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Disband UN IPCC? The Dirty Politics of Climate Science

Written by Marc Morano

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Pressure Mounts From Inside: Disband UN IPCC? Scientist from U. of East Anglia Suggests 'UN IPCC has run its course...politicizes climate science...authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production'

ClimateGate reveals science has become 'too partisan, too centralized...more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures'

Climate Depot

Republished from New York Times Reporter Andrew Revkin's Dot Earth:

Dot Earth: Insights from Mike Hulme at the University of East Anglia, which was the source of the disclosed files. Hulme, a climate scientist at the University of East Anglia and author of " Why We Disagree About Climate Change," has weighed in with these thoughts about the significance of the leaked files and emails. In November 2009, Hulme was listed as "the 10th most cited author in the world in the field of climate change, between 1999 and 2009. (ScienceWatch, Nov/Dec 2009, see Table 2).

Hulme Key Excerpt: [Upcoming UN climate conference in Copenhagen] "is about raw politics, not about the politics of science. [...] It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science. It is also possible that the institutional innovation that has been the I.P.C.C. has run its course. Yes, there will be an AR5 but for what purpose? The I.P.C.C. itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production - just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive.

Full Hulme Statement: The key lesson to be learned is that not only must scientific knowledge about climate change be publicly owned - the I.P.C.C. does a fairly good job of this according to its own terms - but the very practices of scientific enquiry must also be publicly owned, in the sense of being open and trusted. From outside, and even to the neutral, the attitudes revealed in the emails do not look good. To those with bigger axes to grind it is just what they wanted to find.

This will blow its course soon in the conventional media without making too much difference to Copenhagen - after all, COP15 is about raw politics, not about the politics of science. But in the Internet worlds of deliberation and in the 'mood' of public debate about the trustworthiness of climate science, the reverberations of this episode will live on long beyond COP15. Climate scientists will have to work harder to earn the warranted trust of the public - and maybe that is no bad thing. But this episode might signify something more in the unfolding story of climate change. This event might signal a crack that allows for processes of re-structuring scientific knowledge about climate change.

It is possible that some areas of climate science has become sclerotic. It is possible that climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked emails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science. It is also possible that the institutional innovation that has been the I.P.C.C. has run its course. Yes, there will be an AR5 but for what purpose? The I.P.C.C. itself, through its structural tendency to politicize climate change science, has perhaps helped to foster a more authoritarian and exclusive form of knowledge production - just at a time when a globalizing and wired cosmopolitan culture is demanding of science something much more open and inclusive.

 

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