State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School

Scientific Realism and Climate Change: Seminar with Martin Skrydstrup

skyostrup1Martin Skrydstrup is looking at science from a different perspective. By studying the scientific process anthropologically, he hopes to help reduce public confusion and mistrust around Climate Change science.

On March 26th, Dr. Skrydstrup, with the Waterworlds program of the Department of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen, presented his work on ‘Doing Ethnography on Cosmoscience after the Science Wars’ as part of the Columbia Water Center Seminar Series.

The Waterworlds program focuses on water-related natural disasters and the social resilience of local communities; rising seas, drying lands and melting ice.  His currently ongoing study looks at not the results of scientific investigation, but the process of reaching those results.

Using anthropological techniques, Skrydstrup is studying one project in depth: North Greenland Eemian Ice Drilling, or NEEM.  This group of engineers and scientists is studying ice core samples dating from a time when the Earth’s temperature was 5 degrees warmer than it is now, which is expected to provide information that could help predict the affects of climate change.

In addition to doing this basic physical research, the group is involved in the ethnographic mapping of each step of the process, from taking the core samples to making climate change predictions.  This is intended to promote ‘Scientific Realism’, which specifies the links between science, politics and nature, rather than pretending that these links don’t exist.

The work raises questions about what scientific questions are asked, how the questions are answered, what social and technological relationships are present in the process, and how the results are framed.  The ultimate intention is to produce Climate Change science that can be trusted as legitimate by the public at large.

Learn more about the NEEM study here.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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