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Cash, David W., Susanne C. Moser, Ted Parson, and William Easterling. 1998. "Scale Working Group Theme Paper: Cross-Scale Interactions in Assessment, Information Systems, and Decision-Making." 1997-1998 GEA Working Paper. Cambridge, MA: Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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The study and practice of environmental management and policy-making increasingly recognize the importance of scale and cross-scale dynamics. Assessment and management challenges arise from the facts that biophysical phenomena and the processes of human causation and response are intricately linked, but incompletely understood, and that the scales at which they manifest are frequently mismatched. A number of disciplines have stressed the importance of scale in ecological, social, and human-environment interactions, and they have begun to investigate selected cross-scale processes, but these processes prove to be complex and few strong generalizable propositions have emerged from these fields to date. There is also little understanding of the role that assessments do or can play in supporting effective policy-making and management of environmental phenomena/risks that span different levels of scale. This paper raises questions about cross-scale interactions in assessment, information systems, and decision-making and highlights the practical implications of these discussions in the context of the current National Assessment of the Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, and the assessment and management of other environmental problems.


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