ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF AFRICA, OCEANIA AND THE AMERICAS OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM

Anthropology, Weather & Climate Change

(P06)
Interdisciplinary dialogues or monologues across the scientific worlds of climate change.
Location British Museum - Sackler B
Date and Start Time 27 May, 2016 at 11:30
Sessions 5

Convenors

  • Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (University College London) email
  • Martin Skrydstrup (Copenhagen Business School) email
  • Tiago Ribeiro Duarte (University of Brasília) email

Mail All Convenors

Discussant Prof Mike Hulme

Short Abstract

This panel encourages dialogue between social scientists studying the making of scientific knowledge of climate and provides a platform where both social and natural scientists converse about the potential of anthropology for interdisciplinary collaboration and debate about climate change.

Long Abstract

Science is by no means the only, but arguably it is the most authoritative source of knowledge on climate change. How do scientists know what they know about weather and climate change? What expectations, beliefs, and practices constitute the situated work of climate scientists? In what ways do practitioners in different fields of science try to bridge the temporality of past, present, and future climate changes? What challenges do climate scientists face in their interactions with other social worlds? This panel aims to encourage dialogue between anthropologists and other social scientists who have addressed or are currently addressing these questions. Its focus and starting point are the worldview, knowledge, and practices of climate scientists. Social sciences research on the scientific worlds of climate change has developed sparsely for a few decades and the conveners would like to use this panel to start developing a more integrated community of knowledge. We particularly welcome participants who seek to expand the boundaries of this community to reach natural scientists through the use of anthropological methods. What are the novel approaches that cut across the conventional divisions between the social sciences and the natural sciences? What would constitute a truly interdisciplinary field of research into climate change? How could ethnographic description add to scientific descriptions of climate change? We are looking to organise a special discussion session where both social and natural scientists prepare joint presentations and reflect in situ about their collaboration in particular projects.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Dialogues with Climate Scientists

Author: Andrew Ainslie (University of Reading)  email

Short Abstract

This paper reviews key epistemic, intellectual, institutional and practical challenges experienced by an anthropologist working with climate scientists.

Long Abstract

Climate scientists may have moved centre stage as a new elite of the global scientific 'community', but they are required to engage far more concretely now with the worlds of government and private sector, explain in meticulous detail degrees of uncertainty and simplify complex ideas to aid policy-making.

In this paper, I reflect on two dialogues I have engaged in with climate scientists over the past five years through my involvement in international research programmes aimed at both 'excellent science' and development intervention in African climate science contexts.

Drawing on the work of Mosse (2005), I consider the 'mobilisation' work of research programmes, the composition of research teams and the levels of seniority of different researchers within these teams. I then explore the nature of commitments to interdisciplinary research collaboration, starting with explicit understandings of interdisciplinarity in projects documents and initial team meetings, and the cues that donors and fund managers do or do not provide in this regard. I review evidence for the degree of openness on the part of Principal Investigators and team members to engage with social science and indigenous/local knowledge communities. I consider some of the challenges of producing forms of 'useful' knowledge that can satisfy funders' and in-country partners' needs and still allow team members to publish in their respective (still largely) discipline-based journals. I conclude by suggesting that the reality of climate change makes carefully structured dialogues with natural scientists far more urgent than before.

Mosse, D. (2005) Cultivating Development. London: Pluto Press.

Embedded STS in climate research

Author: Simone Roedder (University of Hamburg)  email

Short Abstract

The paper discusses the set-up of an “embedded STS” project aimed at observing interdisciplinary in climate science whilst being affiliated with a climate research cluster and financed by a grant to climate science. I will discuss advantages as well as disadvantages of this practice of embeddedness.

