by Judith Curry
I’m looking for ideas and discussion on ways to improve what I regard to be a broken interface between climate science and policy.
I’m preparing a new document (I’ll be able to post it next week). I’m struggling with how to frame some recommendations for improving this situation. Here is some text along with recommendations to kick off the discussion. I look forward to your comments.
We need to rethink the contract between scientists and government, and develop a new model for the 21st century, particularly for policy-relevant science. This is needed to insure the integrity of science and to improve the basis for science to inform the policy process.
Here are my recommendations:
- Embrace science as an iterative process, not a collection of ‘facts.’ Scientists should engage the public across the political spectrum and invite them to engage in the process of science.
- Universities need new incentive structures for faculty members working in scientific fields that are policy relevant, that focus on careful management of bias and uncertainty, public engagement, responsible interactions with the media, and participation in the policy process as an honest broker.
- Scientists need a much better understanding of the policy process, the role that science plays, and how complexity, pluralism and uncertainty in science is accommodated in the policy process.
- Scientists need better guidelines on the ethical implications of using their expertise for political purposes and a code of conduct for communicating uncertainty and making public, and responsibilities for making public statements related to their expertise.
- Bias and advocacy by institutions that support science such as professional societies is a major concern for the integrity of the scientific processes. These institutions should be incentivized to support debates at professional meetings and to adopt parallel evidence-based analyses for competing hypotheses.
- For policy-relevant science and regulatory science, more formal methods of uncertainty characterization and management should be used in scientific research and assessments.
- For policy-relevant and/or regulatory science where there is substantial uncertainty or disagreement about key conclusions, a Red Team or Team B approach should be used for assessments to clarify the strength of the arguments and key areas of disagreement.
- While federal funding for science rightfully targets certain topics that are policy relevant, narrow framing of research priorities on topics where there are widespread uncertainties and debate can bias the research. Funding for Red Team or Team B approaches would help avoid such biases.
- Funding priorities in climate research that support fundamental observing systems (surface and satellite-based), fundamental climate dynamics research and research to improve short-term climate predictions (sub-seasonal to interannual) would support improved climate modeling systems and lay the foundations for disruptive advances in our understanding of the climate system and our ability to predict emergent phenomena such as abrupt climate change.
- Social science research is needed to analyze ways of incorporating scientific understanding with all of its uncertainties into complex decision making related to wicked problems.