Bridging the “Science-Policy Disconnect” to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Systems
The text is too long for one e-mail so I am sending it in 2 sections. The following is the 1st section-
Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on the Mediterranean Coastal Environment, MEDCOAST 03, E. Özhan (Editor), 7-11 October 2003, Ravenna, Italy
Bridging the “Science-Policy Disconnect” to Mitigate the Effects of Climate Change on Coastal Systems
Christopher F. D’Elia and Paul M. Bray
Center for Policy Research, University at Albany, State University of New York, Albany, New York, 12222. USA. Tel: +1-518-437-3791 Fax: +1-518-442-4767
Abstract Predicting the rate of climate change is a daunting scientific challenge. An equally daunting challenge is for scientists to communicate effectively and clearly to nonscientists about the risks climate change poses to ecological systems and human institutions and best options for policy makers to take. Those who determine and implement public policy, consumed with the difficult contemporary issues, have little patience when presented with qualified scientific statements of probability and uncertainty on complex, highly technical matters of a future decade or century. They are even less receptive if there is great potential expense foreseen for the taxpayer. Accordingly, even under the best of circumstances, scientists, policymakers and those who implement policy have difficulty establishing a common understanding on issues of obvious and immediate concern. How then, can we expect consensus when the effects we wish to mitigate are more distant and uncertain, as in the case of climate impacts in deltas and other coastal areas? To help understand the role of uncertainty and scientific advice in the formation and acceptance of expert judgment, this paper considers a five level model can be used to consider the continuum from fundamental scientific observation through a stage where judgment leads to appropriate policy responses. We consider in that context several case studies: Houston, TX, Mississippi Delta, LA, Blackwater Wildlife Reserve, MD, all of the USA, and the Nile Delta, Egypt. These examples exhibit present-day effects of environmental change on coastal systems. They suggest that clearer and more comprehensible scientific input will be helpful to those charged with environmental policymaking and management, but that doing so will not guarantee receptivity. The examples also show that when scientific input is equivocal, not sought, poorly implemented or ignored, serious consequences may develop. In contrast, the enduring example of the New York State’s Adirondack Park (USA), which includes a constitutionally protected “forever wild” forest preserve in 1894, demonstrates that when substantial and long term scientific and technical information is conveyed effectively and persistently to managers, a much better prospective result may be obtained, particularly if the information resonates with economic interests. To mitigate the consequences of climate change on coastal systems, we suggest that rather than focus on uncertain effects in the distant future, policy makers first focus on identifying and abating present human practices that can be expected to exacerbate sea-level rise over the near term. Our case studies illustrate the inherent dangers in: (1) withdrawing groundwater and oil that accelerate subsidence; (2) channelizing deltas and marshes so that renourishing sediments bypass the delta and flush directly into the sea; (3) upsetting the ecological balance that in turn destabilizes marsh substratum and increases erosion rates; and (4) damming rivers so that sediments never reach the delta and natural pulses in flow are eliminated. We conclude that practices like these, if left to continue, will only exacerbate the effects of sea level rise.
Introduction Global change is now, and always has been, a reality of nature. Many coastal formations such as river deltas that we know so well today are relatively recent geological features attributable to sea level fluctuation due to climate change in the Holocene (e.g. Day et al., 1997). However, in the time since humans first discovered how to use and exploit fossil fuels, a new dimension has been added to the reality of global change: the anthropogenic emission of greenhouse gases. An overwhelming scientific consensus is now building that the rate of global change has been greatly accelerated by greenhouse gases of human origin. In short, further human-enhanced global warming seems inevitable. There is serious concern – and real prospect – that not only the rate of climate change, but its magnitude, will have severe unanticipated environmental and societal effects. However, because different simulation models produce vastly different results, many questions remain about the magnitude and global distribution of sea level rise (Church, 2001). Even in the U.S., where the flagrant overuse of fossil fuels that contributes to global warming has been coddled and nurtured by political and economic forces unwilling to make economically difficult or unpopular choices, there is now a growing realization of the enormity of the problem. Among the more vulnerable areas to accelerated climate change are the world’s coastal areas. Estuaries, salt marshes, low-lying coastal lands, coastal deltas and other shoreline areas seem especially prone to sea level rise brought about by the effects of global warming on the melting of ice caps and the thermal expansion of seawater. One must always bear in mind is that slope is critical, i.e., a given rise in mean sea level will have greater effect when the slope of the shore is gradual; hence effects will be magnified under such conditions. Accordingly, the most vulnerable areas are those in deltas and coastal plains, characterized by a shallow angle of repose. Governments