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Human Interactions with the Carbon Cycle: Summary of a Workshop
study of fossil fuel use that might be asked to add on data on changing speed limit policies so the policy effects could be analyzed. Participants disagreed about the potential value of add-ons. An argument in favor was that it could leverage funds; an argument in opposition was that some social scientists had resisted environmental add-ons in past National Science Foundation funding rounds.
Other suggestions for supporting integration of social and natural science expertise were to require cross-disciplinary collaboration as a condition for funding as some programs of the Environmental Protection Agency have done and to add money to multiple projects for cross-project meetings if the sponsoring agency sees benefit in bringing them together.
Sarmiento saw a need for a social science equivalent of the scientific detection and attribution research that has been done on global climate change. He also raised the question of research on carbon management. Dietz said that such research could investigate both whether a particular management goal is attainable and what it would take to achieve it. Sally Kane noted a need for research on adaptation as well as management. Pitcher noted that none of the existing environmental control models include the cost of management choices and suggested that consistent pricing elements need to be incorporated into models.
Schneider noted institutional constraints and opportunities in doing this kind of work and raised a few substantive issues. If leakage of sequestered carbon is a critical issue, he proposed research on “learning by doing” and on how to reduce leakage by learning. He suggested research on the internal consistency of scenarios as a way to move toward attaching probabilities to the scenarios. This suggestion ties to discussions earlier in the workshop about having scenarios developed separately from the process of assessing them and about “forbidden” questions in scenario development (such as “What happens if development lags in many developing countries?”). Schneider also proposed research on the inertial effects of human activity past 2100, because that is when the most serious climate changes appear most likely to occur.
Dilling concluded the workshop by saying that it had been very helpful to the Carbon Cycle Working Group. Houghton asked that the specific suggestions be forwarded to the agencies, with additional detail.