The cost of the Climategate
May 6, 2012
Bishop Hill in Climate: CRU
Reiner Grundmann looks at different evaluations of Climategate and considers the costs of trying to brush the affair under the carpet.
In conclusion, we see a variety of approaches and evaluations of the climategate affair, emphasizing different aspects and taking care how to take a stance in this highly politicized debate. What I find most interesting is how authors have dealt with the problem of reflexivity (or not!), given that their intellectual heritage is rooted in [Science and Technology Studies] and varieties of constructivism. While this approach broadly informs Wynne and Jasanoff’s papers, they have not really examined the affair as ‘science in the making’ in any detailed way. Ryghaug and Skjølsvold provide such detail but shrink back from an evaluation in the light of what has been seen as a loss of credibility and a scandal. Van der Sluijs and Beck’s call for institutional reform of the IPCC and more openness in climate science goes further. And Ravetz steps up to the challenge of reflexivity giving a very personal account, looking into the mirror and describing the powerful social mechanisms of being coopted by the dominant discourse, which led him to suspend critical reflection for a while. If social scientists want to avoid the dilemma sketched by Wynne of either denying the authority of IPCC science or faithfully following its conventional wisdom down the corresponding technocratic policy, they had better examine climategate more deeply and ponder the lessons. We need much more reflection on this case which should not be closed off because of political expediency. The debate has only just begun.
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