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ESM 203: Earth System Science for Environmental Management

ESM 203: Earth System Science for Environmental Management

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ESM 203: Earth System Science for Environmental Management

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  1. ESM 203: Earth System Science for Environmental Management Tom DunneFall 2006

  2. Lectures on Tuesday & Thursday Try to do reading before lecture Sections on Tuesday & Wednesday Discussion of lectures and readings Problems and questions T.A. Jose Constantine, PhD Candidate. Expertise in Earth System history and Rivers. Grading Homework 25% (groups) Midterm 25% Final 50% Thresholds A/A- 85% B 70% C 50% Course format

  3. Honor Policy • We encourage you to collaborate in learning and problem-solving, including on homework problems. • However, we require that the work submitted be your own. Make the calculations yourself, and write up the answers in your own words. • The examinations will be take-home problems. You must not discuss them (other than a few cuss words) or collaborate with anyone in locating sources or articulating answers to these questions. • We expect you to use the web, even for take-home exams. But you must report the source and nature of your internet use, so that I can check your interpretations. • Your willingness and ability to conduct yourself in this way is an important part of your professional education, and we treat it very seriously.

  4. Availability of Help • Ask questions in class. A favor to classmates • Participate in lab discussions. Practice professional problem-solving roles. • Office hours • Tom: Bren 3510 Tues & Thurs 1-3 pm • Jose: •

  5. The Object of the Course • The course is dedicated to the proposition that there is value to the environmental manager and the citizen in understanding that you live on a planet. • So,it functions like a planet! • It’s planetary functions will affect the way you live and the way you will do business throughout your professional career. • In this course, we want you to practice thinking about managing environmental problems using this insight.

  6. Earth System Science • Earth consists of system components • “Solid” planet • Ocean • Atmosphere • Hydrosphere • Cryosphere • Continental “near surface” (pedosphere and biosphere) • “Technosphere”

  7. The system components interact • Distribution of solar radiation affects the energy balance of Earth (through clouds, snow/ice cover, and regional transfers of latent heat). • Regional balances of precipitation, evaporation, and continental runoff affect the salinity, temperature, and density of ocean water, and therefore are a major driver of ocean circulation. • Distribution of continents and ocean basins affects ocean circulation • Precipitation is a first-order influence on terrestrial productivity, natural and cultivated. • Water is the primary agent mobilizing lithospheric materials and transporting them as soils, sediments, and solutes, which influence the construction, nutrition, and pollution of ecosystems.

  8. Interactions • The components interact in ways and at rates that affect humans (habitability, productivity, hazards) • Atmosphere + lithosphere  landslide hazard • Ocean + atmosphere  El Niño flood/drought • Atmosphere + technosphere  global warming

  9. Interactions (contd.) • The interactions change through time at rates that affect humans • Thus, it is difficult to establish a baseline condition against which to recognize trends • It is difficult to build consensus about which changes are “significant”, “negative”, etc.

  10. Interactions (contd.) • Humans (technosphere) are so widespread, numerous, and intensive users of resources that we now affect the nature and rates of these interactions

  11. Interactions (contd.) • This emerging (post-1970) realization confronts us with two sets of issues • How do these global-scale processes affect us? • Do/can we do anything to adjust to the consequences and/or mitigate our impact? • But we don’t know what our needs or options are until we understand the nature of the systems that we are impacting and adjusting to. • Hence, Earth System Science for Environmental Management

  12. Scales • Consequences of planetary behavior and opportunities for managing/adjusting to them exist at a range of temporal and spatial scales • Natural and social resources at these various scales lie within the responsibilities, knowledge, and interests of different specialists within our societies • These features again make consensus about existence, significance, and timeliness hard to develop • This is where Bren graduates come in

  13. Global scale issues • The course emphasizes the value to the environmental manager of understanding global-scale processes • global climate change • radiation balance of Earth • origin of persistent weather patterns • global tectonics as the setting for landscape types and functioning • spatial and temporal variations in ocean circulation • This is true even for the manager of local and regional problems • flood control • watershed management for water supply and fish production

  14. Local scale issues • Some of the course material is relevant to the analysis of local issues, e.g. • soil and groundwater recharge • energy and water balance of a land surface • You can address problems of this nature using the physical principles we have taught • even if “addressing” means only participating in the debate about what are critical issues and which specialized analysts need to be recruited

  15. Local scale issues (contd.) • Later, elective courses (e.g. Groundwater Hydrology, Watershed Analysis, Snow Hydrology, Fate and Transport …) facilitate more local analyses. • But you should be able to examine issues that appear at first to be only local or regional within the context of the fact that the “globe” changes. • You will also notice that we teach a ‘process-oriented’ approach to the definition of problems and to the search for solutions

  16. Need for Predictions • Technological societies increasingly demand predictions …. or at least explanations …of these complex interactions; e.g. • Will climate changes diminish the Sierra snowpack and require investments in water storage facilities or change water use? • Will the Arctic Ocean ice duration and thickness diminish and open oil/gas exploration and navigation between Siberia and E. Asia in the next 50 yr? • At what rate will soil erosion reduce the water-holding capacity and fertility of soil profiles? Should we do anything about it? • What causes the catastrophic burning of the rain forest, resulting in air pollution and air traffic problems throughout S and SE Asia and widespread subsidence and inundation of agricultural land in S.E. Asia during severe El Niño years? • Is the international insurance industry adequately funded if its exposure to environmental risks is increasing?