around the globe are now considering appropriate responses to a rate of eustatic sea level rise that is projected to average or exceed 4 mm y-1 (Titus and Narayanan, 1995), a rate that is almost unprecedented in recent geological history. The question arises, what are the institutional responses to accelerated sea level rise, and when should they be undertaken? After all, it is difficult to respond effectively to lingering environmental problems, of known dimension, that have been with us for years. How can we hope to develop effective means to combat abstract problems foreseen in an uncertain span of time? This paper addresses those questions and considers the science-policy interface in the context of coastal change and emphasizes the institutional dilemma of developing effective policy when presented with speculative or highly uncertain future scenarios in the face of expert disagreement (Stewart, 1991). We draw on well known examples of coastal areas already affected by the threat of eustatic sea level rise. Although we offer no simple solutions to these challenges, we do offer some insight as to how to approach them. This paper also pays particular attention to the history and establishment of the Adirondack Park in New York State. The Park is a remarkable example of how a variety of forces coalesced to establish far-sighted environmental protections. It is also a prime example of the effect of well-founded management practices on water and sediment controls in a watershed. In addition, it demonstrates that the science-policy disconnect can be bridged: scientific information has been understood and incorporated by politicians and other policymakers charged with the stewardship of the incredible natural resource. Experts, judgment and uncertainty Stewart (1991) has proposed that for expert, scientific judgment regarding global warming, that information and intermediate judgments can be organized into a 5-level judgment hierarchy. ¨ Level 1 comprises objective data and facts on which judgments are based and consensus is formed. ¨ Level 2 consists of a grouping of studies and results, such as in review papers that organize and subsume level 1 data and facts into systematic aggregations. Scientists may disagree about the groupings used or about where the weight of evidence within a particular grouping falls, but these are generally less controversial than at higher levels. ¨ Level 3 incorporates interpretation such as the detection of global warming in the climate record or the results of global climate models. Inasmuch as subjectivity and additional error can be introduced, significant disagreement often occurs at this level. ¨ Level 4 develops broad conclusions based on the evidence from lower levels transcending disciplines, often moving from natural to social sciences, such as predictions of the social and economic impacts of global climate change. As such, it is the highest level of expert judgment and can be highly controversial. ¨ Level 5 comprises policy recommendations developed from the broad conclusions at lower levels. These are not strict scientific judgments but instead involve questions predicated on value-based judgments concerning the costs and benefits of various actions and the possible outcomes resulting from them. Given that it transcends the boundary between expert and political judgment, this level typically is most controversial. Making level 5 judgments is not the primary obligation of scientists, who as Stewart (1991) notes are most comfortable at levels 1-3, but is rather in the realm of policymaking and politics. Nonetheless, in our view, such judgments often do require the active participation and advice of scientific experts or interpreters, for the nuances of the technical information at hand is often overwhelming to the nonscientists involved. As difficult as level 5 decisions are, they represent the apex of the policy development continuum and hence justify the scientific studies that underpin them. Accordingly, they cannot be discounted as unimportant or irrelevant by scientists. Responsible policymakers will seek out scientists willing to aide them as they cope with these difficult decisions. In Stewart’s words, “Policymakers must operate at the higher levels of the hierarchy. If scientists refuse to venture there, then policymakers will be forced to draw their own conclusions” (Stewart, 1991, p. 572). Uncertainty tends to increase with time projected into the future, can complicate consensus at every level and lead to substantial controversy among experts (Stewart, 1991). Even the best and most objective scientists dealing with multidisciplinary issues such as global change can arrive at different conclusions in the face of scientific complexity and uncertainty (Mumpower and Stewart, 1996). Policymakers and politicians faced with complex issues of science and technology, in turn, are confused when experts disagree, and not surprisingly under such conditions, these public officials tend to rely instead on their own political instincts and objectives rather than seek further advice from experts. Few have the time or patience to involve themselves in the intricacies of debate and thereby make truly informed opinions. We might term this “the science/policy disconnect,” but it has also been termed an “impedance mismatch between environmental science and management” (National Research Council, 1995). While scientists are generally not comfortable in the political arena and find political “compromise” distasteful and rarely want to endorse completely any single hypothesis, on their part, public officials are unlikely to commit to solving uncertain, controversial problems in distant future or when return on investment is not realized quickly. This unfortunate clash between science and politics can paralyze the decision-making process, or worse, lead to the