Where The Science Meets The Social: The UK’s Wettest Summer On Record

The rain it raineth every day; but, strange as this British ‘Summer’ weather feels, we know a lot about what’s triggered the deluge. We can debate the extent of global warming, but the big issue is how to ensure it doesn’t carry on. This is where conventional science gives way to understandings of human behaviour. Hearts and minds will help us meet the challenges of climate change, not simply technology.

As everyone keeps telling us, these are uncertain times. You don’t have to have been in the floods to have felt in some way their effects….
But understanding it all is a bit of a challenge. Is it true that climate change is well and truly upon us? (I suspect, on the whole the answer is Yes) Is there anything we can do about it? (Ditto.)
Knowing what we know
And do we need to know more? I’d say Yes again, but it’s a qualified Yes.
We already know a lot; how to reduce and recycle waste, how to travel carbon-lightly, how to share resources for food, water and other essential commodities. What we sometimes don’t know is how to put that ‘knowledge’ into practice.

Taking evidence to policy
The challenges of interpreting the environmental phenomena currently around us are being taken up by some of the brightest natural scientists. Their evidence is and will continue to be both good and available for everyone to consider for themselves.
Now we must move also to include, in a quite fundamental way, the social sciences and the understandings they bring. Best progress towards confronting climate and other fears needs to embrace how people – people of all sorts, not ‘just’ those already committed to doing something, but everyone else as well – feel in their hearts, as well as how in their heads they understand.
Hearts and minds in context
Science in the service of coping with climate change is first and foremost a tool towards sensible actions and policies. It will do
that science no harm at all if it has two conjoined wings, the natural and the social, bringing together the evidence required to make action happen.
This is a dialogue in which everyone can play their part. The challenge is to articulate and explore what best makes people get engaged, positively and in a meaningful way……

A version of this article was first posted on Climatespace on 27 July 2007.


Posted on July 29, 2007, in Knowledge Ecology And Economy, Sustainability As If People Mattered. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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