  17. Recent example • Source: Environmental Finance Aug 27, 2006 More insurance solutions needed on climateUS insurance companies have made an encouraging start in developing policies to combat climate change, but more effort is needed, according to a US-based investor group.A report released on Tuesday by Ceres, a coalition representing more than 50 institutional investors with a total of $3 trillion under management, has identified 190 innovative products and services that address both the causes, and effects of, climate change."We've seen encouraging progress from big-name insurers and brokers since last year's devastating hurricanes, but many more creative services will be needed as we confront what is perhaps the biggest threat in the industry's history," said Ceres president Mindy Lubber.

  18. Need for Predictions Economist, Kenneth Boulding (1973) “…whereas all experiences are of the past, all decisions are about the future… it is the great task of human knowledge to bridge this gap and find those patterns in the past which can be projected into the future as realistic images …”

  19. Prediction (contd.) • Science has become valued, to various degrees, as a provider of predictions and explanations • Explanations and predictions by scientists are only one component of efforts that humans make to understand what is happening to them, and to adjust to what they sense. [“That’s just the scientists’ point of view!”] • Qualitative and quantitative predictions are most useful when based on an understanding ofmechanism

  20. Increasing detail and exactness To express understanding or to develop predictions, scientists and users of science employ modelsto support decision-making[Everybody has a somewhat different taxonomy] • Conceptual models • Mathematical models • “Process-response” models • Predictive simulation models

  21. Conceptual Environmental Models • Verbal or graphical description of causes and effects that define how environmental processes are expected to respond to changes in controlling variables • Intended to help formulate specific testable questions to be answered through monitoring and research

  22. P E R Soil Storage SM(t) = transient soil-moisture content (vol./area) SM(t) = (t).D, where D = root-zone depth. Gravitational drainage occurs when  > fc,a critical value called “field capacity” Ground water V(t) = volume of groundwater storage resulting from balance between drainage from soil drainage to rivers Outflow to rivers = -dV/dt = kV Example: Conceptual model of Ground water storage and discharge

  23. Conceptual Environmental Models (contd.) • Intended to lead to predictions about the effects of environmental perturbations or proposed management actions. • Used to describe complex system processes to others (scientists, policy makers, the public). • Always evolving. It is the process of thinking about, developing, and revising conceptual models that provides the greatest benefit to the users. • You will use two of these to examine policy implications of changing climate and land use.

  24. Mathematical models“Words are well adapted for description and the arousing of emotion, but for many kinds of precise thought other symbols are much better”J.B.S. Haldane, Geneticist • “Process-response” models • Equations representing associations between variables that can be used to indicate the general expectation of a system to some controlling variable; e.g. • Harte model of global energy balance • Wigley & Jones model of how global change might affect annual streamflow volumes in various regions • You will use both of these models to examine policy implications of global change • Used for early-stage policy formulation, but not final choice of options or design

  25. Mathematical models (contd.) • Predictive simulation models • Contain sequences of equations representing process behavior with enough detail and data support for reliable calculations about the reactions of various parts of a system; e.g. • Groundwater pumping models • Predictions of next year’s ocean temperatures • Models of global and regional climate and (to a lesser extent) impacts. You will examine the evolution and use of these models. • Calculations of how we expect the numbers of salmon surviving each life stage to change with: ocean harvest, annual or seasonal water flow, distribution of channel barriers, etc.

  26. Environmental models are hard to verify or refute (unlike models of controlled systems in lab experiments) • Therefore useful environmental models • are based on a clear conceptual model expressing best current understanding • facilitate communication • express uncertainties • encourage active building of consensus decisions, instead of promoting passive or self-righteous decisions.

  27. Use of Science for Understanding • Science didn’t evolve for the purpose of environmental dispute resolution • Scientific understanding of environmental processes emerges gradually, and sometimes untidily, because the processes are • complex, • involve positive and negative feedbacks, and • evidence of their behavior is obscured by the signatures of other processes

  28. Credibility of Scientific Understanding • The credibility of a scientific idea rises or falls according to its ability to meet repeated challenges proposed by skeptics, including • other scientists, • people and institutions to which particular scientific information is unwelcome, including scientific advisors aligned with such interests

  29. Skepticism is good • “An expert is someone who is aware of the source and magnitude of error in his/her own work” • David Simonett • “A good modeler must be skeptical of his/her own models” • Warren Wiscombe

  30. Facing Uncertainty • Although many natural processes are understood securely by scientists, many others, including many complex environmental processes, are not. • Scientists continue to work to reduce the uncertainty, but the knowledge emerges gradually, or sometimes irregularly • Yet, society has to make decisions on what values to hold or how/whether to take certain courses of action that we call environmental management. • This is true even if we are not “ready” in terms of our knowledge base. • “Society can not wait for scientists to understand the world scientifically” --- Jose Ortega y Gasset • Society entrusts activities that must be conducted in the face of uncertainty (e.g. how to treat disease; whether to trust another nation; how strong to build skyscrapers and bridges; how/whether to treat water supplies to protect health; how much land to sequester for conservation of various biophilic values) …. to a subset of people called professionals.

