Another Outstanding Post By Judy Curry “What Constitutes “Dangerous” Climate Change?”

Judy Curry has presented yet another outstanding weblog post. This one is titled

What constitutes “dangerous” climate change?

I posted the comment below on her weblog.

Judy – This is another outstanding, much needed post!

I would like to add to this discussion by introducing your readers to  Section E of the IGBP BAHC book

Pielke, R.A. Sr. and L. Bravo de Guenni, Eds., 2004: How to evaluate vulnerability in changing environmental conditions. Part E In: Vegetation, Water, Humans and the Climate: A New Perspective on an Interactive System. Global Change – The IGBP Series, P. Kabat et al. Eds., Springer, 483-544.

including the Conclusion chapter [].

In this material, we recommend the adoption of a bottom-up perspective as the most effective (and inclusive) approach to assess the vulnerability of key resources to climate and other environmental and social issues. 

Indeed, we do not know what is “dangerous” until such an assessment is performed. Even with respect to a top down view, alterations in large scale weather patterns, as one example, are only “dangerous” if they negatively influence these resources.

More recently, I posted with the title

 A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective []

in which I wrote

““There are 5 broad areas that we can use to define the need for vulnerability assessments : water, food, energy, [human] health and ecosystem function. Each area has societally critical resources. The vulnerability concept requires the determination of the major threats to these resources from climate, but also from other social and environmental issues. After these threats are identified for each resource, then the relative risk from natural- and human-caused climate change (estimated from the GCM projections, but also the historical, paleo-record and worst case sequences of events) can be compared with other risks in order to adopt the optimal mitigation/adaptation strategy.”

To establish what is “dangerous”, the following are the questions that need to be answered

 1. Why is this resource important?  How is it used? To what stakeholders is it valuable?
 2. What are the key environmental and social variables that influence this resource?
 3.  What is the sensitivity of this resource to changes in each of these key variables? (this includes, but is not limited to, the sensitivity of the resource to climate variations and change on short (e.g. days); medium (e.g. seasons) and long (e.g. multi-decadal) time scales.
 4. What changes (thresholds) in these key variables would have to occur to result in a negative (or positive) response to this resource?
 5. What are the best estimates of the probabilities for these changes to occur? What tools are available to quantify the effect of these changes. Can these estimates be skillfully predicted?
 6. What actions (adaptation/mitigation) can be undertaken in order to minimize or eliminate the negative consequences of these changes (or to optimize a positive response)?
7. What  are specific recommendations  for policymakers and other stakeholders?

I have been appointed as an Editor-in-Chief of a 5 volume set of books that focus on these questions for water, food, energy, human health and ecosystem function which should appear late 2011 or early 2012. We will then have a bottom-up focus on the issue of what are the “dangerous” risks to the key social and environmental resources.

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