Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Climate research program inadequate

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Not good news:

A Bush administration program for improving climate research across 13 government agencies has clarified some scientific questions, but is saddled with delays and threatened by cuts in satellites and programs monitoring conditions on earth, an independent scientific panel said in a report on Thursday.

The Climate Change Science Program, created in 2002 at the request of President Bush, has also not focused enough on assessing impacts of a warming world on human affairs, said the panel, convened by the National Academies, the nation’s pre-eminent scientific advisory group.

Of the $1.7 billion spent each year on climate research, the report said only about $25-$30 million a year is going to studies of impacts on human affairs.

Discovery science and understanding of the climate system are proceeding well, but use of that knowledge to support decision making and to manage risks and opportunities of climate change is proceeding slowly,” the report said.

The panel also said insufficient effort has gone into translating advances in climate science into information useful to local elected officials, farmers, water managers and others potentially affected by climate change, whether or not it is driven by human activities.

One problem is a lack of interaction between government researchers and officials, industries, or communities facing risks or opportunities in a shifting climate, the panel’s chairman, Veerabhadran Ramanathan, said in an interview.

“We don’t know what they need and they don’t know what we can provide,” he said, referring to the government’s science effort.

The program has helped resolve some disputes over lingering questions, like whether the atmosphere several miles above the surface is warming significantly or not.

Different groups of researchers had clashed over how to interpret satellite and balloon measurements. When the groups were brought together to share data and methods, some discrepancies vanished and the atmosphere was found to be warming.

In a printed statement, Dr. Ramanathan said the basic scientific efforts undertaken through the climate program have constituted “an important initiative that has broadened our knowledge of climate change.”

But the report appeared to highlight problems more than successes.

Written by Leisureguy

13 September 2007 at 8:40 am

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