Forecasting by Analogy: 
Notes from the CuSee-Me interaction with Mickey Glantz

We are destined to mitigate and adapt. – Mickey Glantz

Below is an account of the 50 minute interaction between the Global Change class and Mickey Glantz, author of Forecasting by Analogy. If you wish, you may want to examine the technical aspects that when on behind the scenes.


– Dr. Takle

He emphasized that the course examines interdisciplinary topics

Through the curriculum students examine human progress

The question now: How do humans respond to climate change?

Forecasting by Analogy

– Mickey Glantz

Overview – using models and correlating them with activities

Use input of models to make scenarios of the future that societies can respond to.

Models are not yet ready for policy use – especially at regional and local levels where people feel the greates impact.

Idea (for Forecasting by Analogy) stimulated by a reaction of how we can get a better handle on forecasting.

(Focus on) changes in the physical atmosphere and changes in ecology due to changes in human activities.

Social scientists need long-term baseline data.

On a decadal scale in the recent past, study the societal strengths and weaknesses for (significant) events.

There is more likely a climate variability, so ask, “How well has society responded to climate variability?”

All you need to get started is a pencil and some history.

Describe Prevention, Compensation, Adaption

Action has a cost – what do we do in the future? Examine the Salt Lake Case.

Mitigation – proaction prior to change. Example: (1) burn coal; (2) Global warming; (3) acid rain. Pays to look at the use of coal.

Adaption – reaction to change.

Today, we moved from prevention to adaption, which has become a murky combination of mitigation and adaption. The use of CFCs is an example. The key is that CFC producers are finite.

On the other hand, CO2 producers are widespread and therefore production is much more difficult to change.

Question: using a bank analogy, is it time for the industrialized countries to put back environmental quality (a so called “clean environment”) so that developing countries can industrialize (essentially go through the same process we did, including increasing CO2 emissions)? The key here could be helping the developing countries to industrialize with better technology. The problem is that technology is still difficult to transfer.

Ogallala Analogy

Nebraska is still in good shape.

High Plains (Texas), which is at the edge of the aquifer, is running out of water. What kind of actions were taken as they realized they were running out?

Farmers could: (1) abandon the farm; (2) drill deeper wells; (3) move to dry land farming.

Examine how people are changing as the regional water balance changes

Intra- vs Intergenerational Issues

Problem: how do you get some control on intergenerational issues? What about intragenerational issues? Why should we be concerned about 50 years from now when we can’t solve issues of now?

We should have a 5 generation conference to discuss the intergenerational issues, looking for new solutions, and link this to intragenerational equity.

We are really saying that from now on we want to preserve the planet for the next generation?

Renewable does not imply rapid time – more likely multi-generations. Even coal is renewable in several hundred million years.

Question posed by a student: Are there winners and losers in Global Warming? There are winners and losers, it depends on your point of view (i.e. an Ethiopian farmer would see himself as a loser in Global Warming).

Question posed by a student: How can tradable permits help with individuals, say with CO2? You have to look at the bulk of individuals who contribute to CO2. It is easier to go to the “new” contributors than the existing ones.

Final Remarks

The idea for Forecasting by Analogy is to get an idea fo how well soceity is able to adjust to change. Generally speaking, recent past studies can help us for the future. Physical scientists use analogues for reasoning as well as social scientists. “Analogy” is a social scientist’s word for an analogue. course prototype

Climate Affairs

Proposed Mini-Course Overview


Despite the increasing notoriety of climate change, there are few comprehensive educational forums for students and professionals to explore the national, international, and policy implications of a changing climate.  The proposed Climate Affairs program is a multi-disciplinary approach to providing program participants with a realistic understanding of the interrelationship among climate variability and change, human activities, ecological goods and services, and public service at home and abroad.  Because climate research spans multiple disciplines, the proposed Climate Affairsprogram encompasses the study of climate, water and weather science, societal and environmental impacts, politics, policy, law, economics, engineering, and ethics and equity.

Program Goals

The goal of the Climate Affairs program is to develop a certificate or degree program that teaches student to understand: 1) how a changing climate affects everything from science and engineering to policy, economics, and ethics and equity issues; 2) the differences between climate variability, climate change, extreme weather events and seasonality; 3) the interactions among climate variations, human activities, ecological processes, and policy responses.  The multidisciplinary curriculum will prepare students and mid-career professionals to assume in NGO, corporate, and government positions that require a knowledge of climate and climate-related affairs.

Target Audience:

The general public, professionals, professors, policy makers and students at all levels.

The Climate Affairs Core Curriculum

  • Climate Science encompasses the various physical processes involved in global and regional climate variability, change and extremes.
  • Climate Impacts refers to the impacts of climate behavior on ecosystems and on societies.
  • Climate Policy & Law examines the activities that are under way to develop regulatory bodies related to the climate system.
  • Climate Politics has purposely been separated from Climate Policy & Law in order to focus on the process involved in garnering agreement on climate politics at the local, national, regional and international levels.
  • Climate Economics addresses the economic aspects of climate-related issues, which include socio-economic impacts of climate variability, change and extremes.
  • Geo-engineering encompasses activities that range from modification of the local environment to grander-scale attempts to counterbalance the adverse impacts of climate and capitalize on climate’s benefits.
  • Climate Ethics and Equity examines notions of intergenerational equity, environmental justice, valuation of regional climate, winners and losers in various climate change scenarios, and the precautionary principles.

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