Long Abstract

Hiring social scientists in research contexts is an increasingly common practice in fields such as the life sciences, nanotechnology and climate research. The employers expectations towards "our in house social scientist" include facilitation of inter- and transdisciplinary communication, exploration of political and ethical issues, lobbying for technological innovation and science outreach and education. In the case of climate change research, there is a noteworthy motivation from climate scientists themselves, being aware of the "post normal" (Funtowitz and Ravetz 1993) situation of the field and its associated "risks of communication" (Weingart et al. 2000). The social scientist him-/herself might imagine conducting ethnographic fieldwork, working in the tradition of laboratory studies to expose the social in scientific practice or to enhance respect for the workings of the social sciences building on his/her social science.

There is, however, as yet not much methodological reflection on this practice (exceptions include Krauss 2015, Viseu 2015, Doubleday and Viseu 2010). In my paper I describe how I have set up a project that observes interdisciplinary in climate research whilst being financed by a grant to climate science. I will discuss advantages as well as disadvantages of this practice of embeddedness. Questions to be addressed include: In how far is "embedded STS" different from traditional laboratory studies' observer roles, if at all? What are the challenges of being embedded, methodological and technical? And where does the move to embeddedness originate - what is the role of funders and science policy, research institutions, and social scientists themselves?

"From 'Climate Sceptic' to 'Dendro-Sociologist': Communicating Science in Action" (Part I)

Authors: Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (University College London)  email
Rob Wilson (University of St Andrews)  email

Short Abstract

I draw upon the evolution of my friendship with research subjects in order to theorise about the social factors enabling crossdisciplinary collaboration and public communication of science in action.

Long Abstract

In 2012, when I started a sociological study about a dendroclimatological laboratory, my research subjects regarded me with suspicion and they called me a "climate sceptic". Three years later, the same dendroclimatologists conceived my research as part of their efforts to communicate their science to the public and they often called me a "dendrosociologist". The methodology of my research, which I characterise as being based in friendships (TillmannHealy, 2003), is, I believe, one of the main reasons why my research subjects have granted credibility to my account, and hence, I have been able to explain to the public the process by which climate science is made. I will draw upon my personal research experience but I will also try to move away from them in order to theorise the reasons why friendships foster crossdisciplinary collaboration and public communicatioin of science in action. This presentation is the first part of two talks. The second one is a commentary by one of my research subjects about our friendship and research collaboration overall. References: TillmannHealy, Lisa M. "Friendship as Method." Qualitative Inquiry 9.5 (2003): 729749.

"The Chimp's side of the story" (Part II)

Authors: Rob Wilson (University of St Andrews)  email
Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (University College London)  email

Short Abstract

Goodall revolutionised the study of wild chimpanzees which undoubtedly had a positive impact on the conservation of these animals. Having now been a “chimp” for 3 years, I explore the potential benefits of such a study on my research and how it can be better communicated to non-specialised audiences.

Long Abstract

In her PhD, Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé used the analogy of Jane Goodall's long term study of chimpanzees to mirror her approach to studying the research of my lab, students and colleagues. As a twist to this analogy, the Chimp can finally have his say. While Meri will focus on trust and relationships and their import for "knowledge production", I will focus more on the potential impact of her immersive interaction with my group. Scientists (social and natural) now work in an environment where impact is especially important when trying to justify why certain studies should be funded and others not. Traditional forms of science communication (i.e. journal articles, conference presentations etc) generally target relatively small specialised audiences and alternative forms of outreach are needed to communicate science to the masses. As a subject, or case study if you will, of such a sociological study, I am intrigued to see whether Meri's research will provide an alternative conduit of science based communication to a new spectrum of the population. My talk will briefly explore whether Meri's work is purely a one-way accumulation of observational knowledge in that it explored the interactions of scientists to attain knowledge of past climate or whether we, as a "social group", will also gain from Meri's work in that our results will be communicated to a wider audience.

The fog of historical ecology: an interdisciplinary collaboration investigating vegetation change in relation to human impacts, global drivers and climate change projections in the Namib desert

Authors: Rick Rohde (University of Edinburgh)  email
Michael Timm Hoffman (University of Cape Town)  email

Short Abstract

Historical ecology is interdisciplinary by nature. Our presentation describes some of the processes that evolve when social and natural scientists work together. We use the example of our research into 100 years of vegetation change in Namibia in relation to human impacts, climate change and fog.

