Finding Common Ground Fosters Understanding of Climate Change

Feb 18th, 2014 | By | Category: Advocacy, Capacity Development, News

Grasping the concept of climate change and its impact on the environment can be difficult. Establishing common ground and using models, however, can break down barriers and present the concept in an easily understood manner.

In a presentation at this year’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Michigan State University systems ecologist and modeler Laura Schmitt-Olabisi shows how system dynamics models effectively communicate the challenges and implications of climate change.

“In order to face the ongoing challenges posed by climate adaptation, there is a need for tools that can foster dialogue across traditional boundaries, such as those between scientists, the general public and decision makers,” Schmitt-Olabisi said. “Using boundary objects, such as maps, diagrams and models, all groups involved can use these objects to have a discussion to create possible solutions.”

Schmitt-Olabisi has vast experience working directly with stakeholders using participatory model-building techniques. She uses a model of a hypothetical heat wave in Detroit to illustrate the implications of climate change.

Climate change is anticipated to increase the frequency and intensity of heat waves in the Midwest, which could potentially claim hundreds or thousands of lives. Hot weather kills more people in the United States annually than any other type of natural disaster, and the impacts of heat on human health will be a major climate change adaptation challenge.

To better understand urban health systems and how they respond to heat waves, Schmitt-Olabisi’s team interviewed urban planners, health officials and emergency managers. They translated those interviews into a computer model along with data from earlier Midwestern heat waves.

Participants are able to manipulate the model and watch how their changes affect the outcome of an emergency. The exercise revealed some important limitations of previous approaches to reducing deaths and hospitalizations caused by extreme heat.

“The model challenges some widely held assumptions, such as the belief that opening more cooling centers is the best solution,” Schmitt-Olabisi said. “As it turns out, these centers are useless if people don’t know they should go to them.”

More importantly, the model provides a tool, a language that everyone can understand. It is a positive example of how system dynamics models may be used as boundary objects to adapt to climate change, she added.

Overall, Schmitt-Olabisi finds that this approach is a powerful tool for illuminating problem areas and for identifying the best ways to help vulnerable populations. Future research will focus on improving the models’ accuracy as well as expanding it beyond the Midwest.

“In order for the models to be deployed to improve decision-making, more work will need be done to ensure the model results are realistic,” Schmitt-Olabisi said.

Source>>

About

Started in year 2010, ‘Climate Himalaya’ initiative has been working on Mountains and Climate linked issues in the Himalayan region of South Asia. In the last five years this knowledge sharing portal has become one of the important references for the governments, research institutions, civil society groups and international agencies, those have work and interest in the Himalayas. The Climate Himalaya team innovates on knowledge sharing, capacity building and climatic adaptation aspects in its focus countries like Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan. Climate Himalaya’s thematic areas of work are mountain ecosystem, water, forest and livelihood. Read>>

Himalayan Nations at Climate Change Conference-CoP21

Over 150 heads of state and government gathered in Paris at the UN climate change conference on Monday, 30 November, the largest group of leaders ever to attend a UN event in a single day. In speech after speech, they provided political leadership and support to reach an ambitious and effective climate change agreement by…

Read more…

Comments are closed.

seo packagespress release submissionsocial bookmarking services