development of ineffective and costly policy. Inevitably, uncertainty and expert disagreement play into the hands of vested interests that hide behind doubts and dissention created. In addition, “concentrated interests,” such as those opposed to taking action to avert public action to reduce or mitigate anthropogenic emissions, almost always overcome “diffused ones,” such as those concerned with the collective good (Stone, 2002). Major challenges for managing in face of uncertainty What then, are the major challenges to surmount when managing in the face of great uncertainty, such as when attempting to mitigate the projected effects of global warming on climate change? In our opinion, the first and most critical challenge is not to make a bad situation even worse. Many present coastal uses and management approaches increase vulnerability to climate-change effects, such as sea level rise. Although it is possible to modify estuarine circulation to promote sediment deposition and accretion, such as by constructing dikes to reduce flow or divert water over marshes (e.g. Ibañez et al., 1995), many scientists and managers regard such actions as stopgap or last resort. If we are to be effective, we must anticipate situations that will exacerbate the problem of sea level rise before they occur. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is already too late, and in such cases, the objective instead will be to accommodate inexorable change. The question arises, then, can we instead find ways to reduce such vulnerability in the future? Among the ways to increase vulnerability to sea level rise, we know several from human experience with a high degree of certainty: (1) withdrawing groundwater and oil that accelerate subsidence; (2) channelizing deltas and marshes so that renourishing sediments bypass the delta and flush directly into the sea; (3) upsetting ecological balance that in turn destabilizes the substratum and increases erosion rates; and (4) damming rivers so that sediments never reach the delta and eliminating natural pulses in flow. As a first principle, we suggest that planning for sea level rise must consider and address these risks. Examples & Case Studies Several well known examples come to mind of coastal areas that have been or are susceptible to inundation by rising seas that are worth brief consideration in respect to the interaction between scientific experts and policymaking; these examples illustrate clearly the four proven ways to increase susceptibility mentioned above. We shall consider each of them briefly in this context. Mississippi Delta The Mississippi River is the largest U.S. river in terms of both flow (1.45.109 m3.day-1) and drainage basin (41% of the continental U.S.) (Turner and Gosselink, 1975). Its delta and neighboring Louisiana coastline constitute nearly one-half of U.S. coastal wetlands. However, natural and anthropogenic forces are now consuming these wetlands at a rate of over 100-120 square kilometers per year, causing an alarming rate of habitat loss and a mean shoreline erosion rate of 10 m. year-1 and accounting for a staggering 80% of U.S. wetland losses (Johnston et al. 1995; Turner 1997). Among the many human forces considered responsible for this are channelization and diversion control that have reduced “delta switching” – a phenomenon that rebuilds the delta, and withdrawal of gas and oil accelerates subsidence (Roberts, 1997). Turner (1997) examined four hypotheses to explain wetland loss and concluded that effects of changes in wetland hydrology from dredging human-made channels and forming dredged spoil banks was were the best in explaining these dramatic losses. Although others disagree that the canals are the sole cause of wetland loss and argue that the exclusion of Mississippi sediments, freshwater and nutrients from the coastal zone is a critical factor, there is no doubt that human interference with fluvial inputs is a crucial consideration with regard to wetland loss (Day et al. 2000). Uncertainty and scientific disagreement are both factors in this case as well, thus a consensus on management actions necessary to rectify this situation is still not close at hand. However, the communication between policy makers and the scientific community is well established and ongoing, and restoring flows and reducing channelization and diversions are clearly important considerations. Whether the governmental resolve to address this difficult issue is there or not is still to be determined, and whether the situation is already too advanced to be reversed is a very open question. Nile Delta The Nile Delta represents perhaps one of the most perplexing of all coast problems as it is exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise. The Nile Delta, comprising the small verdant fraction of a country that is mostly a desert, has been inhabited and intensely cultivated for millennia. The Delta is now burdened by an extremely dense population of up to 1,600 inhabitants km2. The agricultural productivity has traditionally been sustained by the deposition of fresh, nutrient-rich sediments during annual floods during periods of high river flow. These sediments also serve to provide vertical accretion that counteracts geologic compaction. Moreover, most of the coastal area is less than 2 m above sea-level and would be inundated by the Mediterranean were it not protected by a narrow band of coastal sand (United Nations Environment Programme, 2002). The construction of the Aswan High Dam in the 1960s was undertaken with substantial foreign and technical aid from the Soviet Union. There were several goals in at the outset: to provide vast quantities of hydroelectric power, to aid agriculture by adding an extra crop per year by eliminating annual flooding during high flow period, and to create the world’s largest man-made lake, Lake Nasser, that offers new