WunderBlog Archive » Dr. Ricky Rood's Climate Change Blog

Category 6 has moved! See the latest from Dr. Jeff Masters and Bob Henson here.

Climate Policy Interface Question 1

By: Dr. Ricky Rood, 2:23 AM GMT on April 03, 2009

It is the time of year in my class where I am giving my scientist view of policy options for managing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That means, I spend some time thinking about the viability of the carbon market. (For any of you who pay attention to my various wikis, like for my class and other things, they were all "devastated" yesterday. Recovery unclear.) You can see some of my thinking over at climatepolicy.org

I have been running a poll in class for the last four years and in all of the public lectures I give. Some of you may recall this idea that I introduced called a policy catalyst; that is, something to motivate the convergence of all the factors that need to come together for policy to happen. This follows from the idea that scientific investigation produces both knowledge and uncertainty about the knowledge. The uncertainty can always be used to keep policy from converging, unless there is some otherwise compelling reason for the policy to be made. That compelling reason is what I call the policy motivator or catalyst. (I am waiting for a political scientist to improve my thinking on this.) (More on Science Policy Interface)

The poll is simple. What do you think will be the policy motivators? I ask the question at least twice over the course of class or a lecture. The nature of the first round of answers is generally in the spirit of the following. Action on climate change will be motivated by the impact of climate change on:

- Human Health, disease transmission and extreme weather

- Agriculture, the ability to grow food

- Water resources, the need for water to drink and to farm

- Sea level rise, the threat to coastal cities

- Economy, threats to the economy from the above

There are others. I know that I don't usually get a lot of answers to direct questions on this blog, but I keep trying. What do you think will be the motivators that help the development of climate change policy?


A number of people who write in the blog comments say that they are sharpening their arguments. This past weekend I was listening to a show called Intelligence Squared U.S. (You might wonder about the exciting edgy life I lead.) This is a debate show, and I recommend the episode Is Reducing Carbon Emissions Worth the Cost?. I am not going to tell you the results of this debate. All I will tell you, is that neither side of the debate anchored their arguments on whether or not the science of climate change was valid. If you want to think about honing arguments, listen to this.


What if I did a poll about the Final Four. What color is the sky?

Is it just me, or is the economy starting to look a little better?

Just full of questions.


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.