‘While most aspects on the science of climate and climate change are not controversial, at least among the majority of active scientists in the field, the issue is becoming increasingly emotive in the public debate and gradually so in the political community. The main reason to this are the potential consequences for the world economy and the society at large of major reductions in the use of fossil fuels as this is seen as the main culprit behind an anticipated climate warming. [...] These political and economical aspects have led to a polarization of the political debate that indirectly has affected the science of climate change.’
There is some clarification necessary here.
One, the science itself has become politicized (political), i.e. as per internal science politics. The is evident in the current IPCC fiasco.
Two the issue of climate change has extended beyond science and has become Political, i.e. it is a Political issue as much as it is a scientific issue.
Hans von Storch in his posting Adaptation and Mitigation states ‘we have to consider adaptation to climate change, not instead of, but parallel to mitigation of climate change. The goal is to limit the accumulation of greenhouse gases to “only” a doubling (or any other achievable significant reduction) and to prepare societies and ecosystems to adapt to unavoidable future changes.’ This, of course, is a Political (as opposed to political) decision.
As it is Political, it is somewhat of a subjective expression of personal values. In the following I would like to present the values of the sample of scientists from the survey CliSci 2008.
First, what do scientists favor as the best option, mitigation or adaptation?
As we can see, mitigation is the favored path of action, but not by much. A considerable number of scientists offer adaptation as the chosen course. The construction of this question does however prohibit the respondent from suggesting a combination of both. However, a value of 4 could be considered to reflect a suggestion of 50%-50%, the rest can be interpreted as various mixes. I think it would be safe to say that a considerable number of scientists would agree with Hans von Storch.
The means of achieving adaptation or mitigation would seem to me to be Political. (Climate change is an established reality according to both Lennart Bengtsson and Hans von Storch. Establishing the reality should, in ideal circumstances, be the end product of climate science as we know it. Of course, in round two there would be a need for determining viable means for mitigation and adaptation - engineering and ecology/sociology/anthropology, but that’s another story)
In the long run, Politics, not science , should be the main actor (with the support of objective science) in determining the optimal way of mitigating, or adapting to, climate change. But as the next set of figures show, this is not as climate scientists, at least those who participated in the survey, see things. For both adaptation and mitigation, the favored strategy is to ‘leave it to science’ at least for the most part, to provide the solution.
Let’s build a technocracy - from political to Political!
This also raises questions concerning Ravitz’s notion of post normal science and the prospect of extended peer review. Obviously, the extension of the peer review should remain in science according to the scientists, questioning the use and liberating effect of the ‘blogosphere’. According to the data, scientists think a significant priority should be given to scientific expertise.
This also raises some other issues concerning the concept of post normal science(I do not see it as a theory - a theory is composed of systematic statements that explain something, a concept is a theme or the likes). Regardless, it is defined as conditions of high risk and high uncertainty. High risk to human well being alone, or could it include, for example, a landscape? And high uncertainty in the (methods of the) science or high uncertainty in the nature of the risk, or both? The high uncertainty in the science simply means we do not know. This of course could refer to many aspects of many disciplines. But the high risk. Is this aggregated risk - risk at a global level? Could it be individual risk - i.e. risk to individual persons? If so, does not most of medical research, for example, cancer research, constitute a case of post normal science, high risk that the person so inflicted will die, high uncertainty as to cause and treatment? Now bare in mind that medicine works mostly ‘analog’, (microscopes, wet benches, repeatability) not digital simulations (model) and fairy tales (ok, scenarios). Is the risk in post normal science in some ways associated with the inherent risk of the methods of the science? If that was the case, then wouldn’t the recent adventures at the CERN accelerator constitute a short lived episode of post normal science? The risks, according to dirge-media, could have been full scale Armageddon, the uncertainty was in the outcome of the experiment. Is it possible that one aspect of post normal science has to do with who furnishes the risk to the public? Could it be that post normal science could be characterized as the womb of the Political scientist activist, or perhaps the Political scientist activist is the womb of post normal science - post normal science is the social construction of the Political scientists activist?