Escaping the Double Bind: From the Management of Uncertainty toward Integrated Climate Research
Climate change has made for a spectacular career, culminating in the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2007 awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore. But there has been a price to pay for establishing an ongoing master narrative based on scientifi c consensus, tipping points, and thresholds; so-called climate skeptics have hijacked the basic scientifi c concepts of uncertainty and skepticism and turned them into an argument against the implementation of climate politics. As a consequence, climate science has increasingly become politicized; the close vicinity of climate research and politics has raised suspicion concerning the objectivity and neutrality of science. Controversies surrounding the iconic hockey stick curve, the hacked e-mails from climate scientists (Climategate), and errors in the IPCC report (Himalayagate) have not helped. Under pressure, climate science has deployed diverse strategies to regain public trust, such as the inclusion of uncertainty into the working reports of the IPCC and in public communication. But there is more to politicization and uncertainty than a management problem; the debate about their role in the climate debate has left its traces in climate science and raised new questions: how do climate scientists deal with this permanent double bind of maintaining fi delity to scientifi c standards, while the object of their research is politically charged? If the linear model of science speaking truth to power is a failed conception of science communication, then what are the alternatives? Using the example of climate science in Hamburg, this chapter presents an ethnographic account of the concepts and strategies deployed by a group of scientists who actively face the challenges imposed by this double bind.