The goal of this AGU-sponsored project is to make the science underpinning the Copenhagen negotiations accessible to journalists. To that end, the email exchange forum is designed to answer questions about the current state of scientific knowledge, with a special emphasis on the physical sciences that relate to climate change. Non-science questions such as those relating to policy, ethics, or economics will be returned to sender for refinement. Here are examples of the types of questions that are out of our scope, along with explanations and suggested refinements:
Sample: How much will it cost to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
Why not answered: The cost of greenhouse gas emission reductions is a complex and open question dependent on technology, policy, and economics.
Related (science) question: What are the sources of greenhouse gas emissions?
Sample: What are the best ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions?
Why not answered: Any ranking of abatement options depends on a number of judgments that include economics, ethics, and politics (The word "best" is what makes this question inappropriate)
Refinement: By how much might some proposed activity reduce carbon dioxide emissions?
Sample: Is current U.S. infrastructure adequate for sea level rise?
Why not answered: Judgments of adequacy involve tradeoffs in risk and in policy.
Refinement: What amount of sea level rise might occur this century?
Sample: Is there too much uncertainty in climate models to use them for planning purposes?
Why not answered: We will not evaluate uncertainty or policy processes. We can, however, describe the level of uncertainty and explain its sources. The words "too much" and "for planning purposes" make this question inappropriate.
Refinement: What are the main sources of uncertainty in climate models?