Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Finding common ground fosters understanding of climate change

Date:
February 17, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
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, says an ecologist and modeler.

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.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Finding common ground fosters understanding of climate change." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217122402.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, February 17). Finding common ground fosters understanding of climate change. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217122402.htm
Michigan State University. "Finding common ground fosters understanding of climate change." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/02/140217122402.htm (accessed September 19, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Friday, September 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

Raw: Wildfires in CA Burn Forest Asunder

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) An out-of-control Northern California wildfire has nearly 2,800 people from their homes as it continues to grow, authorities said Thursday. Authorities said a man has been arrested on suspicion of arson for starting the fire on Saturday. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

Raw: Elephant Undergoes Surgery in Tbilisi Zoo

AP (Sep. 18, 2014) Grand the elephant has successfully undergone surgery to remove a portion of infected tusk at Tbilisi Zoo in Georgia. British veterinary surgeons used an electric drill to extract the infected piece. (Sept. 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

Man Floats for 31 Hours in Gulf Waters

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) A Texas man is lucky to be alive after he and three others floated for more than a day in the Gulf of Mexico when their boat sank during a fishing trip. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins