Case Western researcher, international team call for better global warming forecasting

Case Western Reserve University faculty member Matthew Sobel has joined a team of international scientists calling for better forecasting methods in predicting how climate changes will impact the earths plant and animal species. They have reported eight ways to improve biodiversity forecasting in the BioScience article, "Forecasting the Effects of Global Warming on Biodiversity."

Sobel, the William E. Umstattd Professor at the Weatherhead School of Management, began consciously tithing a portion of his research time 40 years ago to critical environmental concerns at time when those issues were not fashionable in most of academia.

In addition to predictions about global changes, the researchers also want better forecasting to unravel "the Quaternary conundrum," which is evidence suggesting that many of the estimated 1.5 million species on earth are in danger of extinction from global warming, yet over the past 2.5 million years little extinction is documented in the fossil record.

"The simultaneous widespread and justified alarm over global warming and changes in biodiversity has induced both outstanding scientific research and deplorable pseudoscientific work," said Sobel.

Sobel raises concerns about the "blurring" of scientific fact with public advocacy and wants public discussions to center around sound environmental facts.

"Where the science has limitations that should be noted, too," added Sobel.

His concern is that misinformation or poorly constructed forecasts may divert and reduce resources that could be better spent in other areas.

Limits of scientific knowledge exist with current forecasting models, according to Sobel, and these need to be acknowledged when reporting global warming.

The concern for accurate information and reporting resulted in the articles lead authorsDaniel Botkin from the University of California at Santa Barbara and Henrik Saxe from the Danish Environment

Contact: Susan Griffith
Case Western Reserve University

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