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Supporting and informing decisions through assessment

As the word "transparency\ takes hold in business and government, the need to gather and disseminate the data is greater and ever more of a challenge. Enter Melissa Kenney, who focuses her research in environmental decision analysis and broadly addresses how to integrate both scientific knowledge and societal values into policy decision-making under uncertainty. Kenney, a AAAS member, enthusiastically spoke with me about a new portion of the 2013 Climate Assessment Report that has been developed called Decision Support chapter.

The Decision Support chapter outlines the framework for climate assessment and tools that are available to the public. The framework is, essentially, the list of variables that scientists and poly makers consider when making decisions regarding climate and policy. The tools are designed to compile data and present them in such a way that they will develop and support decision making and the activities that go with it. This is an ambitious project with many people involved. However, the draft calls for more than just the collective author's involvement. It also calls for collaborative work between scientists and those using the data.

The idea behind that is to create an expansive dialogue between the scientist and the user to the end of deepening understanding of climate science. In order to see this working to the fullest extent, Kenney envisions the institutions giving more recognition to those working between the boundaries of science and decision making policies, open town hall meetings, and talks where people are encouraged to be engaged with the process.

When asked what the take home message of this project is, Kenney wants to us to leave with this message:

"Not making a decision is a decision. People should feel empowered to use scientific information to inform their particular decisions. Sometimes the scientific information needs to be translated to be the most useful to a wider range of audiences. Making sure science is at the table when a decision is made is really critical."

More information about Kenney and her roll in the Global Change Research Project can be found by clicking on the following links:

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