Thursday, August 25, 2016

Richard Tol on climate policy

As Paul Matthews pointed out in the comments section of a previous thread,  Richard Tol has a new paper, called The Structure of the Climate Debate. In it he argues for a specific climate policy (low but rising carbon tax); celebrates the Paris agreement for handing back the responsibility to nation states; and discussing possible reasons for the lack of progress in climate policy over the past two decades.

The paper is well written and I suggest you read it in full. I will restrict myself to a few comments for now. These comments relate to the proposed carbon tax and the reasons for the lack of progress.

Monday, August 22, 2016

What Future for Science?

Dan Sarewitz has written a thought provoking piece for The New Atlantis, "Saving Science". He argues that science has received massively increased funding during the Cold War until today, but has lost its innovative role in solving problems for society. He sees the reason for this in science being left to itself, operating under a mandate that is not responsive to societal demands. Much research is fraudulent, not replicable, or irrelevant.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Hottest summer - what does this tell us?

The Guardian has a page 3 article today on reports that July 2016 was the hottest July ever. It is a good illustration of how information from the physical sciences is used to argue for urgent climate policy measures. It is a useful reminder of how the dominant framing of climate change plays out in everyday media communications. Readers of Klimazwiebel will know that I am no fan of this kind of approach, in fact none of the Klimazwiebel editors is.

So what does the article say, and why is it problematic to expect any positive policy effects based on reporting like this?

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Climate change as a wicked social problem

I have a short piece in Nature Geoscience with the title 'Climate change as a wicked social problem'. Here is the link

I argue that climate change has been defined as a problem with a solution, following the successful example of the ozone layer. Applying the conceptual pair of tame and wicked problems I make the case that whereas ozone protection can be seen as a tame problem (which has a clearly specified solution), climate change cannot. It is a classical wicked problem that only can be managed better or worse. But influential actors who applied the same logic from ozone to climate were ignorant of social science research that could have prevented this colossal error of framing. This framing error has led to the belief that scientific consensus drives policy and that any distraction from 'the science' is the reason for a lack of progress.

It is high time the social sciences (not only economics, who have been the only visible social science discipline in the IPCC) start engaging with the issue of climate change on their own terms. All too often they have been defining the issue of climate change in terms of climate science, forgetting the unique contributions they can make.