finding 26.1 : integrating-scientific-information-into-decisions

Decisions about how to address climate change can be complex, and responses will require a combination of adaptation and mitigation actions. Decision-makers – whether individuals, public officials, or others – may need help integrating scientific information into adaptation and mitigation decisions.

This finding is from chapter 26 of Climate Change Impacts in the United States: The Third National Climate Assessment.

Process for developing key messages: During March-June 2012, the author team engaged in multiple technical discussions via teleconference (6 telecons) and email and in a day-long in-person meeting (April 27, 2012, in Washington, D.C.). Authors reviewed over 50 technical inputs provided by the public and a wide variety of technical and scholarly literature related to decision support, including reports from the National Research Council that provided recent syntheses of the field (America’s Climate Choices series, especially the reports Informing an Effective Response to Climate Changea230ab8f-a284-491a-91cd-45d7b8b32bdf and Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate7ab8b14a-38c7-4128-b0e3-fe1ab65edac0). During the in-person meeting, authors reflected on the body of work informing the chapter and drafted a number of candidate critical messages that could be derived from the literature. Following the meeting, authors ranked these messages and engaged in expert deliberation via teleconference and email discussions in order to agree on a small number of key messages for the chapter.

Description of evidence base: The sensitivity of the climate system to human activities, the extent to which mitigation policies are implemented, and the effects of other demographic, social, ecological, and economic changes on vulnerability also contribute to uncertainty in decision-making. Uncertainties can make decision-making in the context of climate change especially challenging for several reasons, including the rapid pace of changes in physical and human systems, the lags between climate change and observed effects, the high economic and political stakes, the number and diversity of potentially affected stakeholders, the need to incorporate scientific information of varying confidence levels, and the values of stakeholders and decision-makers.2b5c7bad-fea0-452f-adcf-028d2afc4c84 7ab8b14a-38c7-4128-b0e3-fe1ab65edac0 An iterative decision process that incorporates constantly improving scientific information and learning through periodic reviews of decisions over time is helpful in the context of rapid changes in environmental conditions.7ab8b14a-38c7-4128-b0e3-fe1ab65edac0 65ce3b87-d63b-4582-a9b5-f25510b64e97 The National Research Council has concluded that an “iterative adaptive risk management” framework, in which decisions are adjusted over time to reflect new scientific information and decision-makers learn from experience, is appropriate for decisions about adaptation and ways to reduce future climate change, especially given uncertainties and advances in scientific understanding.a230ab8f-a284-491a-91cd-45d7b8b32bdf 5dce5300-d368-4ad2-9681-bbb4f24a7d50 Well-designed decision support processes, especially those in which there is a good match between the availability of scientific information and the capacity to use it, can result in more effective outcomes based on relevant information that is perceived as useful and applicable.c66fd9d5-09b6-46a7-bfdc-82746c679bea

New information and remaining uncertainties: N/A

Assessment of confidence based on evidence: N/A

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