The gap between science and environmental policy

Why is climate change ahead of climate policy?

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “science-policy gap.” The science-policy gap refers to the difficulty of turning scientific information into policy and decisions.

For example, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change represented an unprecedented international scientific consensus on global climate change.

From the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report:

“Recent changes in climate have caused impacts on natural and human systems on all continents and across the oceans.”

Reaction to the IPCC’s findings have been conflicting. The responses generally fell into two camps:

  • Those who argued that scientists still know too little about climate change to warrant policy formation.
  • Those who said that the science behind climate change was not the problem, but indecisiveness and the absence of political willpower.

Are these differing views preventing climate action?

The scientist’s responsibility

A Colorado State University panel will discuss, “Bridging the gap between science and policy: The scientist’s responsibility in a changing world,” on Wednesday, Sept. 24, 5-6:30 p.m., at Avogadro’s Number, 605 S. Mason St. in Fort Collins.

The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation is the School of Global Environmental Sustainability’s (SoGES) first Managing the Planet panel discussion of the semester and will look at the widening gap between environmental science and environmental policy.

With new discoveries and growing environmental scientific concerns around the world, why haven’t policies changed as well? What can scientists do to bridge this gap?

Panel of experts

  • Peter Backlund, associate director, School of Global Environmental Sustainability;
  • Barry Noon, professor, Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology in the Warner College of Natural Resources;
  • Emily Fischer, assistant professor, Department of Atmospheric Sciences; and
  • Sandra Davis, associate professor, Department of Political Science.

The discussion will be moderated by Gene Kelly, the School’s associate director of Research and Development Programs and professor, Department of Soil and Crop Sciences.

The Managing the Planet series is sponsored by CSU’s School of Global Environmental Sustainability. (SoGES)

Next panel

The next panel in the series will be a cosponsored by  SoGES and the CSU Water Center on Oct. 15.