fishery resources and water for irrigation. These goals have largely been achieved, but not without attendant costs, some of which are seen now, but others will not be fully apparent for another generation. According to Rozengurt (2003), these costs include: (1) much lower transport of nutrients to Mediterranean that is believed to have reduced fisheries – total fish landings have decreased from about 120,000 MT to >4,000 MT; (2) water withdrawals during the summer have eliminated annual variations in runoff – now water quality and salt build up have occurred because of the loss of annual flushing; (3) much reduced silt deposition along the Delta from an average of approximately 125 .106 MT before the dam became operational – nutrients for agriculture now must be provided by commercial fertilizers and the annual deposition of sediments that used to sustain the coastal perimeter are now absent, thus indirectly enhancing the rate of coastal erosion; and (5) sediments previously destined for the coast or delta are now retained behind the dam – this will inevitably jeopardize the capacity of Lake Nasser as a reservoir. This would be compounded further if climate changes further reduce precipitation and the Nile discharge. There are few places in the world in danger of such devastating land loss to sea level rise and erosion in the next century. Present rates of land loss to erosion are already monumental: land around Rosetta has been disappearing at the rate of 148 m y-1, while erosion generally averages 100 m y-1. The human impact of this land loss will be tragic, for there are few options for relocation of those displaced. Prospects are not encouraging; even a relatively modest projected MSL rise of 0.5 m causes substantial loss of land. Many estimates suggest that MSL rise will greatly exceed that found elsewhere in the world with even more serious effects to be expected (United Nations Environment Programme, 2002). The question is, even knowing that there is a high probability of enormous loss of habitable and arable land due to long term coastal erosion that was accelerated by this project, would it have been done differently knowing when the project was conceived what we know now? We think not, and unfortunately this is a case were we doubt that scientific interaction with level-five decision makers would have made much of a difference. The science-policy disconnect was too strong when this project was first conceived and initiated, and even now the immediate economic benefits outweigh future concerns. Houston-Galveston, Texas, USA The Houston-Galveston, Texas, area borders the coastal Gulf of Mexico and has been characterized by extensive subsidence, caused mainly by groundwater pumping, but also by oil and gas extraction (Stork and Sneed, 2002). It provides one of the most dramatic examples of the effect of groundwater withdrawal, although other examples, such as Venice, Italy, are perhaps better known. In certain localities, these withdrawals are responsible for cumulative subsidence of 3 m since 1900. This has increased frequency of flooding; caused extensive damage to industrial and transportation infrastructure; necessitated major investments in levees, reservoirs, and surface water distribution facilities; and caused substantial loss of wetland habitat (Stork and Sneed, 2002). The gravity of the subsidence problem resulted in the 1975 statutory establishment of the “Harris-Galveston Coastal Subsidence District” by the State of Texas, which directed the District to develop immediately a response plan. The 1976 plan has been successful in reducing groundwater pumping rates and reducing subsidence in the coastal lowlands southeast of Houston, although inland areas have still not reduced pumping and subsidence. Unfortunately, relative sea level along the Texas coast continues as a rate of roughly 2 mm y-1 (Titus and Narayanan, 1995), which poses significant prospects of wetland loss in the near future because a substantial area of coastal land is at or near MSL (Titus and Richman, 2001). This case exemplifies how the science-policy disconnect can be bridged effectively. Here, uncertainty and technical disagreement were minimal, and the impact of excessive groundwater withdrawal was clearly agreed upon as the overarching cause of human-induced subsidence. The challenge in the future will be to cope with the uncertain and less predictable course of eustatic sea level rise, which is now the primary contributor to mean sea level rise along the coastline. Blackwater Wildlife Refuge Situated on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, which itself is a “drowned river valley” and thus a result of rising sea level, the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge occupies lowlands (http://ramsar.org/key_sitelist.htm) and was cited by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as key example of “wetland loss.” The wetland ecosystems around the Chesapeake Bay are being eroded at an alarming rate. The Refuge has suffered substantial wetlands losses (>25%) in the last half century alone and of all tidal salt marshes along Chesapeake, the Blackwater has the most wetland area at risk in the State of Maryland. The loss of marshland in the Blackwater Refuge has variously been attributed to several possible causes including eustatic sea level rise; subsidence, possibly accelerated because of groundwater withdrawal; disruption of soil stabilizing plants and their roots by Nutria (non-indigenous rodents imported from South America) that were introduced in the 1930s; and storm erosion. For the Chesapeake Bay as a whole, relative mean sea level (MSL) has been rising at a substantial rate. For Baltimore, which is more than 100 km to the northwest of the Blackwater Refuge, USGS reports a measured MSL rise of 3.1 mm y-1 (Fig. 1). As mean sea level increases, so too will the susceptibility