SESSION IV: How AIP and its Member Societies Can Capitalize on Opportunities in Energy Research and Climate Research
American Meteorological Society
Science in the policy process: rational decision-making or Faustian bargain?
Public policy advances the interests of society most effectively when it is grounded in the best available knowledge. Unfortunately, persistent gaps in understanding between the research and policy communities hinder the development of climate policy. In the broadest sense, society has three pro-active options for managing the risks our greenhouse gas emissions pose. One, we could mitigate, or reduce, our emissions and thereby reduce the magnitude of future climate change. Two, we could increase our ability to cope with climate changes by building our adaptive capacity. Three, we could geo-engineer, that is, develop and deploy additional global scale changes to the earth system in the hope of counteracting the worst impacts of our greenhouse gas emissions (an option that raises the specter of unintended, unpleasant, and uncontrollable side-effects). To date, our elected leaders and their appointees have barely scratched the surface of this broader range of options. As a result, we're almost certainly overlooking important strategies for navigating the danger society faces from climate change. Members of the scientific community can help. In this talk, I'll discuss the role of, and limits to, science in the policy process using current Federal climate policy discussions as an example. I'll also describe the American Meteorological Society's (AMS) efforts to help train scientists to more effectively engage with policy makers through the AMS Summer Policy Colloquium and other ways that members of our community can help improve the policy process.
Paul Higgins is a Senior Policy Fellow at the American Meteorological Society. He develops and advances solutions to climate change. As part of these efforts, he recently initiated a web commentary project focused on climate policy (http://www.ClimatePolicy.org). He also oversees the AMS-UCAR Congressional Science Fellowship Program.
From 2005-2006 Paul was a Congressional Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). During his fellowship year, he analyzed climate policy in the office of Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH). While there he developed provisions to encourage international cooperation and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in ways that broadly benefit a wide range of stakeholders.
Paul's scientific research examines the causes and consequences of global climate change. He received Ph.D. and M.S. degrees from Stanford University and was a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow at the University of California. He is a former fellow of the Department of Energy's Global Change Education Program.