14 February 2007

The Uncertainty of Climate Change

In March of 2004 I was invited to attend a conference at Aspen Global Change Institute called Climate Scenarios and Projections: The Known, the Unknown, and the Unknowable as Applied to California. This three day workshop, attended by scientists and policymakers, focused on California as a regional case study to examine uncertainties in scientific climate models and how this uncertainty affects policymaking. I was invited to attend as a sort of graphic scribe, to listen to the presentations and see if I could visually represent some of what was being discussed. It was a revelation to me to find out what a huge role uncertainty plays in the science of global warming, the making of policy, and the interpretation of scientific understanding by the media and the general public. I created this diagram to show how discussion about climate change between scientists, the media, policymakers and the public could be improved:

click image for larger view

Climate change is a complex issue and I didn't always understand the details that the scientists were presenting in Aspen, but in spite of all the unknown factors in climate change science, I walked away from the workshop absolutely certain that climate change is real and it's serious.

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