Advertisement

Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Assessing integrated assessments

Abstract

Integrated assessment of global environmental change is a relatively new field that is beginning to define itself and its forms of practice. As yet, the field has not grappled directly with issues of quality control and assessment of quality, and this work is a first attempt in that direction. We argue that if integrated assessment is to be successful in the long run, then building and maintaining credibility via quality control procedures is a necessary condition for realizing its potential. We highlight a number of pitfalls in the practice of integrated assessment, and discuss their causes. We buttress our concerns using examples from both within climate change integrated assessment, and from the history of other similar endeavors. We also provide a number of suggestions that we hope will serve to alleviate some of these pitfalls. For instance, tools, methods, and assumptions from disciplines form archetypes for components in integrated assessment models, and we need to apply greater scrutiny to these archetypes. Further, tools which may be reasonable to use in particular disciplinary, geographical, or temporal contexts may be unsuited to the broader contexts inherent in integrated assessment studies of global environmental change.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Arrow, K., Bolin, B., Costanza, R., Dasgupta, P., Folke, C., Holling, C., Jansson, B.-O., Levin, S., Maler, K.-G., Perrings, C., and Pimentel, D.: 1995, ‘Economic Growth, Carrying Capacity, and the Environment’, Science 268, 520–521.

  2. Ascher, W.: 1981, ‘The Forecasting Potential of Complex Models’, Policy Sciences 13, 247–267.

  3. Ashley, R. K.: 1983, ‘The Eye of Power: The Politics of World Modeling’, International Organization 37(3), 495–535.

  4. Ayres, R.: 1984, ‘Limits and Possibilities of Large-Scale Long-Range Societal Models’, Technological Forecasting and Social Change 25, 297–308.

  5. Ayres, R.: 1993, ‘Cowboys, Cornucopians, and Long-Run Sustainability’, Ecological Economics 8, 189–207.

  6. Brunner, R. D.: 1996, ‘Policy and Global Change Research: A Modest Proposal’, Clim. Change 32, 121–147.

  7. Cebon, P., Dahinden, U., Davies, H., Imboden, D., and Jaeger, C. (eds.): 1996, A View from the Alps: Regional Perspectives on Climate Change, MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Forthcoming.

  8. Chaubin, D., Porter, A., Rossini, and Connolly, T.: 1986, Interdisciplinary Analysis and Research, Mt. Airy, MD, Lomond Publications.

  9. Clark, W. C. and Majone, G.: 1985, ‘The Critical Appraisal of Scientific Inquiries with Policy Implications’, Science, Technology, and Human Values 10(3), 6–19.

  10. Cohen, S. J.: 1995, ‘An Interdisciplinary Assessment of Climate Change on Northern Ecosystems: The Mackenzie Basin Impact Study’, in Peterson, D. L. and Johnson, D. R. (eds.), Human Ecology and Climate Change - People and Resources in the Far North, Taylor and Francis, Washington, pp. 301–316.

  11. Dowlatabadi, H.: 1995, ‘Integrated Assessment Models of Climate Change: An Incomplete Overview’, Energy Policy 23(4/5), 289–296.

  12. Fischhoff, B.: 1991, ‘Value Elicitation: Is There Anything in There?’, American Psychologist 46, 835–847.

  13. Fischhoff, B., Watson, S., and Hope, C.: 1990, ‘Defining risk’, in Glickman, T. and Gough, M. (eds.), Readings in Risk, Resources for the Future, Washington D.C., pp. 30–42.

  14. Forrester, J. W.: 1971, World Dynamics, Wright-Allen Press, Cambridge, Mass.

  15. Funtowicz, S. and Ravetz, J.: 1994, ‘The Worth of a Songbird: Ecological Economics as a Post-Normal Science’, Ecological Economics 10, 197–207.

  16. Graham, J. and Vaupel, J.: 1980, ‘The Value of Life: What Difference Does it Make?’, Risk Analysis 1(1), 89–95.

  17. Grubb, M.: 1996, ‘Economic and Environmental Choices in the Stabilization of Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations: A Critical Review’, Energy Policy, submitted.

  18. Henrion, M. and Fischhoff, B.: 1986, ‘Assessing the Uncertainty in Physical Constants’, Am. J. Phys. 54(9), 791–798.

  19. Horgan, J.: 1995, ‘From Complexity to Perplexity’, Scientific American 272(6), 104–110.

  20. Janssen, M. and Rotmans, J.: 1995, ‘Allocation of Fossil CO2 Emission Rights: Quantifying Cultural Perspectives’, Ecological Economics 13, 65–79.

  21. Kandlikar, M. and Morgan, M. G.: 1995, ‘Addressing the Human Dimensions of Global Change: A Multi-Actor, Multiple Metric Approach’, Human Dimensions Quarterly 1(3), 13–16.

  22. Klein, J.: 1990, Interdisciplinarity: History, Theory, and Practice, Wayne State University Press, Detroit, 331 pp.

  23. Land, K. and Schneider, S.: 1987, ‘Forecasting in the Social and Natural Sciences: An Overview and Analysis of Isomorphisms’, Clim. Change 11, 7–31.

  24. Lave, L. and Dowlatabadi, H.: 1993, ‘Climate Change Policy: The Effects of Personal Beliefs and Scientific Uncertainty’, Environmental Science and Technology 27(10), 1962–1972.

