Battle for Science ~ Science, Politics of Climate Change at the RCA London

September 9, 2007 at 1:33 pm | Posted in BAS, Battle of Ideas, British Antarctic Survey, Climate change, Climate politics, Climate science, GKSS Research Centre, Institute of Ideas, London, Politics, RCA, Royal College of Art, Science, Science Museum, Tyndall Centre, University of East Anglia, University of Hamburg | Leave a comment

The Battle of Ideas takes place at the Royal College of Art, London on Saturday 27 and Sunday 28 October 2007.

This is a two-day festival of high-level, thought-provoking debate organised by the Institute of Ideas and hosted by the Royal College of Art.

The session that caught my eye is The science and politics of climate change on Sunday morning. I recognise Mike Hulme and Chris Rapley, and have read their articles listed below, and heard them live or on BBC Radio 4, along with Hans von Storch (e.g. the TODAY programme’s Climate Change Panel recorded on 6 July 2006); though Tony Gilland’s name is not familiar to me:

The science and politics of climate change

Sunday 11.00am until 12.30pm Lecture Theatre 1 Battle for Science

The Battle for Science will be introduced by Catherine Ewart, Head of Corporate Affairs, Science and Technology Facilities Council.

‘Climate Change is our moon landing.’ So said Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society, at the end of 2006. According to Rees the task of avoiding catastrophic climate change should be an inspiring and galvanising challenge for the scientists of today and tomorrow. In February 2007, at the press launch of the Summary for Policy Makers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 4th report on climate change, we were told that the human impact on the climate is ‘unequivocal’ and that urgent action is needed.

The issue of the negative effects of climate change is rarely out of the media and is increasingly portrayed in alarming terms. Politicians of all persuasions attest to the seriousness of the situation and are competing to present their green credentials, alongside business, local government and pretty much every major public organisation.

But what does science tell us about how we should respond to climate change? Are scientists becoming involved in campaigning for particular political responses, and, if so, is this a good or bad thing? Is the time for debate really over, or are political choices being obscured by talk of scientific consensus? Are the threats so great and the science so certain that there really is only one course of action?



Produced by

Tony Gilland
science and society director, Institute of Ideas

Recommended readings

The appliance of science
If scientists want to remain listened to, to bear influence on policy, they must recognise the social limits of their truth seeking and reveal fully the values and beliefs they bring to their scientific activity.
Mike Hulme, Society Guardian, 13 March 2007

Earth is too crowded for Utopia
If the size of the human “footprint” is taken to be a serious problem then a rational view would be that along with a raft of measures to reduce the footprint per person, the issue of population management must be addressed.
Professor Chris Rapley, BBC News, 5 January 2006

How global warming research is creating climate of fear
Science is deteriorating into a repair shop for conventional, politically opportune scientific claims. Not only does science become impotent; it also loses its ability to objectively inform the public.
Hans von Storch and Nico Stehr, Der Spiegel, 23 January 2005

The dangers of climate change
Outgoing Director of the British Antarctic Survey, Professor Chris Rapley, discusses the scientific evidence linking warming in the Antarctic peninsula to human activity
Professor Chris Rapley, Global Public Media, 22 June 2005

Chaotic world of climate truth
To state the climate change will be “catastrophic” hides a cascade of value-laden assumptions which do not emerge from from empirical or theoretical science
Mike Hulme, BBC News, 3 November 2006

recommended by spiked

Let the Puritans protest
Brendan O’Neill, 29 July 2007

Digging up the roots of the IPCC
Tony Gilland, 31 May 2007

The bear necessities of climate change politics
Rob Lyons, 15 March 2007

Now playing: Led Zeppelin – The Battle of Evermore
via FoxyTunes


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