Long Abstract

Historical ecology research is by definition an interdisciplinary project between the social and natural sciences. Environments are fundamentally historical and untangling the interwoven effects of the history of human impacts and climate change on the ecological landscape is an important preoccupation of the discipline. This presentation describes an example of my collaboration as a social scientist with a friend and colleague in the biological sciences where we have endeavored to establish trends in environmental change in western Namibia during the last 150 years spanning the onset of colonialism into the present. Our methodology includes the use of repeat photography, historical research, ethnography, vegetation surveys, evaluation of climate records and the effects of environmental policy.

Presently we are investigating vegetation change in the Namib Desert in relation to the effects of global climate change on the large-scale weather patterns that govern the upwelling of the Benguela current, which in turn affects the fog dependent biota of this arid region. Historical trends give us insight into the causes of present conditions and allow for hypothetical speculation of future scenarios.

One of the key tensions that arises between the social and natural science view of any particular landscape resides in the negotiation between meaning and fact: as a social scientist I am conscious of the performative aspects of representing non-human nature, whereas my biological science colleague is a detached observer of nature aiming to establish empirical reality. This tension has perhaps been the most fruitful aspect of our professional relationship.

Interdisciplinary entanglements and dialogue within weather based index insurance

Authors: Helen Greatrex (Columbia University)  email
Rahel Diro  email
Susana Aga Alo (University of Reading)  email

Short Abstract

Weather based index insurance has recently emerged as an important tool that can allow smallholders to manage climate risk and increase productivity. This talk discusses the highly interdisciplinary nature of index insurance and climate risk perception, from individual farmers to program and policy.

Long Abstract

Weather based index insurance (WBII) has recently emerged as an important tool that can allow smallholder farmers to manage climate risk and increase productivity. Rather than directly insuring losses, payouts are triggered when an index - such as wind speed or an amount of rain during a certain window of time - falls above or below a pre-specified threshold.

WBII is inherently interdisciplinary at every scale. For individual farmers, the perception of climate risk and the decision to purchase insurance is embedded in a complex and shifting context of personality, financial liquidity, social equity, trust, power, institutions, culture and history. Failing to take these multiple drivers into account can often lead to unintended consequences or poor links with developmental outcomes. Equally at a programme level, WBII programmes that have scaled have often included meaningful input from economists, remote sensing experts, meteorologists, social scientists, index designers, local insurers, international reinsurers, NGOs and donors. We are still learning to speak the same language and these are often several different (and occasionally contradictory) visions of success within a single project.

In this paper, we present examples to show the benefits and challenges of including interdisciplinary and inter-scale dialogue within WBII, including

-How participatory insurance design using historical weather data and climate perceptions allowed African smallholders a voice in an international design process, significantly increasing sales and enabling insurance to reach over 25,000 farmers.

-How qualitative sociological research on gender and insurance in Ghana is unlocking new opportunities for insurance and development.

Towards an Anthropology of Antarctic Science in the Age of Anthropogenic Climate Change

Author: Richard Vokes (University of Western Australia)  email

Short Abstract

Antarctica has always been good to 'think with'. From the time that Aristotle first postulated the existence of a great 'Southern Land' onwards, the continent has been used to support all manner of theories and ideas regarding the state of the planet, and the course of its potential futures.

Long Abstract

Antarctica has always been good to 'think with'. From the time that Aristotle first postulated the existence of a great 'Southern Land' onwards, the continent has been used to support all manner of theories and ideas regarding the state of the planet, and the course of its potential futures. In recent years, Antarctica, come to be seen - both within the scientific community, and among the general public - as perhaps the key barometer of anthropogenic climate change, and of its likely effects. Conversely, the continent, and the scientific research that is done there, have also come to occupy a central position within some of the main arguments forwarded by 'climate change sceptics'.

