Climate science in the 1970s a focus on models and impact

Researchers concerned with the global climate were in the 1970s continuing their focus on the global carbon cycle and how humans may affect it. Methodologically, the development of computer technology created new ways of getting a picture of what might be in store. Modeling was intimately connected to global networks for data collection that were set up in connection with the International Geophysical Year, illustrating how technology development could feed on the international institutionalization of meteorological networks.105 The first general circulation models of the entire three-dimensional global atmosphere analyzing climate change due to emissions of carbon dioxide were presented in 1973, and in 1974 climate modeller Syukuro Manabe presented model results indicating that a doubling of carbon dioxide levels would lead to a 3-4 degree Celsius rise in global temperature.106 Bert Bolin, who later became the first chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recollected the events in connection with an interview in 1991: "It was a remarkable result that to a large extent is still valid today. There have, of course, been much more detailed calculations but the conclusion is basically the same."107 Edwards point to the central role of climate models and how they have become "an obligatory passage point" for knowledge of climate change.108 For Bolin, the model results created an impetus to become more involved with policy.

101 Litfin, Ozone Discourses.

102 A description of UNEP as a "driving force" appears in Clark, et al. "Acid Rain, Ozone Depletion, and Climate Change: An Historical Overview," 39.

103 AMAP, Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report, 165.

104 AMAP, Arctic Pollution Issues: A State of the Arctic Environment Report, 166.

105 Edwards, "Representing the Global Atmosphere."

106 Aant and Jan Nolin, Climate As Research and Politics. The Case of Sweden (Göteborg: Institutionen för vetenskapsteori, Göteborgs universitet, 1998).

107 Annika Nilsson, Greenhouse Earth (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1992), 205.

108 Bruno Latour's phrase as cited by Edwards, "Representing the Global Atmosphere," 33.

Even when climate science internationally was increasingly looking at the global climate system, a competing emphasis on climate impacts remained in the United States, where Long and Iles have noted a surge in impact assessments in the early 1970s.109 Most of them focused on short-term climate variability rather than long-term climate change. The effects were in relation to various sectors of society, such as agriculture and the social and economic impacts. By the late 1970s, impacts were increasingly defined in terms of first order impact, which included the physical parameters related directly to climate and second order impact that included effects on ecological systems, agricultural productivity, and property loss. According to Long and Iles, this led to a distribution of different research tasks to different disciplines and a carving out of specific issues in order to facilitate research. Also introduced was a concept of "net impacts, which would take both positive and adverse effects into account."110

According to Weart, the growth in climate research slowed in the 1970s in spite of growing public and scientific interests. But at the international level under the auspices of the WMO, there remained an interest in taking on the issues. And in 1978, the scientists' demand for action led to an international workshop on climate issues under the auspices of the WMO and ICSU, which in turn led to the First International Climate Conference in 1979. To prepare for the workshop, a series of review papers were commissioned to assess the state of climate science. Participation in the conference was by invitation and included mostly scientists and government officials. The consensus reached was hardly news and included a statement that there was a clear possibility that an increase in carbon dioxide may result in significant and possibly major long-term changes of the global-scale climate.111 A more substantial outcome was that the WMO, ICSU, and UNEP launched the World Climate Programme.112 This program also included a branch specifically devoted to climate research: the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), which took over tasks previously held by the GARP.

Another result was a series of workshops under the auspices of the WMO, ICSU, and UNEP to better understand the climate problem. They were held in Villach, Austria.113 The first one, held in 1980, had the task of providing a carefully prepared scientific assessment of the carbon dioxide question to provide guidance to the World Climate Program and advice to nations.114 Two things are important about this description of the purpose. One is that the issue is framed in terms of carbon dioxide, in contrast to climate variability as framed in the earlier US climate impact assessments. The second is the clear purpose of providing advice to nations, a political imperative that later emerged as central in much of climate change science. However, the conclusion from the meeting was that it was premature to have any management plans for carbon dioxide. Instead, the sponsoring organizations agreed to conduct another assessment, due in 1985. In the meantime, in 1983, there was a meeting bringing together climate scientists

109 Long and Iles, Assessing Climate Change Impacts, 5.

110 Long and Iles, Assessing Climate Change Impacts, 7.

111 Weart, "The Discovery of Global Warming," International-9.

112 Agrawala, "Context and Early Origin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change," 607.

113 Wendy E. Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change: Connecting Science to Policy Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, 1997), 7.

