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  Home » The 2011 Stephen H. Schneider Scientific Symposium » Symposium Day 3
Stanford University
  Stephen H. Schneider Symposium
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Day 3 — August 27, 2011

Introduction to Day 3

Jean-Pascal van Ypersele — Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

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Session 13: A brief history of the journal Climatic Change



Susan Solomon — Earth System Research Laboratory

Gary Yohe — Wesleyan University

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This presentation will identify the most frequently cited papers published in Climatic Change since Volume 1 appeared in 1977 on the basis of the number of citations recorded in Google Scholar across three cohorts of papers (1977-1986); 1987-1996; and 1997-present). Working with three distinct cohorts accounts to some degree for differences in length of time that each paper had to be cited. The contributions of the five most cited papers to the knowledge base will be briefly described.


Session 14: Steve Schneider's contributions to the IPCC



Michael Oppenheimer — Princeton University

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Chapters 19 of IPCC's Third and Fourth (and I hope, Fifth Assessment) reports, taken together, can be viewed as a an effort to construct a comprehensive and integrated framework for managing the risk of climate change, particularly in the context of Article 2 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and its long term objective of avoiding "dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system". Steve's research (with many colleagues) influenced the TAR's primary contribution to this framework, the Reasons for Concern. Under his leadership as one of three collaborating lead authors of chapter 19 in AR4, his conceptualization, research, and expert judgments were critical factors in elaborating the framework in terms of key vulnerabilities, a more disaggregated approach to risk management. There the definition of seven specific metrics of "danger" (magnitude, timing, persistence and reversibility, likelihood and confidence, distribution, potential for adaptation, and importance), allowed a detailed elaboration of his earlier attempt1 to analyze vulnerability in terms of five "numeraries": lives lost, market impacts, biodiversity loss, distributional impacts, and quality of life. A particularly significant advance was the recognition that distribution of impacts should be analyzed in terms of a large variety of groupings or communities at different scales, not just political or geographic association. But transcending these particulars are Steve's two outstanding achievements of AR4: his strong and ultimately successful advocacy of the view that IPCC should adopt a risk management framework, a commitment made explicit in the Synthesis Report; and the success of chapter 19 as an important stepping stone toward interpreting Article 2, an achievement which is in large measure attributable to Steve's unique inspirational and leadership skills.

Schneider SH, Kuntz-Duriseti K, Azar C (2000) Costing nonlinearities, surprises, and irreversible events, Pacific and Asian Journal of Energy: 10, 81-106.




Chris Field — Stanford

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Steve was very careful about picking the big stages for his messages. He picked stages where he and his message got noticed, and where the notice could lead to concrete progress in science or policy. For Steve, the IPCC was definitely a favorite stage, one he considered worthy of his investing vast amounts of time and energy, as well as his tolerating substantial frustrations. Why was the IPCC so worthwhile for Steve and the entire climate science community? And what might be done to make it even more worthwhile in the future? Several features make the IPCC unique, including the comprehensiveness of its assessments and the thoroughness of its multi-pass, monitored review process. But the feature that really makes the IPCC unique is the way it operates as a partnership between governments and the scientific community. The partnership is not mostly about the word by word approval of Summaries for Policymakers, though that is one component. The essence of the partnership is the agreement that, if the scientific community follows the rules, the governments will use the assessment as the scientific foundation for discussions on issues related to climate policy. This is the feature that makes the IPCC unique, uniquely powerful, and uniquely threatening. The unique relationship between governments and the scientific community is a great asset of the IPCC, but the institution needs to keep evolving if it is to serve society as effectively as possible. Especially in the last two years, the IPCC has faced a wide range of wide range of challenges. In some cases, it has tested the limits of its relationship with both supporters and critics. Overall, the IPCC has proven itself resilient in the face of these challenges, but the challenges and the responses to them have revealed a number of questions yet to be addressed. Among the important questions the community is asking the IPCC, and the IPCC is asking itself are the following:

1) How can the IPCC be open and transparent while still protecting the interests of the individual contributors and also protecting the interest of the public in information that has been triple checked for accuracy and references, through several rounds of reviews?
2) How can the IPCC remain comprehensive in the face of the exploding quantity of scientific information on climate change?
3) Can the IPCC continue to simultaneously manage the mandates for including authors who are the leading scientists, authors with diverse views, and authors from all sections of the world?
4) How can the IPCC provide information that is both timely and responsive to the changing needs of policymakers while also adding the value from the IPCC review and approval process?
5) How can the IPCC take advantage of new technologies to enhance the effectiveness of its scientific and public outreach?
6) How can the IPCC address the full range of topics where scientific approaches are relevant without compromising its mandate that the work must be policy relevant but not policy prescriptive?

