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Raw Data

Making Relations Matter

Antonia Walford

This article takes scientific ‘raw data’ as its ethnographic object in order to investigate the co-implication of nature and culture in scientific knowledge practices. The article traces out some of the activities that are involved in producing numerical climate data from the Brazilian Amazon. Although science and technology studies (STS) makes a strong case for associating relationality with certainty, the article argues that a particular form of data, ‘raw data’, complicates this association. It further argues that scientific data is not simply composed out of relations, but is a relation itself. The article ends with a brief reflection on the possible repercussions of shifting from thinking of science as producing multiple natures and cultures to thinking of it as producing the potential for relations.

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Catherine Mei Ling Wong

In East Asia, climate change as a policy concern has been a late developer. The last decade, however, has seen the mainstreaming of environmental issues in core policy circles, but in the form of market-friendly, pro-industrial development framings. This paper problematizes such environmental framings by looking at the politics of state-led ecological modernization and the institutional reforms that have emerged out of it. It argues that State-led ecological modernization necessarily leads to environmental framings that are too narrowly defined by state and industrial interests - hence the focus on carbon emissions, energy security and the impact on Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The State-driven assumption that society can modernize itself out of its environmental crisis through greater advancements in technological development also ignores the fact that this process often leads to the creation of other environmental and social problems, which in turn undermines the fundamental goals of stability and sustainability. Civil society needs to be given greater space in the policy and framing processes in order to have a more balanced policy approach to environmental reform in a more equitable way.

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Kenneth Shockley

The likelihood that the poor will suffer disproportionately from the effects of climate change makes it necessary that any just scheme for addressing the costs and burdens of climate change integrate those disproportionate effects. The Greenhouse Development Rights (GDRs) framework a empts to do just this. The GDRs framework is a burden-sharing approach to climate change that assigns national obligations on the basis of historical emissions and current capacity to provide assistance. It does so by including only those emissions that correspond to income exceeding a development threshold. According to the GDRs framework, this development threshold considers the right to develop to be held by individuals rather than the nations in which those individuals find themselves. The article provides a critique of this framework, focusing on three concerns: First, in generating national obligations the GDRs framework collapses significantly different moral considerations into a single index, presenting both theoretical and practical problems. Second, the framework relies on a contentious and underdeveloped conception of the right to develop. Third, the framework's exclusive focus on individual concerns systematically overlooks irreducibly social concerns. The article concludes by pointing to an alternative approach to balancing development against the burdens of climate change.

Spanish La alta probabilidad de que los pobres sufran de manera desproporcionada los efectos del cambio climático requiere que cualquier sistema que se supone de hacer frente a los costos y las responsabilidades del cambio climático incorpore precisamente estos efectos desproporcionados. Esto es precisamente lo que el modelo de Derechos al Desarrollo con Emisiones Responsables de Gases de Efecto Invernadero (GDR por sus siglas en inglés) está tratando de hacer. El modelo promueve un enfoque para compartir la carga relacionada con los efectos del cambio climático asignando obligaciones nacionales sobre la base de las emisiones históricas y la capacidad actual de prestar asistencia. Lo hace mediante la inclusión de sólo aquellas emisiones que corresponden a un ingreso superior a un 'umbral de desarrollo' de finido. De acuerdo con el modelo GDR, este umbral implica el derecho al desarrollo que tienen las personas individuales, no los países en que viven. En este artículo presento una evaluación crítica del modelo propuesto con base en tres puntos principales. Primero, cuando el GDR genera obligaciones nacionales, colapsa significativamente diferentes consideraciones morales en un solo índice, presentando problemas teóricos y metodológicos. Segundo, el modelo se basa en una polémica y poco desarrollada concepción del derecho al desarrollo. Tercero, el enfoque exclusivo en las cuestiones individuales ignora sistemáticamente las irreductibles preocupaciones sociales. Concluyo esbozando un enfoque alternativo para equilibrar el desarrollo contra de las cargas del cambio climático.

French La très forte probabilité que les pauvres souffrent de façon disproportionnée des effets du changement climatique exige qu'un système qui aborde les coûts et les responsabilités du changement climatique intègre justement ces effets disproportionnés. C'est précisément ce que le système des Droits au Développement dans un Monde sous Contrainte Carbone (DDMCC - anglais GDR, Greenhouse Development Rights) essaie de faire. Ce modèle propose la répartition entre les pays des responsabilités/contraintes associés aux effets du changement climatique en assignant des obligations nationales sur la base de leurs émissions cumulées et de leur capacité actuelle à apporter une aide. Ce e approche inclut uniquement les émissions de gaz correspondant aux revenus dépassant un certain seuil de développement. D'après le modèle DDMCC, le seuil de développement considère un droit au développement qui revient aux personnes individuellement, et non aux pays dans lesquels elles vivent. Dans cet article, je dresse un bilan critique du modèle proposé sur la base de trois points principaux. Premièrement, le modèle DDMCC confond différentes considérations morales en un seul index quand il génère des obligations nationales, ce qui pose des problèmes à la fois théoriques et pratiques. Deuxièmement, il se base sur une conception du droit au développement suje e à polémique et trop peu développée. Troisièmement, l'accent mis exclusivement sur les préoccupations individuelles néglige systématiquement les préoccupations sociales pourtant incontournables. Je conclus en esquissant une approche alternative perme ant d'équilibrer les exigences du développement et les contraintes du changement climatique.