This paper, which is part of a wider anthropological project on Antarctica's 'cultures of science', traces how and why the southern continent came to occupy such a central role within our understanding of anthropogenic climate change: how it came to be seen both as a primary laboratory for climate change research, and as a key battleground for climate change skepticism. It also looks at what effects this has had upon contemporary scientific activities in Antarctica. In particular, it looks at how the new context has led not only to new forms of inter-disciplinarity within Antarctica science, but also to an end to Antarctic 'exceptionalism' (whereby scientific practice on the continent was long regarded as essentially different to all forms of science done elsewhere). Finally, it has also stimulated a new interest among Antarctic scientists in exposing their activities to scrutiny by social scientist, including anthropologists.

How paleoceanographers and paleo-modellers came to collaborate effectively

Author: Tiago Ribeiro Duarte (University of Brasília)  email

Short Abstract

This paper argues that paleoceanographers and paleo-modellers, experts who have distinct skill-sets, have managed to collaborate and communicate effectively through the acquisition of parts of each other´s technical language. I illustrate how this process took place with interview and observational data.

Long Abstract

Paleoceanographers use archives found in the oceans, such as marine sediments and corals, to reconstruct past oceans and past climate. They are empirically-oriented scientists and spend most of their time collecting samples in the field, analysing them in the lab, and interpreting the results. Paleo-modellers, on the other hand, are not involved with data production. They seek to model past climates on computer models. Their research activities include writing models' codes, developing equations that synthesise climatic processes, running their models, and debugging them. These two groups of scientists have very different skills sets but have been increasingly collaborating and producing knowledge together.

This paper argues that paleoceanographers and paleo-modellers have managed to collaborate and communicate effectively through the acquisition of parts of each other´s technical language. Although there are still some misunderstandings in their interactions, they have successfully worked together in a large number of projects. These communities have made deliberate efforts to bridge the communicative gaps between them by promoting Summer Schools, joint Masters Courses, and shared PhD supervisions. Individual members of these domains have also made efforts to learn each other´s technical languages through attending conferences and through informal conversations. I illustrate how this process took place with interview and observational data.

Investigating shifts in climate research: The changing role of climate's past

Author: Dania Achermann (Aarhus University, Denmark)  email

Short Abstract

In the 20th century the way climate has been researched shifted from a geographical, human-related approach to a physical and computer-based science. This paper will explore the role of the reconstruction of past climates within these changes.

Long Abstract

In the 20th century the way climate was researched underwent radical changes. From the 19th century on, climatology had been a field within geography, and climate was associated with specific places and related to human sensation. This traditional concept was then challenged by a new notion of climate. From the mid-20th century on, a new generation of climate scientists, typically trained in meteorology or physics, depicted climate as a physical-mathematical and global variable, and began to use computer models as a tool to investigate climate. Climate modelling has fundamentally changed the production of climate knowledge and influenced the perception and interest in climate.

In my contribution I will raise the question of how the role of past climates changed within these developments. Traditional climatologists (often trained in geography and meteorology) considered the reconstruction of past climates to be of crucial importance for the understanding of the climate system. However, from around the 1960s on, they felt confronted with an increasing marginalization of their historical work by the growing epistemic authority of the physics-based climate models. At the same time, past climates gained enormous importance in a different field that blossomed into a fundamental pillar of modern computer-based climate science: the ice core research carried out by glaciologists and physicist. Although also interested in the climate's past they worked with different questions, methods, data and scales. This paper will inquire the interdependence of these different approaches with the development of a modern climate science.

Using participatory tools to analyse historical climate information and identify crop, livestock and livelihood options with smallholder farmers: the PICSA approach

Authors: Graham Clarkson (University of Reading)  email
Francis Torgbor (African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Ghana)  email
Peter Dorward (University of Reading)  email

Short Abstract

Working with climate scientists, social scientists and agricultural practitioners, the PICSA approach uses participatory tools to jointly analyse historical climate information with smallholder farmers and to identify crop, livestock and livelihood options that are best suited to their local climate.