  25. Lichtenstein, S., Fischhoff, B., and Phillips, L.: 1982, ‘Calibration of Probabilities’, in Kahnemann, D., Slovic, P., and Tversky, A. (eds.), Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, Cambridge U.K., Cambridge University Press.

  26. Masood, E. and Ochtert, A.: 1995, ‘UN Climate Change Report Turns up the Heat’, Nature 378, 119.

  27. Masood, E.: 1995, ‘Temperature Rises in Dispute over Costing Climate Change’, Nature 378, 429.

  28. Meyer, A. et al.: 1995, ‘Economics of Climate Change’, Nature 378, 433.

  29. Morgan, M. G., Kandlikar, M., Risbey, J., and Dowlatabadi, H.: 1996, ‘Why Conventional Tools for Policy Analysis are Often Inadequate for Problems of Global Change’, Env. Sci. & Tech., submitted.

  30. Morgan, M. G. and Dowlatabadi, H.: 1996, ‘Learning from Integrated Assessment’, Clim. Change 34, 337–368 (this issue).

  31. Morgan, M. G.: 1993, ‘Risk Analysis and Management’, Scientific American 269(1), 32–41.

  32. Morgan, M. G. and Henrion, M.: 1990, Uncertainty: A Guide to Dealing With Uncertainty in Quantitative Risk and Policy Analysis, New York, Cambridge University Press, 332 pp.

  33. Nordhaus, W. D.: 1991, ‘To Slow or Not to Slow: The Economics of the Greenhouse Effect’, Econ. J. 101, 920–937.

  34. Oreskes, N., Shrader-Frechette, K., and Belitz, K.: 1994, ‘Verification, Validation, and Confirmation on Numerical Models in the Earth Sciences’, Science 263, 641–646.

  35. O'Riordan, T.: 1995, ‘Frameworks for Choice: Core Beliefs and the Environment’, in Environment 37(8), 4–9; 25–29.

  36. Parson, E.: 1995, ‘Integrated Assessment and Environmental Policy Making: In Pursuit of Usefulness’, Energy Policy 23(4/5), 463–476.

  37. Pearce, D., Cline, W., Achanta, A., Fankhauser, S., Pachauri, R., Tol, R., and Vellinga, P.: 1996, ‘The Social Costs of Climate Change: Greenhouse Damage and the Benefits of Control’, in Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 448 pp.

  38. Ravetz, J.: 1971, Scientific Knowledge and its Social Problems, Clarendon Press, Oxford, U.K., 449 pp.

  39. Root, T. and Schneider, S.: 1995, ‘Ecology and Climate: Research Strategies and Implications’, Science 269, 334–341.

  40. Rotmans, J., Dowlatabadi, H., and Parson, E.: 1996, ‘Integrated Assessment of Climate Change: Evaluation of Methods and Strategies’, in Human Choice and Climate Change: A State-of-the-Art Report, in press.

  41. Rotmans, J. et al.: 1994, ‘Global Change and Sustainable Development: A Modelling Perspective for the Next Decade’, GLOBO Report Series No. 4, RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 71 pp.

  42. Schwartz, M. and Thompson, M.: 1990, Divided We Stand: Redefining Politics, Technology and Social Choice, New York, Harvester Wheatsheaf.

  43. Shackley, S., Risley, J., Stone, P., and Wynne, B.: 1996, ‘Adjustment to Policy Expectations in Climate Change Modelling: An Interdisciplinary Study of Flux Adjustments’ in Coupled Atmosphere/Ocean General Circulation Models, Climatic Change, submitted.

  44. Shackley, S. and Wynne, B.: 1995, ‘Integrating Knowledges for Climate Change; Pyramids, Nets and Uncertainties’, Global Environmental Change 5(2), 113–126.

  45. Sigmund, K.: 1995, ‘Echoes of Chaos’, Nature 378, 453.

  46. Thompson, M., Ellis, R. and Wildawsky, A.: 1990, Cultural Theory, Boulder, CO, Westview Press.

  47. Turner, B., Clark, W., Kates, R., Richards, J., Matthews, J., and Meyer, W.: 1990, The Earth as Transformed by Human Action, Cambridge, U.K., Cambridge University Press, 713 pp.

  48. van Asselt, M., Rotmans, J., den Elzen, M., and Hilderink, H.: 1995, ‘Uncertainty in Integrated Assessment Modelling: A Cultural Perspective-Based Approach’, GLOBO Report Series No. 9, RIVM, Bilthoven, The Netherlands, 71 pp.

  49. Weyant, J., Davidson, O., Dowlatabadi, H., Edmonds, J., Grubb, M., Parson, E., Richels, R., Rotmans, J., Shukla, P., Tol, R., Cline, W., and Fankhauser, S.: 1996, ‘Integrated Assessment of Climate Change: An Overview and Comparison of Approaches and Results’, in Climate Change 1995: Economic and Social Dimensions of Climate Change, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K., 448 pp.

  50. Wigley, T. M. L., Richels, R., and Edmonds, J. A.: 1996, ‘Economic and Environmental Choices in the Stabilization of Atmospheric CO2 Concentrations’, Nature 379, 240–243.

  51. Wynne, B. and Shackley, S.: 1994, ‘Environmental Models - Truth Machines or Social Heuristics’, The Globe 21, 6–8.

Download references

Author information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Risbey, J., Kandlikar, M. & Patwardhan, A. Assessing integrated assessments. Climatic Change 34, 369–395 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00139298

Download citation

Keywords

  • Climate Change
  • Quality Control
  • Environmental Change
  • Assessment Model
  • Control Procedure