Wednesday, August 26, 2009

U.N.: "History can no longer guide farmers, investors"

The UN may be overstating the case. Models are just one tool in the box. From Reuters:
Climate change has made history an inaccurate guide for farmers as well as energy investors who must rely on probabilities and scenarios to make decisions, the head of a United Nations agency said on Wednesday.

Michel Jarraud, director-general of the World Meteorological Organization, said that water and temperature projections have become more valuable than the historical weather data that long governed strategy in agriculture, hydro-electric power, solar technology and other fields.

"The past is no longer a good indicator of the future," the WMO chief told a press briefing, describing climate modeling and prediction as key to fisheries, forestry, transport and tourism, as well as efforts to fight diseases such as malaria.

People looking to build energy infrastructure are especially hungry for specific environmental information that can affect the long-term profitability of their projects, he argued.

"If in 100 years there is not going to be water going into the dam, it's not a brilliant investment," Jarraud said.

In the farming sector, the Frenchman suggested that guidance passed down through generations about how to prepare and manage crops was becoming less relevant because of changing patterns of heat, humidity and water access around the world.


"This traditional knowledge is no longer adapted. It's exactly because your grandfather did this that you shouldn't do it, because the context has changed," he said.

"This is something completely new -- to make decisions not on facts or statistics about the past, but on the probabilities for the future," he said....MORE

Obviously not a "speculator". From our February post "Where in the Bear are We?":

One etymology of the word speculation:

c.1374, "contemplation, consideration," from O.Fr. speculation, from L.L. speculationem (nom. speculatio) "contemplation, observation," from L. speculatus, pp. of speculari "observe," from specere "to look at, view" (see scope (1)). Disparaging sense of "mere conjecture" is recorded from 1575. Meaning "buying and selling in search of profit from rise and fall of market value" is recorded from 1774; short form spec is attested from 1794. Speculator in the financial sense is first recorded 1778. Speculate is a 1599 back-formation.
That is not the etymology grandmother taught me. Hers had to do with Italian merchants keeping watchtowers manned to spot sails over the horizon, enabling those who could see furthest to sell off inventory before goods-ladened ships made harbor and crashed the market. More like this etymology at Wictionary:
From Latin speculātus, past participle of speculor (look out), from specula (watchtower), from specio (look at)