Climate science has detected that human activities are changing the climate at a speed, which is, compared to changes in the geological past, fast and with significant consequences for economy and societies as well as ecosystems.
Since both adapting to all changes and avoiding all climate change seems hardly impossible, societies of the world have to decide about the right mix of adaptation to and mitigation of man‐made climate change. Deciding about this is a political task, not a scientific task.
On the other hand, the concept of man‐made climate change is not a recent scientific discovery, but is part of the western narrative of creation, divine justice and a number of social constructions. This should be subject to social science studies, but finds too little attention.
On October 16, 2018, Prof. Hans Von Storch – Director emeritus of the Institute of Coastal Research of the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht, Germany, explored the issue during the CMCC webinar “The political dimension of climate change”.
Watch the video:
Thus “climate” is made up of at least two competing concepts, one being a scientific construction, and the other a string of social constructions (with the scientific one also being a special type of social construction). The result is that climate change becomes a post-normal science, with urgent decisions, inherent uncertainties, values in dispute and costly risks. Typical for such a situation is that representatives of opposing sides adopt a position of knowledge superiority, scientists now, priests in the past, so that arriving in a social negotiation process at acceptable “solutions” is fraught with heavy conflicts and significant delays as well as demands for “expert governments”.
Science is a social process, but is usually considered special in its ability to correctly deconstruct, analyze and describe complex phenomena.
How much do climate science and society steer each other? How independent are the different social spheres of people and concepts?
What does society expect from climate science? Which function should climate science have?