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Not what but how

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By Roger Snodgrass

The page is turning on the climate debate.

In recent years and decades, the role of climate scientists was to convince policy-makers and the public that climate change was an issue.

That mission has been largely accomplished, according to Guy Brasseur, a renowned modeler of atmospheric chemistry.

He said the question now is about informing the social and political systems on how best to respond and predicting what effects any particular response might mean to the future.

“What should we do in terms of mitigation and adaptation?” Brasseur asked, as he suggested steps that need to be taken toward developing an “earth-system” perspective, an understanding of the whole planet as a complex, dynamic system.

The weather is always remarkable, it seems, but it has grown slightly more predictable for a few days ahead. But the climate remains puzzling, as the stakes grow larger in terms of when climate change might arrive and how disruptive it might be.