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Moser, Susanne. 1998. "Talk Globally, Walk Locally: The Cross-Scale Influence of Global Change Information on Coastal Zone Management in Maine and Hawai'i." Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs (BCSIA) Discussion Paper E-98-16. Cambridge, MA: Environment and Natural Resources Program, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.

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A rise in sea level and potential changes in storm climatology (changes in frequency, intensity and geographic distribution of coastal storms) are of utmost relevance to coastal zone policy-making, development, and management. Human welfare, high investments, and significant environmental resources that are intimately linked to economic activities in the coastal zone are at stake. Somewhat surprisingly, however, there is currently rather scant concern with global climatic and related environmental changes among U.S. coastal managers, especially at sub-national levels.

Prior research indicates that highly functional, two-way information exchanges across various levels of scale (international to local) is a necessary if probably not sufficient condition for a greater integration of global change science into decision-making at national and sub-national levels. Thus, the questions arise as to what kind of information sub-national policy- and decision-makers need in order "to factor in" sea-level rise and other climate changes into their policies and management activities? In what form, from whom, and when do they need it? Are these needs known to, and can they be met by, information producers or providers? What is "useful" and credible information? What are the factors and processes -- both inherent in the information itself and in the institutional set-up through which information exchange takes place -- that bring about "effective" information use? In other words, how can the plethora of scientific global change information produced internationally and nationally be made more useful to those who ultimately will have to decide on and implement pragmatic responses to a changing environment at the state, regional, and local levels?

This study addresses these questions in the context of coastal zone management in two U.S. states, Maine and Hawai'i. It demonstrates that more than scale boundaries need to be crossed in order to enable a "local walk" to follow "global talk," that the integration of information and decision systems needs to be coupled such that relevant and credible information flows to practitioners with real decision-making powers, and that significant and maybe a more focused effort is necessary to create a demand for global change-related information that connects with present management problems at different levels of scale and among a broad range of agencies, interest groups, and legislative actors. The study also shows that "local walk" begins to affect at least "regional and state talk" in coastal zone management by way of creating coalitions and networks among concerned actors that are rallied around problems of a particular geographic extent rather than around institutional affiliations that correlate with different levels of scale. The findings are applied to the U.S. National Assessment on the Consequences of Climate Variability and Change and recommendations for its design and implementation are given.

Subsequent History

· Revised paper presented at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union
New Citation: Moser, Susanne. 1999. "Taking Local Control of a Global Problem: What it May Take to Respond to Sea-level Rise." Presented 2 June at the "Saving our Coast" session, 1999 Spring Meeting, American Geophysical Union, Boston, MA.
· Revised paper presented at the University of Vermont, Department of Geography
New Citation: Moser, Susanne. 1999. "Talk Globally, Walk Locally: Vulnerability and Response to Sea-level Rise in Maine and Hawai'i." Presented 25 February at the University of Vermont, Department of Geography, Burlington, VT.


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