How Should We Ask Questions about the Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge?

by | Mar 19, 2019

Despite decades of producing climate change knowledge and engaging in science communication and policy advising, there is still no discernible structural shift from a high‐ to a low‐ or even zero‐carbon‐emissions development pathway.

Anthropogenic climate change is one of the best publicly documented fields of knowledge in the history of science. Thousands of experts contribute regularly to global assessments organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in an extensive process of collective authorship, transparent peer review, and constantly evolving mechanisms of quality control. The field has seen decades of producing climate change knowledge and engaging in science communication and policy advising.

Yet, there is still no discernible structural shift from a high- to a low- or even zero-carbon-emissions development pathway. Many expert authors, thus, feel a growing frustration over the obvious gap between climate change knowledge and climate change action.

A WIREs Climate Change editorial comment asks about the current status of climate change knowledge in society.

It makes suggestions on how to think about the role of knowledge in an unavoidably multipolar, multiplex, and multidimensional society that is constantly evolving. The status of knowledge in society, and its potential effect on social change, can only be understood if power relations and processes of identity formation are also taken into consideration.

Future reviews could thus seek to answer the following questions: What is knowledge in such a multifaceted society? Where is knowledge generated in society? How is access to knowledge structured? What kind of knowledge is needed, and for whom?

The domain “social status of climate change knowledge” can contribute to a better understanding of the complex relations between climate change and social change by providing solid reviews on the social status of climate change knowledges in the plural, embedded in a broad understanding of the co-evolutions of science and society.

 

Kindly contributed by the author.

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