Exploring Climate Change through Science and in Society
An anthology of Mike Hulme's essays, interviews and speeches
By Mike Hulme
Foreword by Matthew Nisbet
Routledge – 2014 – 352 pages
Mike Hulme has been studying climate change for over thirty years and is today one of the most distinctive and recognisable voices speaking internationally about climate change in the academy, in public and in the media. The argument that he has made powerfully over the last few years is that climate change has to be understood as much as an idea situated in different cultural contexts as it is as a physical phenomenon to be studied through universal scientific practices. Climate change at its core embraces both science and society, both knowledge and culture.
Hulme’s numerous academic and popular writings have explored what this perspective means for the different ways climate change is studied, narrated, argued over and acted upon. Exploring Climate Change through Science and in Society gathers together for the first time a collection of his most popular, prominent and controversial articles, essays, speeches, interviews and reviews dating back to the late 1980s. The 50 or so short items are grouped together in seven themes - Science, Researching, Culture, Policy, Communicating, Controversy, Futures - and within each theme are arranged chronologically to reveal changing ideas, evidence and perspectives about climate change. Each themed section is preceded with a brief introduction, drawing out the main issues examined. Three substantive unpublished new essays have been specially written for the book, including one reflecting on the legacy of Climategate.
Taken as a collection, these writings reveal the changes in scientific and public understandings of climate change since the late 1980s, as refracted through the mind and expression of one leading academic and public commentator. The collection shows the many different ways in which it is necessary to approach the idea of climate change to interpret and make sense of the divergent and discordant voices proclaiming it in the public sphere.
I doubt that anyone on Earth can match Mike Hulme's deep understanding of both the scientific and social aspects of climate change. Yet of course what really matters, and what is so clearly on display in this volume, is the way he combines, with a sensibility that is at once rigorous and enormously generous, these two knowledge domains to provide insight and, indeed, wisdom into the true and many meanings of climate change.
–Dan Sarewitz, Arizona State University, USA
Here is a climatologist who has come to know that his discipline provides woefully poor impetus for political action. Whatever the prospects of averting the worst impacts of climate change, Mike Hulme is right: any proportional response must flow from deep reflection on who we are as humans, and what shapes us thus.
– Tom Crompton, Change Strategist, WWF-UK
Climate change was first an issue of climate science. But climate change is now mostly a political process, which needs recognition of its diverse cultural dimensions. Mike Hulme allows us to follow this development by presenting himself as an involved person, who has learned that climate change is not a matter of preaching the truth but of us deciding how we want to live.
– Hans von Storch, Director of Institute for Coastal Research, Geesthacht, Germany
Mike Hulme’s work is especially valuable because it crosses disciplines; in no field can this intellectual broadness be more essential than in the complex and bitterly contested field of climate change. His background as a physical scientist gives special weight to his insights on climate change as an evolving cultural narrative. Anyone with an interest in climate should read this book, and read it with a mind as open as Hulme’s has always been.
– Mark Lynas, environmentalist and author, UK
Mike Hulme is reflective, scientifically precise and dispassionate. This engaging collection traces the 25-year trajectory of the writings of a fine public intellectual, as science and society become deeply entwined from climate science in the greenhouse summer of 1988 through to the era of the Anthropocene.
– Libby Robin, Australian National University, Australia and KTH Environmental Humanities Laboratory, Sweden
This is a fascinating collection of articles, providing a unique window on the inside world of climate change. Mike Hulme has done it all - the research, the institutions, the reflection, and the public speeches. Through his eyes, the co-evolution of climate change science and society unfolds, as it moved from the 20th Century into the 21st.
– Corinne Le Quere, Director, Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, UK
This book offers unique insights into the many facets of climate change from one of the leading voices in the field. Mike Hulme’s commentaries, interviews, book reviews and speeches are a must read for anyone interested in the development of this important issue.
– Reiner Grundmann, University of Nottingham, UK
This collection of articles brings together the innovative and always thought-provoking contributions and ideas that Mike Hulme brings to the debates on climate change. It represents a comprehensive collection that is honest and informative about a wide array of debates from climate science to policy to art. For those that appreciate Mike Hulme’s interventions, this book is a real collector’s item. For those less familiar, this is an excellent introduction to the extraordinary range of one of the world’s leading thinkers on climate change.– Samuel Randalls, University College London, UK
This collection of work by one of the world’s leading authors on climate change, represents essential, engaging and enlightening reading on this most topical of social and environmental, global and local concerns.
– Georgina Endfield, University of Nottingham, UK
Foreword by Matt Nisbet 1. The public life of climate change: the first twenty-five years 2. Science 3. Researching 4. Culture 5. Policy 6. Policy 7. Communicating 8. Futures 9. Reactions to Why We Disagree About Climate Change
Mike Hulme is Professor of Climate and Culture at King’s College London, UK, having previously worked for 25 years at the University of East Anglia, UK. He established the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and was its Founding Director from 2000–2007.