Long Abstract

Smallholder farmers are key to food security in sub-Saharan Africa where two thirds of the population depends on small-scale farming as their main source of food and income. Critical farming and household decisions depend upon how much rain falls, when the season starts, the length of the season and the likelihood and timing of dry spells; all of which vary considerably from year to year.

The Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA) approach involves agricultural extension staff working with groups of farmers ahead of the agricultural season to firstly analyse historical climate information and use participatory tools to develop and choose crop, livestock and livelihood options best suited to individual farmers' circumstances and the local climate. Farmers also use participatory tools to plan the implementation of options that they have selected for the next season. Then soon before and during the season, extension staff and farmers consider the practical implications of seasonal and short-term forecasts on the plans farmers have made.

The approach brings together climate scientists from National Meteorological Services, social scientists and agricultural practitioners to develop participatory tools that are useful and usable for smallholder farmers in their planning and decision making. PICSA is currently being scaled out in Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi and this paper will outline some of the initial results from monitoring and evaluation of work with more than 5000 farmers in 10 districts in the north of Ghana.

Making weather work: climate science, situated knowledge and coffee growers in South India

Author: Anshu Ogra (Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India)  email

Short Abstract

Using the case study of monsoons and coffee growers in South India the work argues that climate change adaptation strategies need to integrate the predictive capacity of abstract numbers with non-linear speculation of economic and political markets that inform situated experience of rainfall.

Long Abstract

In this paper I discuss three different perspectives that attempt to explain a single weather event that occurs over a particular ecological-geographical patch. The weather event been looked at is the South-West monsoons and the defined ecological-geographical patch in focus is the coffee plantation belt that runs across a portion of the Western Ghats region in Southern India. The three different groups whose perspectives about monsoonal impacts in the tropical evergreen forests of the Western Ghats is being looked at are: a) coffee planters, b) climatologists and meteorologists and c) weather insurance assessors. The paper argues that in case of climate change adaptation strategies there is a need to integrate the natural sciences and the social sciences; meteorology and sociology; the predictive capacity of abstract numbers and the non-linear speculation of economic and political markets and finally why adaptation strategies must help us get the theory laden social world to negotiate with hypothetico-deductive reasoning for policy purposes. The field work was carried out over a period of 7 months from 2011 to 2015.

Small island modelisation: an opportunity for dialogue between local and scientific knowledge?

Authors: Charlotte Cabasse Mazel (UC Berkeley)  email
Neil Davies (UC Berkeley - Moorea)  email

Short Abstract

Small islands are very vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change and the necessity to improve adaptation and resilience is a shared concern among scientists and local population. In heuristic fashion, this paper reflects on the potential of data science methods as a new “place” for discussion.

Long Abstract

Small islands are very vulnerable to adverse effects of climate change, which consequences impact marine and terrestrial biodiversity, human health, habitat and activities. Despite evidences of impacts in situ, epistemological tensions between scientists and local populations often slow down mitigation and adaptation processes.

Following an symmetrical anthropology approach drawing from Michel Callon (1986) the co-authors (a biologist and a human geographer) have observed that the necessity to improve adaptation and resilience of local socio-ecological systems is a shared concern among scientists and local population, who both care deeply about local biodiversity, environmental and cultural heritage, albeit not in the same way.

In an heuristic fashion, this paper wants to reflect on the potential of data science methods in environment modelisation as a new "place" both for preservation (of local and scientific knowledge), negotiation (of the different form of knowledge) and decision making (in a disaster mitigation perspective). The paper will focus on the ongoing development of two modelisation efforts conducted on and about the Polynesian Island of Moorea: 1. a proof of concept, coordinated through the new Moorea Ecostation Center for Advanced Studies to build a virtual representation of Moorea - the Moorea Island Digital Ecosystem Avatar. 2. The Ethnocode project which seeks to preserve biological and linguistic diversity by strengthening local capacities to transmit traditional knowledge in a common pedagogic framework.

