The "Bridging the Gap" topic drew so much interest from conference presenters that dual sessions were arranged (Session I and Session II). Representative topics from Session II:
-On the use of Empirical Data to Downscale Non-scientific Scepticism About Results From Complex Physical Based Models
-The Role and Responsibility of the Non-Governmental Organization in Bridging Science and Policy
-Mapping for Advocacy - Using Marine Geophysical Data to Establish the Limits of Extended Continental Shelves under the Convention on the Law of the Sea (yes, my poster, with geophysicist Bernie Coakley from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks).
Both Session I and Session II were organized under the rubric of Global Environmental Change. This category is a particularly important driver in improving the science-policy interface in the context of the Arctic. If members of the public in non-arctic regions do not understand how changes in the Arctic affect them, they will not see the need to support arctic research generally.
Another relevant program to science and policy making communication was the “Frontiers of Geophysics Lecture” featured Google's Michael Jones, who examined “the relationship among mechanisms of knowledge sharing, the pace of scientific advancement, and the degree of public understanding of new results.”
For their part, international lawyers are also giving increased attention to the science-policy interface. During last week’s AGU meeting, an announcement crossed my e-desk from the European and American societies of international law announcing a “Research Forum: Changing Futures? Science and International Law”, to be held in Helsinki next October. A representative sampling of suggested topics include Data Protection and International Law, Climate Change and Global Environmental Protection, Global Health Issues, Intellectual Property Rights, and Developments in the Law of the Sea, including Maritime Delimitation.
Almost all of these topics are regulated at least in part by one or more international treaties (as is, of course, the case with mapping the Extended Continental Shelf). If my time on the Healy taught me anything, it is that existing treaties will be more effectively enforced and new treaties will be better crafted when lawyers better understand the underlying science. Science in effect drives the compliance and enforcement mechanisms that our treaties (and domestic laws) establish.
A closing note: Communication between science and decision-makers is a long-standing interest of President-Elect Obama’s choice to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Jane Lubchenco. Ten years ago Lubchenco founded the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program, whose purpose is to advance “environmental decision-making by providing academic scientists with the skills and connections needed to be effective leaders and communicators.”