Knowing the atmosphere: exploring conceptual and practical dimensions of weather and climate knowledge for environmental decision-making 
Emma Garnett (King's College London)
Sophie Haines (University of Edinburgh)
Steve Rayner (University of Oxford)
British Museum - Studio
Start time:
28 May, 2016 at 14:30 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short Abstract:

The panel uses anthropological approaches to address perceptions, measurements and understandings of atmospheric conditions (climate, weather and change) and their social and cultural entanglements with decision-making about environmental governance, resource management and human lives.

Long Abstract

Changes in atmospheric conditions on a range of timescales bear implications for environmental decision-making: from real-time fluctuations through days, seasons and decades, to the effects of such changes on human health and environmental resources. The panel will explore conceptual and practical interactions of climate variability, weather and change, and address the consequences for governance in fields including (but not limited to) natural resource use, environmental/public health, and disaster management.

The panel invites papers that address perceptions, measurements and understandings of atmospheric changes and their effects on humans and social groups. These may be located at different levels of governance; shared through common sensitivities and circumstances (e.g. gender, age, poverty, environment, sector, cultural practices); and developed in relation to particular technologies and scientific practices (e.g climate modelling, weather forecasting, environmental epidemiology). Questions we would like to probe include:

To what extent are histories (e.g records) and futures (e.g. forecasts) useful and used for decision-making?

How are anomalies, extremes, transitions and averages defined and experienced? What gets 'left out' in cases of uncertainty and complexity?

How is knowledge about weather and climate collected, produced and codified (e.g. through record-keeping, oral histories, data practices, experiments, modelling)?

Which processes, practitioners and outputs are deemed credible/legitimate for decision-making? What counts as 'evidence' in different settings?

Who has stakes in these decisions and how equitable are the processes and outcomes?

How can anthropologists and other academic and applied disciplines tackle these questions, and what opportunities and challenges are offered by innovative methodological approaches and interdisciplinary engagements?

Accepted papers: