There was a meeting among a set of modellers from May 6 -9 2008 which was hosted by the European Centre for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) entitled “World Modelling Summit for Climate Prediction”. The goal of the meeting was to provide
“society with reliable regional predictions of climate change at all timescales, necessary to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies. “
Presentations from the meeting are available from this link.
They issued a statement from this meeting which is reproduced in part below with comments by Climate Science. A subsequent post will comment on their specific recommendations. Following is the framework that they have adopted for the Project;
“The Climate Prediction Project
Revolutionizing Global Climate Prediction for Regional Adaptation and Decision-Making in the 21st Century
The world recognizes that the consequences of global climate change constitute one of the most important threats facing humanity. The peoples, governments, and economies of the world must develop mitigation and adaptation strategies, which will require investments of trillions of dollars, to avoid the dire consequences of climate change. The development of reliable science-based adaptation and mitigation strategies will only be possible through a revolution in regional climate predictions supported by appropriate climate observations and assessment, and the delivery of this information to society.
This statement clearly presents the perspective of the organizers of this meeting in that they view global climate change as
“one of the most important threats facing humanity”
requiring “investments of trillions of dollars”.
They also claim that
“The development of reliable science-based adaptation and mitigation strategies will only be possible through a revolution in regional climate predictions supported by appropriate climate observations and assessment, and the delivery of this information to society.”
However, in order to determine the relative importance of the risk of human caused climate change on the environment and society, the first step, which they have not taken, is to evaluate the spectrum of all risks to society and the environment and then to prioritize them! This is a focus that the IGBP itself, one of the organizers of the World Modelling Summit, had previously recommended (e.g. see Figure E.7 in
Kabat, P., Claussen, M., Dirmeyer, P.A., J.H.C. Gash, L. Bravo de Guenni, M. Meybeck, R.A. Pielke Sr., C.J. Vorosmarty, R.W.A. Hutjes, and S. Lutkemeier, Editors, 2004: Vegetation, water, humans and the climate: A new perspective on an interactive system. Springer, Berlin, Global Change – The IGBP Series, 566 pp.)
Bjorm Lomberg in his book Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming comes to a similar conclusion. If the group of scientists who wrote the Climate Prediction Project Statement wants us to spend trillions of dollars, they have an obligation to quantitatively show why the role of human climate forcing, with a specific focus on the emssions of CO2, has a higher priority for such funds then other environmental threats. They also need to define how, what they predict with the models, affects where this vast amount of money would be spent.
Thus the recommendations from this meeting is actually advocacy for a particular policy namely that “reliable science-based adaptation and mitigation strategies….will only be possible through a revolution in regional climate predictions…”.
We should encourage supporting climate models to better understand the climate system. However, to claim that the only way to provide reliable policy strategies is from regional climate predictions is unnecessarily narrow, and clearly self-serving.