of low elevations to storms, such as the 2003 Hurricane Isabel, during which some of the highest storm water surges ever recorded for this area occurred. Prospects for Blackwater Wildlife Refuge are grim under virtually any scenario, including the maintenance of the status quo without an increase in MSL inasmuch as a very large part of this area is at or near sea level (Titus and Richman, 2001). The effects of groundwater withdrawal are uncertain and heavily debated among environmentalists and scientists. Larsen et al. (2001) of USGS estimate that the current marsh area “can be maintained by judicious expansion of land acquisition into the predicted areas of suitable marsh formation – but for only the next 50 years.” Beyond that time much of this area will become open water. Management alternatives for this situation are not encouraging. Removal of Nutria and amendment of wetlands with dredge spoils from the Chesapeake Bay channel are often mentioned as good prospects to preserve the Blackwater Refuge, and some feel that groundwater withdrawals must be curtailed as well. Acquisition of additional land in areas projected to be suitable for future marsh development seems to be a reasonable alternative as relative sea level continues to increase. While uncertainty and scientific discord certainly exist, there is a growing realization that this may be a situation where few options exist to mitigate or forestall habitat losses. The Adirondack Park The vast Adirondack Park in New York State comprises 2.4 million hectares but does not share a boundary with coastal waters. Sea level rise does not directly threaten a single one of its hectares. However, this park is relevant here for several reasons. First, as a major watershed, it serves as an important source of freshwater for the Hudson River, one of the major rivers in the northeastern US that discharges into the Atlantic Ocean. In the past, extensive logging and deforestation have had a major effect on the delivery of freshwater and sediment to the River, but conservation efforts beginning in the 19th century have seen substantial reforestation and a return to more pristine water and sediment input seasonal patterns. A variety of forces coalesced and resulted in far-sighted environmental protections and as a result, well-founded management practices were developed for the watershed. The Park, as a case study, exemplifies the integration of scientific information into the Stewart (1991) judgment hierarchy discussed above. Several 19th figures emerge in that context. One, George Perkins Marsh, a patrician polyglot and scholarly son of a U.S. Senator who himself served nearly four terms as a Representative in Congress and was latter appointed by President Abraham Lincoln as the first Ambassador to Italy (1861-82). The other, Verplanck Colvin, was a trenchant and rugged outdoorsman who spent thirty years supervising the state survey and trekking through the Adirondack wilderness. Colvin documented and mapped its geographic features, and especially the retreat of forested areas due to the wanton logging efforts of the time. Each of these individuals had enormous scientific insight and technical competence, and each of them possessed special abilities to communicate their knowledge in practical terms to legislators and other influential people who could in turn, take that information to the “5th level of judgment” sensu Stewart (1991). Brief History The preservation of a substantial portion of New York State’s great north woods for purposes of protection of watershed including the State’s rivers of commerce and open space with agricultural, recreational, wilderness and scenic values happened in later half of the 19th century. The events leading up to the establishment of this park provide an example of an interesting saga of the interaction of the scientific and policy making processes at the time of the infancy of both the science of watershed and forestry management and the public policy of conservation. These and other important events germane to the present discussion are listed chronologically in Table 1. The impetus for the establishment of the park can be traced to the exploitation of the resources of the Adirondack Mountains with little regard to their renewability or attendant environmental effects. “Irresponsible logging” including fires that resulted from the brush and branches left on the ground to be tinder threatened the watershed and recreational and wilderness values (Terrie, 1994). A major step in conservation public policy was realized by a policy making process of trial and error during a decade long period from 1885 until 1894. Initially in 1885 public land in the Adirondack region was designated to be protected through State ownership of what was called state forest preserve land. In 1892 a blue line was draw around a substantial area of the region and all public and private lands within the blue line were designated to be the Adirondack Park that today includes 2.4 million hectares. Finally, in 1894 after it became clear that the statutory protection of the forests begun in 1885 was not adequate to prevent logging abuse, a constitutional amendment designated the forest preserve, today slightly less than 50% of the lands within the Park, to became the first constitutionally protected wild forest land in the US (“shall be forever kept as wild forest lands”). This total prohibition of timber cutting in the forest preserve occurred notwithstanding that it “flew in the face of the spirit of the age, which insisted on efficient use of natural resources” (Terrie, 1994, p. 108). In the end, scientists like Harvard’s Charles Sargent and drafters of the constitutional amendment believed that the watershed and forest were too valuable to be left open to the political forces that might compromise scientific forestry practices. Much has changed