Finding good answers to these and other questions will be critical in sustaining an IPCC that meets the needs of a changing world.




Ben Santer — Lawrence Livermore National Lab

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In November 1995, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) held a plenary meeting in Madrid. The purpose of this meeting was to approve the Summary for Policymakers (SPM) of the Second Assessment Report of the IPCC's Working Group I, and to accept the 11 underlying chapters on which the SPM was based. After three days of intense and sometimes acrimonious deliberation, the official delegates of all 96 countries represented in Madrid approved the SPM's historic finding that "The balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate". This talk discusses the extraordinary events surrounding the genesis of this statement. It will highlight the critical role Steve Schneider played in persuading one Madrid delegate that the IPCC's "discernible human influence" finding had a sound scientific basis.




Open discussion of Sessions 13 and 14

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Session 15: The challenge of climate change mitigation and adaptation: How do we translate sound climate science into sound policies?


Rick Piltz — Climate Science Watch

Ana Unruh-Cohen — Democratic Staff, Committee on Natural Resources

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Climate and energy are amongst the top issues in domestic and international politics, necessitating increasing input from the science and technology spheres to policymakers. Science is just one component that influences policymaker's decisions. I will provide an insider's view on how lawmakers use science in energy and climate policymaking in an increasingly carbon-constrained world and discuss the latest developments in the U.S. Congress.




Joe Romm — Climate Progress

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It is increasingly unlikely that the nation and the world will take serious action to address global warming this decade, although it would be inexpensive to do so relative to the alternative. And so we keep our foot stuck on the gas, dramatically accelerating the risks of multiple catastrophes this century that individually would be enough to motivate WWII-scale action, but in combination – widespread Dust-Bowlification, 7 to 10°F warming (or more), sea level rise of several feet, ever-worsening extreme weather events, ocean acidification and the accompanying mass extinction of marine life -- are the gravest threat to human civilization we have ever known. What the heck should we be saying and doing about this?




Jay Gulledge — Pew Center

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In a rare display of international leadership on climate policy, the United States military has adopted the official stance that climate change is a threat multiplier and likely a defining security challenge of the 21st century. Two primary needs of the national security/foreign policy community are to assess how climate change is likely to impact the national interest and to develop a risk-management framework that shapes a comprehensive response. However, national security decision makers lack climate-related information they deem "actionable" to formulate meaningful policy and practice. Even though the scope and quality of scientific information continues to increase and improve, this information is not often presented in a form that is both accessible and useful to decision makers. The same can be said for business decision makers, although that community is more fragmented and varied in how it responds limited information. Different needs, priorities, processes, cultures and philosophies separate the information producer and consumer communities and multiple barriers impede effective communication across this gap. A stovepiped producer community inhibits the interdisciplinarity required to produce actionable information. Producers are culturally and institutionally predisposed to achieving scholarly goals and aiding in governance is viewed as a secondary benefit. The consumer community is generally unaware of the variety of disciplines involved and the various archives of scientific information. A shortage of translators who understand both climate information and decision makers' needs also inhibits information transfer. A lack of mutual trust may inhibit the formation of lasting relationships between consumer and producer groups. Fundamentally, bridging the information gap requires that consumer institutions incentivize the production of information tailored to their needs and that producer institutions value and reward work aimed at facilitating governance. Some cultural, philosophical and institutional adaptations are required of both producers and consumers, but wholesale reform is unlikely and probably unnecessary.




Robert Watson — Department for Environmental Food and Rural Affairs, U.K.

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I will discuss the role of national and international research programs, national and international assessments (e.g., the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Stern Report, the UK Climate Change Risk Assessment, and the UK Go-Science Foresight Study of Climate Change) and advisory bodies (e.g., the UNFCCC SBSTA and the UK Climate Change Committee and its adaptation sub-committee) in translating sound science into "sound" climate change policy. I will also briefly discuss how assessments (e.g., the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, the Ad-hoc Technical Advisory Group Assessments of the Convention on Biological Diversity, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, and the proposed Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services) and advisory bodies on related issues such as biodiversity and ecosystem services are relevant to climate change mitigation and adaptation.




Open discussion of Session 15

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Reports from rapporteurs & the future of the Symposium

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After-dinner remembrances

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Copyright 2011, Stephen H. Schneider, Stanford University