The Value of Seasonal Climate Forecasts in Managing Energy Resources

Edith Brown Weiss Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC 20001

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Abstract

Research and interviews with officials of the United States energy industry and a systems analysis of decision making in a natural gas utility lead to the conclusion that seasonal climate forecasts would only have limited value in fine tuning the management of energy supply, even if the forecasts were more reliable and detailed than at present.

On the other hand, reliable forecasts could be useful to state and local governments both as a signal to adopt long-term measures to increase the efficiency of energy use and to initiate short-term measures to reduce energy demand in anticipation of a weather-induced energy crisis.

To be useful for these purposes, state governments would need better data on energy demand patterns and available energy supplies, staff competent to interpret climate forecasts, and greater incentive to conserve. The use of seasonal climate forecasts is not likely to be constrained by fear of legal action by those claiming to be injured by a possible incorrect forecast.

Abstract

Research and interviews with officials of the United States energy industry and a systems analysis of decision making in a natural gas utility lead to the conclusion that seasonal climate forecasts would only have limited value in fine tuning the management of energy supply, even if the forecasts were more reliable and detailed than at present.

On the other hand, reliable forecasts could be useful to state and local governments both as a signal to adopt long-term measures to increase the efficiency of energy use and to initiate short-term measures to reduce energy demand in anticipation of a weather-induced energy crisis.

To be useful for these purposes, state governments would need better data on energy demand patterns and available energy supplies, staff competent to interpret climate forecasts, and greater incentive to conserve. The use of seasonal climate forecasts is not likely to be constrained by fear of legal action by those claiming to be injured by a possible incorrect forecast.

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