  31. Professionals are expected to develop a • “… mastery of a domain of practice. Professions are essentially practical performances.”* • This is where we come to you in this course. • You are training to become professional environmental problem solvers * Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 13-18.

  32. Professionalism • Professions consist of individuals who are given a certain amount of prestige and autonomy in return for performing for society a set of services in a disinterested way. • Characteristics of the professions (Bernard Barber): • A high degree of generalized and systematic knowledge • A primary orientation to community interest rather than personal interest • A high degree of self-control of behavior through a code of ethics • A system of monetary and honorary rewards that symbolize achievements of the work itself. Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 13-18.

  33. Professionals make decisions and promote action in the face of • “… the ubiquitous condition of uncertainty, novelty, and unpredictability. While much of professional practice is routine, the essential challenges of professional work center on the need to make complex judgments and decisions leading to skilled actions under conditions of uncertainty. This means that professional practice is frequently pursued at or beyond the margins of previously learned performances. • That circumstance creates two related challenges for professional practice and education: • professionals must be trained to operate at the uncertain limits of their previous experience, and • must also be prepared to learn from the consequences of their actions to develop new understandings and better routines. • They must also develop ways of exchanging those understandings with those of other professionals so the entire professional community benefits from their insight.” Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 13-18.

  34. Professions are characterized by: • A commitment to serve in the interests of clients in particular and the welfare of society in general • A body of theory or specialized knowledge with its own principles of growth and reorganization • A specialized set of professional skills, practices, and performances unique to the profession • The developed capacity to render judgments with integrity under conditions of technical and ethical uncertainty • An organized approach to learning from experience both individually and collectively and thus of growing new knowledge from the contexts of practice • The development of a professional community responsible for the oversight and monitoring of quality in both practice and professional education. Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, p.13-18.

  35. “The primary feature of any profession --- the commitment to serve responsibly, selflessly, and wisely --- sets the terms of the compact between the profession and the society. The centrality of this commitment defines the inherently ethical relationship between the professional and the general society. It also sets up the essential tension between the two poles of professional responsibility: the duty to serve the interests of one’s immediate client and the obligation one has to the society at large.” Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 13-18.

  36. “… learning to practice as a member of a professional community, charged with responsibility for establishing and renewing standards for both practice and professional education, for critically reviewing claims for new ideas and techniques and disseminating the worthy ones widely within the community of practice, and for generally overseeing the quality of performances at all stages of the career.” Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, 13-18.

  37. “… the importance of the professions in America and elsewhere; to their perennial fragility, particularly in the face of powerful and relatively uncontested forces; and to the need both for excellent and ethical training during formation and for strong educational and institutional support throughout one’s professional life.” Gardner, H. and L. S. Schulman, 2005. The professions in America today: crucial but fragile. Daedalus, J. American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Summer, p. 13-18.

  38. Participation in decision-making about policy-relevant science The AmericanPeople and Foreign Policy (1950) and F. Ayala, Amer. Scientist (2004) Make and execute political decisions Govt Offics: exec., legislat., judicial Experts who provide policy makers with scientific and technical analyses of opportunities and consequences Policy advisors Create new technical knowledge, incl. inventions, technologies, understanding of complex natural and social systems, long-term perspectives and linkages Scientists, engineers, technicians: the technical expertise of the body politic. Create and transmit technical understanding Run the productive and service sectors of the economy to supply society’s desires for materials, services, incl. environmental quality Scientifically literate labor force in the productive sector of the economy General public Not trained specifically for technical activities. Practical politics and democratic rights require that they understand the issues sufficiently to appreciate and support the activities above.

  39. Time scales of “engagement” • Time scales of interest in, or appreciation of, emerging environmental problems differ with the backgrounds and competing preoccupations of various communities • Time scales for decisions are often rather short • Scientists tend to have the luxury to consider a problem for years • State Department officials (for example) get a few months to focus on important environmental problems. Gaining their (or their supervisor’s) attention is an important skill.

  40. Nature of problems/opportunities in environmental management

  41. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, can be … • Specialized work in resource analysis and management (water, marine resources, etc.) • Articulating an understanding of environmental processes while working in leadership positions • Making decisions in the light of an understanding of environmental processes ‘Up-pyramid’

  42. Last word • You will be responsible for environmental problem solving in an uncertain, often unwilling, world • Do it thoroughly, and do it well