from the time the Adirondack forest preserve and Park were established. Science and technology has advanced in breathtaking ways allowing, for example, instantaneous transmission of information and exploration of outer space. Yet, in America and Western Europe we continue to be pluralistic societies facing the need to control certain types of human activities with real and dangerous consequences to the environment. In the 19th century it was irresponsible logging; today we have new types of irresponsible behavior in areas of transportation and energy resulting in climate change creating a clear and present threat. In many respects it is “deja vu all over again” when we consider how governments respond to environmental threats. The Adirondack experience teaches us that there is no simple trajectory from science to a public policy shaped by scientific conclusions, but it does show that getting the right information to the right people is a real key to success in the development of environmental policy. It also shows how important “buy in” from diverse, and often opposed “concentrated” interests can be in this process. In the case of the Adirondacks there was science combined with measures of fear (“concern often verging on hysteria” – Terrie, 1994, p. 94) and of love for the mountainous aesthetic that finally resulted in public action when commercial forces joined the cause. Public action was strongly influenced by scientific opinion, but was also politically pragmatic. It bypassed the scientific preference for the scientific planting and harvesting of forests and instead opted for complete preservation. In the decades preceding 1885, there was a developing wilderness aesthetic growing from the romantic’s love of wild scenery and a pantheistic perception of the deity. There was also a developing recreational interest including vocal sportsmen interests for what The New York Times called “a people’s hunting ground” in the Adirondacks. After the Civil War books like Adventures in the Wilderness by the Reverend William H.H. Murray of Boston’s Park Street Church began a tourist rush to the Adirondacks with copies of Murray’s book under their arm. At the same time the Adirondacks were capturing the public’s imagination, a competing use for the Adirondack forests was destroying paradise. The economic pressure to cut forests wholesale for lumber and pulpwood was enormous just as we face pressure today to consume the fossil fuels of coal and oil. Frank Graham, Jr. points the great part wood played in the lives of our forbearers, “The forest was the chief source of building and manufacturing materials, and often of energy” (Graham, 1978, p. 88). The Adirondack solutions of forest preserve and park were driven by “scientific thinking on the deleterious effects of indiscriminate lumbering on the role of mountain forests in regulating watersheds” (Terrie, 1994, p. 81). The science of watershed and forestry management was developing in the second half of the 19th century frequently helped along by popularizers. As one of the earliest exponents of scientific management of natural resources, George Perkins Marsh was himself not a scientist but a popularizer with great observational powers who could put science into context. In 1864, Marsh published his classic book, Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, which dealt heavily with forest and watershed protection. According to Marsh’s biographer, David Lowenthal (2000, p. 305), “Man and Nature became one of the nineteenth century’s two seminal texts on the subject its title denoted .” Marsh’s central theses were that man is a free moral agent working independent of nature, and that Nature, left alone, may not heal itself. Both of these were radical premises at a time when prevailing religious thought considered Nature the dominion of man. One of Marsh’s primary concerns was the effect of indiscriminate lumbering. He was keenly aware that the clear cutting of forests amplified the potential for drought, flood, and erosion in watersheds. He recognized that these could even lead to unfavorable climatic changes, a remarkable insight for the time. But Marsh’s observations extended much beyond the effects of lumbering to existing and proposed human changes in other systems. For example, with regard to a then proposed diversion of the Nile River into the Red Sea, Marsh (1864, p. 448) concluded, “First and most obvious is the total destruction of the fertility of Middle and Lower Egypt” He postulated the potential for larger climatic effects due to the “abstraction of so large and evaporable surface from the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the conversion of that part of the valley into a desert, and the extinction of its imperfect civilization, if not the absolute extirpation of its inhabitants” due to the loss of the annual inundation. Marsh’s ideas mirrored practical experience in the Adirondacks by Verplanck Colvin, who made a career of exploring and surveying the Adirondack lands. Colvin was an early and active advocate for the creation of the Adirondack Park for the multiple purposes of timber preservation, recreation and watershed protection. Colvin, who in 1872 as a young man began annual surveys of the Adirondacks and their resources, made annual reports to the New York State legislature that called attention to the mounting environmental consequences of deforestation, “[The Adirondacks contain] the springs which are the sources of our principal rivers, and the feeders of the canals. Each summer the water supply for these rivers and canals is lessened, and commerce has suffered …” He understood that arguments were best couched in economic terms that business interests could relate to, “We do not favor the creation of an expensive and exclusive park for mere purposes of recreation, but condemning such suggestions, recommend the simple