'Historiographies of Climate Science’

Conversation with Sarah Dry (Oxford Trust/Cambridge)

In these short seminars taking the form of informal conversations we discuss the ways in which climate scientists and ecologists can most efficiently communicate their results to policy makers and to the public. Scientists and science writers have adopted different rhetorical strategies to get the message across, but the doubtless most persistent approach has been to publicise surveys offering quantitative measures of scientific consensus. For example, just prior to the Bonn Climate Summit in 2017, 15.364 scientists signed a common document warning about the dire ecological state of the planet which was published in the international newspaper (Le Monde), at the exact intersection of the scientific community and the public sphere. Some research suggests that such surveys have the desired impact, other that it does not. In any case, a wide range of other rhetorical models have also been suggested as more efficient alternatives, borrowed from journalism, screen play writing, medical case stories, historiography of science, literary writing, experiential learning, and so on. For example, some authors of the most recent IPCC report (2021) have stressed the importance of “story telling” for the way they have devised their part of the report. The conversations will explore these various models of communication, experience, and public engagement with respect to climate science and ecology.