Building on the concepts of epistemic cultures (Knorr Cetina, 2009) and attachment (Latour, 1999; Hache, 2011), we will discuss the opportunities, tensions and questions that arose from these projects.

A dialogue between forms of knowledge in the interpretation and perception of climate within indigenous communities in the state of Sonora, Mexico

Authors: Arthur Murphy (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)  email
Angelina Martinez-Yrizar (Instituto de Ecologia, UNAM)  email
Diana Luque (Centro de Investigación en Alimentación y Desarrollo)  email
Alberto Burquez (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico)  email

Short Abstract

The State of Sonora in North West Mexico is home to seven indigenous groups (Cucapá, Seri, Yaqui, Mayo, Pápago, Pima, and Guarijío). An interdisciplinary, intercultural group generated a socio-environmental diagnosis of conditions within the various territories

Long Abstract

The environmental crisis is linked to industrial capitalism and its epistemological hegemony. In an effort to break through this hegemony it has been proposed that a dialogue be opened between disciplines, other forms of knowledge, and ways of interpreting the environment and climate. The State of Sonora in North West Mexico is home to seven indigenous groups (Cucapá, Seri, Yaqui, Mayo, Pápago, Pima, and Guarijío). An interdisciplinary, intercultural group was organized to generate a socio-environmental diagnosis of conditions within their territories. The research used various instruments and methods: participant observation, structured interviews, a survey of biodiversity, digitalization of agricultural communities and maps developed with the help of community leaders. The results demonstrated a consistent and generalized view of changes in the environment flowing from a perceived hydrological crisis. Over 90% of respondents indicated said the region is hotter with less rain than in the past. Climatologists report no statistical change in the amount of rainfall since the 1950s. Regionally there is a significant increase in winter temperature and in the number of frost free days. Models indicate that future rainfall will be more varied with longer periods between precipitation events, but that rains will be more intense. However average total rainfall will not vary significantly. We conclude that local biocultural knowledge provides an opportunity to understand local responses to climate change and help develop evaluation tools based on local epistemologies, with the potential to more adequately provide strategies for amelioration and mitigation.

Climate and Cognition

Author: Lynne Turner (University of Southern Queensland)  email

Short Abstract

This work hopes to improve our collective understanding of the role of worldviews, values, attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and experience, heuristics, emotion and other cognitive processes in delivering evidence based public policy to address climate change.

Long Abstract

This presentation aims to bring together important findings from the fields of cognitive science and behavioural economics and considers their implications for climate change and public policy. Climate data plays a central role in the assessment of mitigation and adaptation actions and the development of evidence based public policy. Climate data is being used to identify the path ahead, but not without significant challenges. Climate data is often poorly understood by those it is intended to assist. Climate data has been used to justify particular worldviews, rather than to inform them. Climate data generates surprisingly emotional responses and has become personal with the credibility and reliability of climate data and the integrity of climate scientists called into question. With petabytes of climate data worldwide (mostly satellite data and climate modelling data), it is important to consider how climate data can be best used and managed to inform effective decisions.

The nature of the challenges of a changing climate are complex, decadal and multidisciplinary and require concerted, collaborative and sustained effort to address them. Despite the compelling and urgent case for action, cognitive as well as political challenges arise when dealing with these issues. Effective and enduring policy responses have been limited and not broadly supported. This presentation will provide insight into 'why' and in so doing will also contribute to a broader effort to construct a social psychology of climate change.

Cycles, irregular periods and the unpredictable vs linear extrapolation, prediction and control: are there social and psychological issues in the construction of climate knowledge?

Author: Peter Taylor (Ethos Consultancy)  email

Short Abstract

As a natural scientist working in policy fields relevant to climate change: e.g energy strategies, resilient systems and environmental impacts, the author invites social anthropologists to consider a potential major sociological bias in methodologies used to construct climate science knowledge.