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Afterword

Speaking Scientific Truth to Power

Charles F. Kennel

This article takes up three issues associated with connecting knowledge with social action. First, we discuss some of the pitfalls of communication and perception that are always there when natural or social scientists present their versions of truth to decision-makers. Next we review how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deals with these pitfalls in producing its global assessments. While there is only one global assessment, there will be thousands helping local communities adapt to climate change. Each will need its own analogue of IPCC, its own 'knowledge action network'. Social Anthropology will play a key role in such networks, and so will have to devise its own ways to cope with the same issues that face climate scientists when they provide advice to action leaders. The way assessments are done at the regional and community levels, especially in the developing world, will necessarily differ from IPCC practice, but the considerations that brought the IPCC into being will still apply.

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Riding alone on the elevator

a class experiment in interdisciplinary education

Anna M. Frank, Rebecca Froese, Barbara C. Hof, Maike I. E. Scheffold, Felix Schreyer, Mathias Zeller and Simone Rödder

The ability to conduct interdisciplinary research is crucial to address complex real-world problems that require the collaboration of different scientific fields, with global warming being a case in point. To produce integrated climate-related knowledge, climate researchers should be trained early on to work across boundaries and gain an understanding of diverse disciplinary perspectives. This article argues for social breaching as a methodology to introduce students with a natural science background to the social sciences in the context of integrated climate sciences. The breach of a social norm presented here was to ask people whether the experimenter could ride on an elevator alone. We conclude that the approach is effective in letting students with a natural science background explore and experience the power of social reality, and is especially suitable for a small-sized introductory class.

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Changes in the Weather

A Sri Lankan Village Case Study

Mariella Marzano

As the impacts of climate change are expected to increase, there is growing concern in development contexts over how best to assist the poor and vulnerable to adapt to such changes whilst ensuring environmental and livelihood security. Climate variability is a persistent and progressively more worrying feature in the everyday lives of individuals and communities in rural areas around the world and there is a pressing need for comprehensive knowledge of the complex relationships between humans, and between them and their environment. Thus there is a growing movement towards bridging the gap between top-down decision-making and more grassroots approaches that encompass local knowledge and experiences. Drawing upon fieldwork in Sri Lanka, this article examines the potential of taking an indigenous knowledge research (IKR) approach to understanding local adaptation to climate change, specifically how local people are adapting their livelihood strategies to what they perceive to be increasing variability in weather patterns. It also explores the prospect of indigenous knowledge networks as vehicles for rapidly sharing information and building links between policy making and local reality.

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The “Mangle” of Human Practice

Museu do Amanhã’s Artistic Staging as a Socioscientific Narrative on Climate Change

Rodanthi Tzanelli

Praça Mauá, 1 – Centro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 20081-240, Brasil https://museudoamanha.org.br/en

We are accustomed to museums full of heritage displays from bygone eras, helpfully “seriated” for the visitor to tell a story of linear human progress toward an “end”: the great metanarrative of (Western) modernity. This is not so with the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow) in Rio de Janeiro. A joint public-private partner venture (by the City of Rio de Janeiro, the Roberto Marinho Foundation, Banco Santander, the British Gas Project, and the government of Brazil), the museum was conceptualized as a dark but openended narrative on climate change and the future of humanity.

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A Crystal Ball for Forests?

Analyzing the Social-Ecological Impacts of Forest Conservation and Management over the Long Term

Daniel C. Miller, Pushpendra Rana and Catherine Benson Wahlén

Citizens, governments, and donors are increasingly demanding better evidence on the effectiveness of development policies and programs. Efforts to ensure such accountability in the forest sector confront the challenge that the results may take years, even decades, to materialize, while forest-related interventions usually last only a short period. This article reviews the broad interdisciplinary literature assessing forest conservation and management impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, and poverty alleviation in developing countries. It emphasizes the importance of indicators and identifies disconnects between a rapidly growing body of research based on quasi-experimental designs and studies taking a more critical, ethnographic approach. The article also highlights a relative lack of attention on longer-term impacts in both of these areas of scholarship. We conclude by exploring research frontiers in the assessment of the impacts of forest-related interventions with long incubation periods, notably the development of predictive proxy indicators (PPIs).

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Israel’s Recent Unionizing Drives

The Broader Social Context

Jonathan Preminger

In light of the labor movement’s prominence in Israel’s history, the recent resurgence of unionizing activity after some 30 years of organized labor’s decline has caused much scholarly debate. However, scholars have paid insufficient attention to political ‘climate’, the wider social context, and the ‘battle of ideas’. This article therefore discusses the status of organized labor in media discourse, the rhetoric against the labor courts, liberalization in legal reasoning, and how organized labor is construed by the courts, as well as the conceptual differentiation between ‘workers’ and ‘the public’. It concludes that both organized labor and vestigial corporatist institutions are facing delegitimizing rhetoric and proposes that, for a fuller assessment of union revitalization, we should pay attention to labor struggles on three planes: the frontal struggle in the workplace, the institutional struggle to shore up the institutions crucial to collective labor relations, and the ideological struggle against the narrative of delegitimation.

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Silke Beck

This article explores how the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has dealt with growing public scrutiny of its workings. It reviews recent initiatives set up to respond to the Climategate controversy. An independent review of the IPCC undertaken by an international scientific umbrella body—InterAcademy Council—can be shown to have triggered one of the turning points in the debate, placing the focus of attention on the IPCC's transparency and accountability. However, the council's recommendations have been implemented by the IPCC in such a way that the issue of public trust is treated as one of effective communication. The article then explains how IPCC's responses to Climategate can be traced back to the linear model of expertise. The article concludes with a discussion why the challenge of producing policy-relevant knowledge under conditions of heightened public scrutiny also requires new forms of scientific appraisal aimed at wider publics.