Behind the curve: science and the politics of global warming
A few years ago Dan Sarewitz wrote an opinion article called ‘Does climate knowledge really matter?’ (Sarewitz 2011). Sarewitz outlined what he called ‘the plan’, the dominant framing since the late 1980s of the international response to climate change. He argued that ‘the plan’ contained two key elements: first, that (consensual) scientific knowledge about global climate change would lead to agreed political action to deal with it and, second, that this political action should consist of multi-laterally negotiated national targets and timetables for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In this framing, scientific knowledge about the Earth system was central: it would reveal by how much global emissions must reduce in order to disarm the risks and dangers of climate change by limiting the global temperature increase to no more than 2 °C above the nineteenth century level.
Although a caricature, Sarewitz’s description of ‘the plan’ opens up an imaginative space in which one...
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