Why isn't climate change a social issue - a special event at the British Library
There is a lot of climate science in the world. It has served us well, but its job, at least as regards the questions that make sense to us as ordinary people, is done. We know enough now, and more information is not going to change how people feel about taking action to reduce the amount or speed of warming.
In fact, the science is becoming part of the problem. The provision of scientific information has not resolved ideological differences. The desire for science to solve all our climate problems is misplaced. Yet, with a focus on the latest scientific findings dominating media and campaigning commentaries, it is easy to think the climate problem is a scientific problem. It’s not. It’s a political problem, a social problem, it is a problem about how we want to live in the world.
Political actors are happy for climate change to remain a problem of science and numbers, because that elevates the problem above the messy world of values and politics. But we have reached the terminus of the scientific approach. We must face up to the difficult questions, like ‘what are we going to do?’ Those questions involve all of us, not just scientists and politicians. Who gets to decide our future, what reasons do they have for making those decisions, and how do they justify those decisions?
Answering such difficult questions should not be the preserve of the few, not if we are truly the free citizens of a democratic society. And making climate change democratic means reconstructing the issue as a social problem.
As part of the process of socializing climate change I am organising a talk at the British Library in London on January 16th 2012, featuring the recent work of three academics who have written extensively on this topic; Mike Hulme, John Urry and Gordon Walker. They will be discussing chapters from their recent books which address the question - where next for society and climate change? They pull no punches in their analyses, and their approach is based on years of research into the social dimensions of the climate change debate. This is an essential opportunity for all those interested in bringing climate change into the democratic sphere, to help understand the issues involved in such a transition. It is also a chance to discuss the ideas with the authors and other delegates.
The evening includes free pdfs of the relevant chapters that the authors will be discussing on the night, a drinks reception, and the chance to buy the books discussed at a special discount rate.
For more details and to secure a ticket, visit http://www.britsoc.co.uk/NR/rdonlyres/8B803867-8BB6-45BC-9C14-EE17AAA958F4/0/Climate_Change_160112_Flier.pdf