Green Track (C-40): Complex Systems Modeling Applications

- Session Description (click to collapse)

This session will have two parts.

In Part I, a decision analysis framework will be presented for answering the question “Should we invest now to adapt to possible climate change, or wait and see?” The focus is on water infrastructure decisions, but the general framework is widely applicable. Within this framework, the outputs of complex systems models provide information on how alternative investments now will affect costs, health impacts, and other performance metrics under possible climate scenarios.

In Part II, participants will interact to prioritize problem areas in which such complex modeling and decision analytic approaches might yield useful insights on where adaptation investments should be considered in the near future. We will consider factors such as how long investments last, whether they play a unique or incremental role in the functioning of the system, and the sensitivity of their performance to climate variables.

Recommended Resources

Presentations from the Session and the Workshop Panel Summary

- Moderator (click to collapse)

Ben Hobbs

Benjamin Hobbs is the Theodore M. & Kay W. Schad Professor in Environmental Management in the Whiting School of Engineering’s Department of Geography and Environmental Engineering. His research interests include environmental and energy systems analysis and economics, multiobjective and risk analysis, ecosystem management, mathematical programming models of imperfect energy markets, and stochastic electric power planning models. Dr. Hobbs directs the recently established Johns Hopkins University Environment, Energy, Sustainability, and Health Institute.


Ph.D., Environmental Systems Engineering, Cornell University, 1983
M.S., Resource Management and Policy, State University of New York, Syracuse, 1978
B.S., Non-Major (Mathematics and Environmental Sciences), South Dakota State University, 1976

- Notes (click to collapse)Is climate change relevant to choices we're making now?

Moderator: Benjamin Hobbs

General Systems Framework
-We make choices now under situations of uncertainty, considering the full range of consequences, that affect future possibilities

Square Node: choices today
Round Node: possible climate scenarios
Adaptation Action

The question: how do we design it? Or do we just wait and see?
*This system can be formalized mathematically

Compare today's strategy to a strategy as if the world was stagnant
If we choose wait & see, this option can be reversed at any point in time
Decisions are sensitive to climate change beliefs

Recommendations for analyzing these decisions:
1. Are costs and benefits of a decision sensitive to climate change?
2. If climate change is for certain, would your decision change?
3. Is regret from making the wrong decision large?  
4. If yes, think! Consider a new range of scenarios

Q1. What societal decisions are we making now that might be sensitive to beleifs about climate change?
-Roadway expansion (HOV Lanes)
-Public Health Departments budgeting and resource allocation for PH Service Delivery
-Reinforcement of the Water Protection System in the Netherlands
-Harnessing water policies for agriculture in arid climates during times of drought
-Costs of Research in new investments (solar energy)
-Nuclear Alternative Energy Policies
-Investment decisions related to coastal and non-coastal water plants
-Passive wastewater treatment methods vs. active methods
-Clean Water Supply
-Tipping points in climate change (how do abrupt changes affect public health funding/structure)
-Research on geoengineering
- Food imports and exports (enable localization)
-Limiting development in high risk climate change areas(rules and regulations)
-Investments/Adaptation to Salinization
-Increases in heat waves and it's affect on vulnerable populations
-Investments in building design (ex. rooves)
-Advanced planning for relocation of vulnerable wetland areas
-Other coastal areas that could suffer from climate change(roads, rails, ports, homes, businesses)
-Research on climate-infectious disease interactions
-Research on health/mental health effects of stress related to so many changing conditions related to climte change

Ranking Poll Results:
1.Water management for agricultural (investment) 14% (112)
2. regulation of development in high risk areas (flood plain, coastal) 13% (101)
3. Infectious disease in climate change 8% (60)

4. Other Coastal (roods, rails businesses) 7% (53)
5. Research into stress impacts, PH department: resource allocation 6% (50)
6. Coastal Power plants (Sea Level rise) 6% (45)
7. Nuclear Power Alternatives 5% (41)
8. building desing (rooves, etc.), Reinforcement of water protection systems 4% (34)
9. Roadway Expansion 4% (32)
10. Advance relocation planning 4% (29)
11. Adoption of passive vs. active waste water technologies 4% (28)
12. Research into geoengineering 3% (25)
13. Food exports ( enable localization) 3% (22)
14. research on heat wave vulnerability, Water supply systems 3% (21)
15. Research into solar technologies 2% (13)
16. Investment into de-salinization 1% (11)

Q2. From the above list, which decisions deserve careful analysis?

Q3. What improvements in systems modeling capabilities are needed to improve health projections? 
-Research on tipping points, discount rates
-What methods are really best for coastal protection? How do you make coastal infrastructure more adapatable?
-Next step in disease surveillance relating to effects of climate change
-Research about health outcomes and diseases are related to climate and how to predict? (vector-borne diseases)
-Identify incremental or modular solutions for infrastructure in general
-Climate change prioritization in decision making and research on how to consider climate change in PH prioritization using decision analysis
-Behavior change: What does it take?
-Consequences of mroe sustained drought on health and food.



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Q3: Response by Luke.MacDonald
Research: models for by Mark.Olsthoorn
Q3: What research, by Mark.Olsthoorn
Ben has asked our group to by Molly.Macauley
Idea #2 Regulation/Rules by Cindy.Parker
3 decisions by Mark.Olsthoorn
Infrastructure idea by Cindy.Parker