This post is about me relating papers and articles I’ve found about 2009 realities of CC paradigms to 1962 Kuhn theory. I didn’t want to include it in the last post, so I could keep my relation of Kuhn’s paradigms to CC separate to ‘now’ information.
First up, a Dec 2008 paper from the Potsdam Institute of Climate Research by Fussal, called Adaptation to climate change: A new paradigm for action or just old wine in new skins? (http://www.pik-potsdam.de/~fuessel/download/resil08_final.pdf). What he has to say is that adaptation and mitigation, as courses of action, are both necessary and important to governmental planning, but quite different from each other. Adaptation covers many measures already in existence and these mainly relate to risk and resource management methodology. However, Fussal argues that adaptation methodology is not simply mitigation methodology extended (or substituted), but changed and a new ‘paradigm’. This is because it shows signs of new methodologies, new ethical considerations, new opportunities for action and new stakeholders. These new facets come about because of the increased uncertainty and hazards involved in adaptation research.
For the greatest efficacy of new research, he recommends a lot of collaboration between scientists, communicators, policymakers, local people and so on. Suggested methods are: learning through forums, dialogues with stakeholders, mobilising public/private resources and serious efforts to look at the disparity between those responsible for/affected by CC.
Another idea of a paradigm shift I found was in a May 2009 article called Stalking the Emerging Climate Change Paradigm (http://www.worldwildlife.org/climate/blog/entry11.html), by John Matthews, who writes a Climate Change blog for the World Wildlife Foundation. He doesn’t speak of any adaptation/mitigation paradigms, but rather a restoration/preservation dichotomy. Restoration is when we try to take a degraded environment back to previous condition, and preservation is when we try to protect an area/species. Both have a similar long term goal but the short term implementation looks very different. John says that CC threatens both approaches because of our [old] view of ecosystems as ‘stable and static’.
He now believes we should be tracking the ‘new climate’ (a changing, worsening one), or better still, a paradigm that focuses on what we can or can’t control: whether…
…‘we should facilitate or resist climate-driven shifts. We can’t alter when warm temperatures arrive in winter and the onset of spring or the frequency of droughts. But we buffer places and species to some degree from very fast rates of change. Give them more space to move around. Help cities and farmers use water resources more efficiently. Ultimately, we need to think carefully about the kinds of ecosystem change we can manage to influence and those we must simply become accustomed to.’
He leaves a resolution of the article open though, simply by saying that this paradigm and its methodology are currently unclear (although being an aim).
Next: an old paper with an interesting link to another issue I’ve been thinking about. I’ll explain the paper first then what I feel it relates to. Back in 1996, Schneider and Root published a paper called Ecological implications of climate include surprises, in Biodiversity and Conservation (http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/42439/1/10531_2004_Article_BF00052720.pdf). They proposed that a new paradigm had emerged from research called ‘Strategic Cyclical Scaling’ (SCS), that focused on the need to anticipate ‘extreme events or surprises’. These outlier events, which are naturally less predictable, still need to have probabilities assigned to them so that government and emergency services can prepare. However, because of the wide range of experts they could see that would need to be involved, Schneider and Root saw that each set of experts work with very different scales within their work. Ecologists deal with differences and uncertainties of +/- 20m. Climatologists can work with +/- 200km.
They propose that proper interdisciplinary cooperation can reduce the impact these severe events will have on humans. Firstly, I find this interesting because of the many ways CC extends itself into so many disciplines and this is an example of forced cooperation (work-wise, not humans being nice-wise). Secondly, this is the early theoretical version of a very tangible issue raised at the Hot Air Symposium: government/councils needing to predict the unpredictable, as well as wanting more, and more accurate information to do so. This interdisciplinary approach includes scale and risk facets as wished for by policymakers. I know it’s a bit old now, because it’s obvious that that’s what councils/gov want and need, I just thought it was interesting that the researchers saw this cooperation as a paradigm shift.
Lastly, a 2008 paper from Leo Dobes at the Australian National University in Canberra (http://www.crawford.anu.edu.au/pdf/staff/leo_dobes/dobes_agenda_15_3.pdf), called Getting Real about Adapting to Climate Change: Using ‘Real Options’ to Address the Uncertainties. Mr Dobes, who doesn’t deny anthropogenic CC but doesn’t necessarily support it, is an associate professor from the faculty of Economics and Government, which helps me to understand his ‘slant’ a little better. His paper is about adaptation and mitigation policy and outcomes being very different. Mitigation efforts, like a ‘green’ lightbulb, are ‘certain’ and can produce knowable outcomes. Adaptation, however, has a lot of uncertainty attached to it, with few specific predictions and thus responses by government could (and Mr Dobes says basically WILL) be either inadequate or an unnecessary waste of resources.
He proposes working towards a ‘real options’ orientation, where government holds off on doing anything until they have more information (sound familiar?). He suggests that otherwise, they will be tempted to spend too much too soon. I believe this to be very untrue – if this is what an eager Australian government looks like on CC, I’d hate to see a reluctant one! An example: ‘Rather than building ‘worst-case scenario’ sea walls, for example, strong foundations can be laid — so that walls can be built (or not built) in future to match actual climatic conditions without incurring unnecessary upfront expense.’ That said, I am not so naïve as to believe that our government or councils can act, free of financial considerations no matter how urgent we believe this issue to be.