciers is strongly controlled by precipitation, not temperature. The team used accurate survey maps from 1905 to compare to maps they generated with modern GPS measurements, and by subtracting the two surfaces, they could determine changes in the ice fields during the 20th century. Vincent et al. state "The most striking features of these figures are the small thickness changes observed over the 20th century. For both areas, thickness variations do not exceed ~15 m. The average changes are +2.6 m at Dome du Gouter and -0.3 m at Mont Blanc. Considering the uncertainty interval, i.e., ~5 m, it can be concluded that no significant thickness change is detectable over most of these areas".

Putting all their findings together regarding the surface mass balance (SMB) of these two glaciers, they state "All these results suggest that the SMB at Dome du Gouter and Mont Blanc did not experience any significant changes over the 20th century."

The first sentence of their conclusions section states "Geodetic measurements carried out in 1905 and 2005 on the highest ice fields of the Mont Blanc range indicate small thickness changes and show that these very high-elevation glaciated areas have not been significantly affected by climate change over the last 100 years."

Later in the conclusions section, they write "In any case, this study reveals that the very high-elevation ice fields in the Mont Blanc area have not been affected by the climate warming. The 20th century climate warming affected the atmospheric temperature in the Alps by +1øC. However this change did not significantly affect the ice deformation rate in the high-altitude ice fields since the ice temperature remains far below the melting point and therefore keeping the glacier frozen to its bed."

We get the message, but we strongly suspect folks at the United Nations in Geneva would have no time for this message from the top of nearby Mont Blanc!



An interview:

Most leading climate experts don't agree with Henrik Svensmark, the 49-year-old director of the Center for Sun-Climate Research at the Danish National Space Center in Copenhagen. In fact, he has taken a lot of blows for proposing that solar activity and cosmic rays are instrumental in determining the warming (and cooling) of Earth. His studies show that cosmic rays trigger cloud formation, suggesting that a high level of solar activity-which suppresses the flow of cosmic rays striking the atmosphere-could result in fewer clouds and a warmer planet. This, Svensmark contends, could account for most of the warming during the last century. Does this mean that carbon dioxide is less important than we've been led to believe? Yes, he says, but how much less is impossible to know because climate models are so limited.

There is probably no greater scientific heresy today than questioning the warming role of CO2, especially in the wake of the report issued by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report warned that nations must cut back on greenhouse gas emissions, and insisted that "unless drastic action is taken . . . millions of poor people will suffer from hunger, thirst, floods, and disease."

As astrophysicist ?Eugene Parker, the discoverer of solar wind, writes in the foreword to Svensmark's new book, The Chilling Stars: A New Theory of Climate Change, "Global warming has become a political issue both in government and in the scientific community. The scientific lines have been drawn by 'eminent' scientists, and an important new idea is an unwelcome intruder. It upsets the established orthodoxy."

We talked with the unexpectedly modest and soft-spoken Henrik Svensmark about his work, the criticism it has received, and truth versus hype in climate science.



Many people worry about global warming today. They fear the polar ice caps will melt, raising sea levels and creating environmental chaos. Such concerns are not new. The historical record tells us of many warming episodes - and subsequent cooling periods - that have bedevilled humans for thousands of years.

The ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who lived in 427-347 BC, wrote about major climate changes known in his day. In the dialogue, "Timaeus," he argued global warming occurs at regular intervals, often leading to great floods. Said Plato, "When... the gods purge the Earth with a deluge of water, the survivors... are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains. But those who... live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea."

In the dialogue, "Critias," Plato wrote about weather-related geological changes. He referred to "formidable deluges" that washed away all the top soil, turning the land into a "skeleton of a body wasted by disease." What were now plains had once been covered with rich soil, Plato said, and barren mountains were once covered with trees. The yearly "water from Zeus" had been lost, he went on, creating deserts where the land was once productive.

Plato's student, Aristotle, who lived from 384 BC to 322 BC, also recorded evidence of global warming in his work, "Meteorologica." He noted that in the time of the Trojan War, the land of Argos was marshy and unarable, while that of Mycenae was temperate and fertile. "But now the opposite is the case," Aristotle wrote. "The land of Mycenae has become completely dry and barren, while the Argive land that was formerly barren, owing to the water has now become fruitful." He observed the same phenomenon elsewhere covering large regions and nations.

Theophrastus, a student of Aristotle who lived 374-287 BC, discussed climate change in his work, "De ventis," which means "The Wind." He observed that in Crete, "nowadays the winters are more severe and more snow falls." In earlier times, he said, the mountains there bore grain and fruit, and the island was more populous. But when the climate changed, the land became infertile. In his book, "De causis plantarum," Theophrastus noted the Greek city of Larissa once had plentiful olive trees but that falling temperatures killed them all.

In the first century AD, an ancient Roman named Columella wrote an agricultural treatise called, "De re rustica." In it, he discussed global warming that had turned areas once too cold for agriculture into thriving farm communities. Columella cites an authority named Saserna who recorded many such cases. According to Saserna, "regions which formerly, because of the unremitting severity of winter, could not safeguard any shoot of the vine or the olive planted in them, now that the earlier coldness has abated and weather is becoming more clement, produce olive harvests and the vintages of Bacchus [wine] in greatest abundance."

In the Middle Ages, people began recording the temperature and climate-related phenomena, such as the dates when plants began to blossom annually. They were aware of a warming trend that began around 900 and a cooling trend that began around 1300. We know that during the warm period, the Vikings established settlements in Greenland where perpetual ice had previously covered the land. Ancient Norse records tell us these settlements were abandoned after 1250 when falling temperatures made farming less viable and spreading ice in the sea made transportation more difficult.

The cooling trend led to heavy rains in 14th century Europe that were too much for the crops, leading to reduced agricultural output and numerous famines. In the 15th century, a warming trend returned, which lasted until the middle of the 16th century when temperatures again started to fall. By the 17th century, it was clearly apparent that a cooling trend was altering sea routes, changing the kinds of crops farmers could grow, fishing patterns and so on. Glaciers began to advance rapidly in many places and rivers that had long been ice-free year round started to freeze in the winter. This "little ice age" continued well into the 19th century.

Since then, we have been in a warming cycle that appears to have accelerated around 1950. The point is that we know a great deal about climate changes from the historical record and need not rely solely on scientific studies of core samples, tree rings and so on. These changes occurred long before industrialization and could not possibly have been man-made in any way. They don't prove man is not now affecting the climate through carbon dioxide emissions, but they do tell us temporary warming trends are common in human history. It may only be a matter of time before another cooling trend comes along.



Many people would like to be kind to others so Leftists exploit that with their nonsense about equality. Most people want a clean, green environment so Greenies exploit that by inventing all sorts of far-fetched threats to the environment. But for both, the real motive is generally to promote themselves as wiser and better than everyone else, truth regardless.

Global warming has taken the place of Communism as an absurdity that "liberals" will defend to the death regardless of the evidence showing its folly. Evidence never has mattered to real Leftists

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


No comments: