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2018 | OriginalPaper | Buchkapitel

2. Knowledge and Climate

verfasst von : Alexander Ruser

Erschienen in: Climate Politics and the Impact of Think Tanks

Verlag: Springer International Publishing

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Abstract

This chapter discusses the complex relation of climate, knowledge, and politics. Climate change, if taken seriously, demands robust policymaking. This raises the important question of how exactly science can inform decision-making and how to safeguard science from being “politicized” and whether, indeed, this is actually possible. The chapter describes some of the principles and strategies that allow climate sceptics to beat climate scientists at their own game: Exploiting the differences between an everyday understanding and a scientific definition of “certainty” and “proof” allows partisan experts advocacy think tanks to cast doubt, influence public opinion, and provide policymaker with “reasoned arguments” against climate protection.

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Fußnoten
1
From a legal perspective, insanity can be described as ‘mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality’ (cf. http://​dictionary.​law.​com/​Default.​aspx/​Default.​aspx?​selected=​979).
 
2
For a more detailed discussion, see Stehr and Machin (2018) Climate & Society.
 
3
Scientists had it all wrong, for instance, when they thought that the use of asbestos was harmless or that frontal lobotomies are an appropriate treatment for mental disorders.
 
4
Scepticism is arguably a cardinal virtue of the scientists, as, for instance, T.H. Huxley reminds us: ‘For the improver of natural knowledge scepticism is the highest of duties, blind faith the one unpardonable sin’ (Huxley, cited after Powell 2011: 4).
 
5
For a more detailed discussion of the 2C target, see Knopf et al. (2012).
 
6
The report of the United Nations “Brundtland Commission”, named after its chair, the former Norwegian Prime. Minister Gro Brundtland was an important catalyst of global awareness and debate of environmental problems. Titled Our Common Future, the report is widely regarded as the first attempt to develop a comprehensive approach to sustainable development. It was further instrumental in setting up UN summits on environmental issues starting with the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
 
8
James Powell, for instance, refers to a highly controversial email in which the paper of a climate sceptic researcher is called “just garbage” and the sender promises to somehow keep it out of the upcoming IPCC Report. While the email seems to prove that the community of climate scientist is hopelessly biased and systematically suppresses dissenting views, paper rejections are actually part of standard scientific practice. Also, the mail doesn’t prove that the authors intend to reject high-quality research for political reasons but rather that they doubt the quality of the research itself (cf. Powell 2011: 161–162).
 
9
Peer-reviewed processes and ethic commissions, for instance, shall make sure that scientific publications meet some quality and ethical standards.
 
10
Interestingly Schuldt finds that conservative, climate sceptic think tank in the USA predominantly make use of the term global warming, while liberal think tanks prefer “climate change” (Schuldt 2016: 21).
 
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Metadaten
Titel
Knowledge and Climate
verfasst von
Alexander Ruser
Copyright-Jahr
2018
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-75750-6_2

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