Friday, August 18, 2017

Led by:  Lewis Gilbert
While climate science continues to founder on a lee shore, the question remains: How can we achieve the best possible future for humans on Earth? In Herbert Simon’s natural / artificial framework, this question is unambiguously artificial and hence elements of human intention are inextricably entwined in both its formulation and the in the processes of its answers.  Following further, it seems likely that the artificial sciences (disciplines?) — e.g. social science, engineering, and I would expand to the humanities as well — will become more relevant as time passes.

This Salon will focus on that evolution:

  • How can the artificial disciplines avoid the pitfalls that have bedeviled climate science in recent decades?
  • How can variances in culture and geography be accounted for as we strive to govern ourselves on local, regional and global scales toward a better future?


Problem with climate change:  uses models, contains rhetoric and narratives; needs to function better.

Social science is gaining increasing importance.  What can social scientists do to avoid conundrum that climate change scientists are facing?  The scale of the problem matters.  How do we determine the appropriate scale of the project?

Solutions need to be global; management of CO2 is highly important; global protocols need to be addressed; political purposes abound.

Research agenda: how locked in are we to a political paradigm; how do we avoid being stuck in a rut?

We have new responsibilities for the planet; the unstable planet we’ve created; pollution has downstream effects; how do new technologies hurt or aid the problem?

Energy security concerns exist; need to change energy systems; inertia in system that can’t address issues.

Financial considerations affect these issues; no political will to make changes currently exist; political failure to act.

Technology provides solutions to issues; some of which can’t be solved.  Discussion of Dan Sarewitz’s paper on ozone and literacy.  Literacy is “contacts dependent.”

What do we do now to make things better for the future?  Thought experiment?  Think & do?  Present and preserve possible futures.  Minimize threats, enhance strengths, encourage discourse; develop expectations.

Discussion of scenario development.  Cynthia drew axis labeling each one, suggestion of four “worlds” resulting from discussion.  Lewis has this document, along with his chart.

What is the place of science?  Science sets up narratives.  Role of science is to hold up a set of ideas to address.  There are leverage points for unlocking over-determined systems.  Over-determined policy apparatus.  Predisposed to particular outcomes.

Education and outreach are natural results (engagement and knowledge) of scenario development.  Must be assured that all stakeholders participate in this exercise to have all peoples represented on a global scale.

Result of discussion:

  1. Large scale scenario development project is needed on this subject
  2. Analysis of scenarios needs to be developed
  3. Policy implications of scenarios should be developed
  4. Strategic Plan with actionable items must be developed and acted upon

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