114 Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change, 8.

and biologists focused on the impact of climate, but again with no clear conclusions.115 In 1985, the assessment was done and passed on to the conference and the situation changed. UNEP's secretary general was obviously informed of its findings and made a forceful statement at the beginning of the conference. A key player in the assessment process was Bolin, then head of the International Meteorological Institute at Stockholm University, where UNEP had funded research.116 He has recollected the 1985 meeting as follows: "Tolba's introductory statement at the Villach meeting was very forceful. So forceful that I myself got cold feet. Was it right to run off like this? Do we know enough to back up all of Tolba's statement?" adding that they did not know enough to back it up at the time.117 Nevertheless, at the conference the chair detailed the task at hand; it was to develop a consensus statement and recommendations for actions.118 The message that came out made a clear connection between the scientific understanding of climate change and the need for policy action: "As a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases, it is now believed that in the first half of the next century a rise of global mean temperature could occur which is greater than in man 's history."119 The recommendations included consideration of a global convention.

Scientifically, a new concern brought forth by the report presented at Villach in 1985 was the inclusion of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide. Also, the report combined input from scientists concerned with the carbon cycle and global climate along with those interested in impacts. Many authors have thus pointed to Villach 1985 as a seminal event in climate science and policy development. However, after a close reading of the various reports, Franz has argued that the difference lay not in the science but in timing - the time was ripe for policy action.120 Franz attributes this change to the absence of domestic political restraints and that the international institutional setting created a leeway for policy conclusions that had not been there before. People attended the conference in their personal capacities and were urged to shed any national perspectives. Moreover, the sponsoring organizations wanted a call for policy action and were ready for it in a way that they had not been in 1980.121 This conclusion is supported by an analysis of four European case studies of the international shaping of climate research, where Nolin states that before 1988, national research in many countries had a better chance of influencing international policy than domestic policy.122 As an agency under the United Nations, UNEP provided the perfect platform. Other factors were at play as well, not least was the recent successful negotiation of the Vienna Convention

115 Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change, 8.

116 Interview with Bolin in 1991 in Nilsson, Greenhouse Earth, 206; Agrawala, "Context and Early Origin of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change"; Elzinga and Nolin, Climate As Research and Politics. The Case of Sweden.

117 Interview with Bolin in Nilsson, Greenhouse Earth, 206.

118 Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change.

119 Statement by the UNEP/WMO/ICSU International Conference on "The Assessment of the Role of Carbon Dioxide and of Other Greenhouse Gases in Climate Variation and Associated Impacts, Villach Austria, 9-15 October 1985" in Bert Bolin, Bo Döös, Jill Jäger, and Richard A. Warrik, eds. The

Greenhouse Effect. Climate Change and Ecosystems (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 1986), xx.

120 Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change, 11.

121 Franz, The Development of an International Agenda for Climate Change, 14-16.

122 Jan Nolin, "Global Policy and National Research. The International Shaping of Climate Research in Four European Union Countries," Minerva 37, (1999): 125.

for Protection of the Ozone Layer. This was one of several international agreements related to environmental issues that were on the political agenda. Others related to acid rain, undersea mining, and fisheries.123 There was thus a general development of using international regimes as a tool for dealing with environmental problems, which made it natural to also discuss climate change in those terms.

Bodansky describes the initial agenda-setting phase of climate policy action as being steered by a small group of western-oriented scientists who operated as entrepreneurs and knowledge brokers on the greenhouse effect through journals and personal contacts with policy makers.124 From Franz's analysis, it appears that although the small group of entrepreneurs could serve as knowledge brokers, their influence was also due to the fact that international organizations were in place to sponsor meetings and push for strong statements. The new player in the field was UNEP, which had recently created a role for itself in the scientific assessments and political action concerning the thinning ozone layer. Franz describes it as UNEP having "[f]ound a niche as a broker of conventions."125 Here was a new place in the politics of the atmosphere where it could potentially take on a leading role.

The formal result of the 1985 Villach meeting was the creation of the Advisory Group of Greenhouse Gases. This group met and adopted a work plan to further the dialogue between science and policy but its role was not long-lasting, partly because its connections to policy makers were very weak.126 Even if the scientific credibility was high among its members, one could describe it as lacking the political legitimacy that is crucial for having an impact according to later studies of global scientific assess-ments.127 Here it appears that it was not so much the structures of international cooperation that were at play, but rather that the cooperation included the creation of an organization that took a very active role, and that it acted partly independently from the parties of the intergovernmental cooperation.128 The message from Villach spread. For example, it became integrated in the 1987 Brundtland Commission report Our Common Fu-

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