preservation of the timber as a measure of political economy.” Especially important, in our view, was that his regular trips to the State Capital, Albany, to report to officials and lawmakers about his annual findings enabled him to know the key individuals responsible for making policy. It was in doing this that he was able to transcend the 4th and 5th levels of judgment and, in effect, to bridge the science-policy disconnect. Communicating scientific understanding to policy makers in this way is considered to be an important way to help bridge this disconnect (Boesch, et al., 2000) Franklin B. Hough, a country doctor from Lowville, New York who has been called “America’s first native-born scientific forester” advocated for careful management of forests including scientific replanting of forests that had been cut. In the 1880s the drum beat for action on the Adirondacks that Marsh, Hough and others created led to action. The press called for action. The New York Tribune declared: “The matter is reduced to a simple business issue. Is the [Hudson] river worth to the City and State as much as it will cost to save the woods? This is the most important economic question which the coming legislature will be called to answer” (Graham, 1978, p. 97). Commercial interests also joined the debate, and this was critical. President Morris K. Jesup of the state Chamber of Commerce called for the establishment of a great forest preserve to insure abundant water in the Hudson and Erie Canal. He told a meeting of the Chamber, “that forest destruction was already seriously reducing the flow of the state’s most important waterways and that ‘the effects of the diminution of water upon the Hudson is already so great that navigation above Troy is rendered almost impossible in dry seasons'” (Graham, 1978, p. 99). While Jesup was the third President of the American Museum of Natural History and used scientific conclusions in his arguments, it was said of him that “He did not understand any of the details of science – in fact, it was all a sealed book to him-yet he had intense faith in the results” (Graham, 1978, p. 98). The legislature did look to scientific expertise before acting. In 1884, the State Senate appropriated $5,000 to hire a committee of experts to investigate and report on a system for forest preservation. The committee was headed by Charles S. Sargent, Professor of Arboriculture at Harvard College. Early in 1885, the committee filed its report, which was a scathing indictment of the “timber thieves, the lumbermen, and the railroads” that were reducing the Adirondacks “to an unproductive and dangerous desert” (Graham, 1978, p. 104). These events all led to the creation of the Adirondack Park by the New York State legislature in 1892. In 1894, the publicly owned forest land in the Park was protected by a New York State Constitutional Amendment creating the only constitutionally protected wild forest land in the nation. The Adirondack Park is comprised of about one million hectares of state-owned “forever wild” Forest Preserve intermingled with about 1.4 million hectares of privately held land. The private owners range from lumber and pulp companies and 130,000 permanent residents in villages and towns within the Park. It is estimated that this Park without gates has 10 million visitors each year. With an area more than double the size of Yellowstone and Yosemite National Parks combined, the Adirondack Park is the largest park, federal or state, in the lower 48 United States. Key Aspects to Adirondack Park The Adirondack Park is an early and still relatively rare example of prospective policy making that has been able to endure for more than a century. In that respect, the Park sets a standard as a human institution that can implement conservation policy that has successfully incorporated the best scientific knowledge available at the times. The “forever wild” philosophy is at the intellectual core of the enabling legislation of the Park, and it sets a clear standard and ethic for its future preservation. The concept of the Park was remarkably prospective from start, with a strong buy-in from political and economic forces. This occurred because of the remarkable abilities of individuals such as Marsh and Colvin who expended considerable effort and time in reaching those charged with “level 5” judgment responsibilities and who also popularized the science. The active participation in the public process of others with scientific expertise, such as Hough and Sargent, was also an important factor. The Park involves state and local partnerships with considerable public investment. While this creates complexity and has certainly led to difficulty at times, it has nevertheless increased the potential for buy-in from different interests. There has been compromise with commercial and economic interests (tourism, logging) from the start, an unusual feature of most parks that have been carved out of wild areas. Finally – and this is particularly relevant for the management of coastal systems such as deltas – there has always been an explicit understanding that upstream development in the watershed affects downstream regions. Summary A five level model can be used to consider the continuum from fundamental scientific observation through a stage where judgment leads to appropriate policy responses. Public policymaking hates uncertainty and focuses on immediate and pressing issues. Science has much to offer in predicting and understanding climate change effects and how to manage them, but translating science to policy will be particularly difficult: close relationships with policymakers help, and these will most often occur when scientists involve themselves appropriately in the public policy process and make extra efforts to communicate clearly. Scientists, themselves, may find themselves at odds with each other as uncertainty increases, and public officials must learn to recognize this as a normal effect of uncertainty. For the present, focus should be on consequences of climate change that will almost certainly occur and for which policy can be made now. Economic concerns and, increasingly in our environmental age, environmental challenges are and will always be paramount considerations. We must find ways to demonstrate the present value of developing environmental sound policy for the future and engage economic interests in the process. Acknowledgments We thank Curtis Larsen for making available unpublished data and Andrei Lapenis, Jeryl Mumpower, Gary Kleppel and Thomas Stewart for comments and suggestions. Po Delta Park provided us the opportunity to undertake this study. References Boesch, D.F., Burger, J., D’Elia, C.F., Reed, D.J., and Scavia, D. 