Long Abstract

The author has worked as consultant ecologist in several climate-related policy fields - having advised government agencies (Countryside Agency, DTI) and major NGOs (National Trust) on future impacts of climate change, including the impact of mitigation strategies. In 2005, he published a controversial critique 'Chill: a reassessment of global warming theory' which challenged the climate modelling community on the absence of natural cycles in their projections. He has been consulted on these issues by major banking and investment houses and Chill was reviewed in the paleo-climate journal, The Holocene, as recommended reading to set beside the output of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. That book ended with 'Reflections from Anthropology' - based upon the author's brief exposure to linguistic anthropology under Edwin Ardener at Oxford University's Institute of Social Anthropology. In that final chapter aspects of computer modelling of future climate change were challenged in that cycles and their irregular periods, a main field of paleo-climatology, had been left out. The predictive methodologies of virtual reality models required more precision than nature could provide. The author would like to outline this critique to professional anthropologists and suggests that future climate science would benefit from the attention of critical sociology.

A Comparison of Social Science Research on Paleoclimatology.

Authors: Meritxell Ramírez-i-Ollé (University College London)  email
Martin Skrydstrup (Copenhagen Business School)  email
Tiago Ribeiro Duarte (University of Brasília)  email

Short Abstract

Panellists compare and draw preliminary conclusions about their respective social science research on sub-disciplines of paleoclimatology

Long Abstract

Due to the scientific and social credibility given to climate forecasting and modelling and to atmospheric physics, social scientists have just started to study scientific disciplines that produce knowledge on past climates. The three panelists have conducted social science research on different disciplines of paleoclimatology. Dr Ramírez-i-Ollé has studied a dendroclimatology laboratory and project; Dr Skrydstrup carried out an ethnography of an ice-core expedition; and Dr Duarte has studied paleoceanographers and their interactions with paleomodellers. They will present preliminary conclusions of their comparison of research into paleoclimatology in terms of three elements among others: a) the role of fieldwork in knowledge production; b) strategies for bridging the temporality of past, present, and future climate; c) collaboration with other scientific communities.

Human Ecological Implications of Climate Change in the Himalaya: Investigating Opportunities for Adaptation in the Kaligandaki Basin, Nepal

Author: Rishikesh Pandey (Pokhara University)  email

Short Abstract

Research examines the impacts of climate change and opportunities for adaptation in the Himalaya using a holistic approach. The climate sensitive social-ecosystems are exposed to and affected by both climatic stressors, communities’ adaptation efforts are limited so the social-ecosystems are vulnerable

Long Abstract

This research examines the implications of climate change on the social-ecosystems of the Kaligandaki Basin, Nepali Himalaya using a holistic approach of explaining human-environmental interaction and integrated methodologies of climate science and social sciences. The research has important implications for integrated adaptation policy in Nepal. Primary data on impacts and adaptation responses were collected through face-to-face interviews with household heads from 360 households, 24 focus group discussions, 7 historical timeline calendars, 75 key informant interviews, and 9 crop calendar sketches. The findings reveal that the social-ecological systems of the Himalaya are highly sensitive to both climatic and non-climatic stressors and are increasingly exposed to climate change. The changing climate has negatively impacted the social-ecological systems of the basin. Consequently, many local communities are trapped in a situation of multiple livelihood constraints associated with ecological, economic, social and political environments. To reduce the negative implications of change, people are trying to adopt various strategies and the communities demonstrate significant adaptation knowledge. However such knowledge is not sufficiently translated into adaptation actions and many households are losing hope of agricultural adaptation. The poor quality of livelihood capitals; increasing climate change impacts; and poor adoption of adaptation strategies together have significant negative implications for local food and livelihood security. Consequently, the social-ecosystem of the Kaligandaki Basin is vulnerable that requires integrated public policy response with adoption of the strategy that supports the most vulnerable social-ecosystem the first.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.