Prediction in the Earth sciences and environmental policy making


  • Roger A. Pielke Jr.,

    1. Environmental and Societal Impacts Group, National Center for Atmospheric Research, PO Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307 USA
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  • Daniel Sarewitz,

  • Radford Byerly Jr.,

  • Dale Jamieson


The Earth sciences, backed by formidable arrays of data gathering and processing technologies, today offer the apparently credible promise of predicting the future of nature. Policy makers, under pressure as always to deliver public benefit at low cost, have strong incentives to accept this promise as a central response to environmental issues.

As environmental problems become more pressing and budgets for research become tighter, the importance of effective prioritization and allocation of research funds and activities will increase, as will the need for timely and effective political decision making. Thus, there is increasing need to enhance the linkages between research in the predictive Earth sciences and the needs of environmental policy makers.