date: Tue, 7 Apr 1998 18:00:00 +0100
from: Tom Downing <tom.downingatXYZxyz.OX.AC.UK>
subject: Comments on two recent meetings
After the Amsterdam meeting I attended two other "global change"
meetings, where I saw at least some of you as well. My (very) personal
The GCTE/LUCC Open Science Meeting (Barcelona, end of February)
demonstrated the reluctance of the IGBP (and to some extent the IHDP as
well) to tackle IEA, and the integration of social and natural sciences
in particular. Although there is some experimentation in LUCC, the
emphasis tends to be on using tools to answer a land use question rather
than evaluating the use of the tools themselves.
The IPCC (San Jose, end of March) is beginning to look at adaptation to
impacts, not just mitigation. This opens new doors for IEA, and new
requirements for representing stakeholders and decision making. However
there is no clear methodology or mandate from the IPCC so far, and lots
of dissention about what is adaptation and how to include it in the
third assessment report. Two specific tensions are:
1. Adaptation/short term decision making vv long term scenarios and
the major effort to provide climate scenarios to users (e.g., the data
distribution centers). In the short term, say up to 2025, that is a
pretty long planning horizon for most stakeholders, the climate
scenarios are not well differentiated and are likely to have little
impact on responses. The issue is strategy and uncertainty rather than
predicted impacts. Would the IPCC ever acknowledge that most of the
climate science is irrelevant to most present adaptation decisions?
2. Vulnerability/local development vv impacts/global policy. The
local nature of vulnerability (especially in developing countries) is at
odds with the mandate for large impacts at the global level to drive
climate (abatement) policy.
In contrast, my (very?) personal view of the EF is that at least we are
asking the right questions and have assembled a first-rate group of
people who are willing to learn from each other.