The Earth has humans, so why don’t our climate models?

Brian Beckage, Katherine Lacasse, Jonathan M. Winter, Louis J. Gross, Nina Fefferman, Forrest M. Hoffman, Sara S. Metcalf, Travis Franck, Eric Carr, Asim Zia, Ann Kinzig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


While climate models have rapidly advanced in sophistication over recent decades, they lack dynamic representation of human behavior and social systems despite strong feedbacks between social processes and climate. The impacts of climate change alter perceptions of risk and emissions behavior that, in turn, influence the rate and magnitude of climate change. Addressing this deficiency in climate models requires a substantial interdisciplinary effort to couple models of climate and human behavior. We suggest a multi-model approach that considers a range of theories and implementations of human behavior and social systems, similar to the multi-model approach that has been used to explore the physical climate system. We describe the importance of linking social factors with climate processes and identify four priorities essential to advancing the development of coupled social-climate models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 2020


  • Behavioral theory
  • Climate change
  • Coupled social-climate models
  • Natural-human systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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