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(1995), The Ebro Delta, Spain: water and sediment management in the context of relative sea level rise,” Proceedings of the Second International Coastal Environment (MEDCOAST 95), (E. Özhan, Editor), Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, pp. 809-826. Johnston, J. B., Watzin, M. C., Barras, J. A., and Handley, L. R. (1995), “Gulf of Mexico coastal wetlands: case studies of loss trends,” pp. 269?272 in LaRoe, E. T., Farris, G. S., Puckett, C. E., Doran, P. D., and Mac, M. J. (editors). Our living resources: a report to the nation on the distribution, abundance, and health of U.S. plants, animals, and ecosystems. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Service, Washington, D.C. Larsen, C., Guntenspergen, G., Cahoon, D., Desmond, G., and Yanosky, T. (2003), “LIDAR Inundation Model for the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge,” Paper presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Assateaque Shelf and Shore Workshop, Washington, D.C., April 11-12, 2003. Lowenthal, David. (2002), George Perkins Marsh, Prophet of Conservation, University of Washington Press, Seattle. Marsh, George Perkins (1864), Man and Nature; or, Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action, Charles Scribner, New York. Mumpower, Jeryl L. and Stewart, Thomas R. (1996), “Expert Judgement and Expert Disagreement,” Thinking and Reasoning, 2, 191-211. National Research Council. (1995), Science, Policy and the Coast: Improving Decisionmaking, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. Roberts, H.H. (1997), “Dynamic changes of the Holocene Mississippi River Delta Plain: the delta cycle,” Journal of Coastal Research, 13, 605-627. Rozengurt, Michael A. (2003), “Agonizing coastal sea ecosystems: understanding the cause; placing the blame!” Proc. of the Sixth International Conference on the Mediterranean Coastal Environment, MEDCOAST 03, Ravenna, Italy. (Özhan E., Editor), Ankara, Turkey, pp. 941-950. Stewart, T.R. (1991), “Scientists’ uncertainty and disagreement about global climate change: A psychological perspective,” International Journal of Psychology, 26, 565-573. Stone, Deborah A. (2001), “Policy Paradox: The Art of Political Decision Making,” W.W. Norton & Company, New York. Stork, S.V. and Sneed, M. (2002), “Houston-Galveston Bay Area, Texas, From Space-A New Tool for Mapping Land Subsidence,” USGS Fact Sheet 110-02, U.S. Geological Survey, available online at http://water.usgs.gov/pubs/fs/fs-110-02/pdf/FS_110-02.pdf. Terrie, Philip. (1994), “Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks,” Syracuse University Press. Syracuse, New York. Titus, J.G., and Richman, C. (2001), “Modeled Elevations along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts,” Climate Research, 18, 205-228. Titus, J.G., and Narayanan, V.K. (1995), “The probability of sea level rise,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 230-R-95-008. 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Table 1. Chronology of key events leading to the establishment of the Adirondack Park. 1861: Marsh appointed U.S. Ambassador to Italy 1864: Marsh authors Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action 1872: Colvin begins 30-year as supervisor of State survey of Adirondack wilderness 1874: Man and Nature translated – L’Uomo e la Natura – and revised as The Earth as Modified by Human Action 1874: (1874) 1882: Marsh died in Italy 1883: all publicly-owned lands taken off real estate market 1885: 681,000 acres set aside to make up Forest Preserve 1891: Enactment of the U.S. Forest Reserve Act 1892: Park established at size of ca. one million hectares; symbolic only 1893: “Cutting Law” created concerns 1893-1894: rampant fires and drought raised fears that George Marsh’s predictions were true 1894: state constitutional convention agreed to amendment to the New York State Constitution truly protecting Adirondack Park; this protection declared these lands to be “forever wild” and silviculture or tree harvesting was prohibited. 1893: Governor Roswell P. Flower, the same man who signed into law the Adirondack Park, proposed a bill that became known as the “Cutting Law.” The Forest Commission was authorized to sell trees from any part of the Forest Preserve, thus effectively undoing the entire point of the Forest Preserve: to preserve the forest. 1894: Governor Flower was pleased to announce that the state generated a revenue of $53,400 from the sale of timber on 17,500 acres of Preserve. The outrage of this, combined with rampant fires and drought throughout New England in 1893 and 1894 that had everyone deathly afraid that George Marsh’s predictions were about to be proved correct, set the stage for what would happen at the 1894 Constitutional Convention in Albany.
Figure 1. Relative mean sea level trend for Chesapeake Bay – geological trend vs. historical values (relative to present mean sea level, MSL), courtesy of C. Larsen, USGS, U.S Department of the Interior.
© Christopher F. D’Elia