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‘The Public Life of Climate Change: The First 25 Years’

CCCEP / SRI Climate Week Public Lecture ‘The Public Life of Climate Change: The First 25 Years’

Speaker: Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture, King's College London

Chair: Suraje Dessai, Professor of Climate Change Adaptation, University of Leeds

Registration via Eventbrite:

In 1988 few serious commentators believed that the politics of climate change would be anything other than tortuous. Yet the assumption has remained through the period since that human-induced climate change is an important, urgent and discrete problem which at least in principle lends itself to policy solutions. Optimism has waxed and waned, but the belief has been maintained that at least some forms of policy intervention will yield tangible public benefits. Yes, the climatic side-effects of large-scale combustion of fossil fuels were an unforeseen and undesirable outcome of Western and then global industrialisation. But putting this causal chain into reverse-arresting these unwanted side-effects-was believed to be in the reach of an intelligent, purposeful and ingenious humanity. This presumption must now be questioned. Maybe the climate system cannot be purposively managed by humans. This brief survey of climate change over 25 years suggests at least two reasons why. First, there is no 'plan', no self-evidently correct way of framing and tackling the phenomenon of climate change which will over-ride different legitimate interests and force convergence of political action. Second, climate science keeps on generating different forms of knowledge about climate-different handles on climate change--which are suggestive of different forms of political and institutional response to climate change. Taken together these two lessons suggest other ways of engaging with the idea of climate change, not as a discrete environmental phenomenon to prevent, control or manage, but as a forceful idea which carries creative potential.

Biography of Mike Hulme: I am Professor of Climate and Culture in the Department of Geography in the School of Social Science & Public Policy at King’s College London where I am a member of the Environment, Politics and Development Group. My work explores the idea of climate change using historical, cultural and scientific analyses, seeking to illuminate the numerous ways in which climate change is deployed in public and political discourse. I believe it is important to understand and describe the varied ideological, political and ethical work that the idea of climate change is currently performing across different social worlds. My research interests are therefore concerned with representations of climate change in history, culture and the media; with the relationship between climate and society, including adaptation; with how knowledge of climate change is constructed (especially through the IPCC); and with the interactions between climate change knowledge and policy. I welcome approaches from graduate students seeking to study for a PhD in any of these areas in either the social sciences or the arts and humanities. I was an employee of the University of East Anglia between 1988 and 2013, which included being a member of the Climatic Research Unit [masked]) and then the founding Director [masked]) of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research.

Biography of Suraje Dessai: Suraje Dessai has been a Professor of Climate Change Adaptation at the Sustainability Research Institute at the University of Leeds since 2012. His current research and teaching focuses on the management of climate change uncertainties, perception of climate risks and the science-policy interface in climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. He is the recipient of a European Research Council Starting Grant on Advancing Knowledge Systems to Inform Climate Adaptation Decisions – Project ICAD [masked]). Suraje is also currently involved in two large European projects: European Provision Of Regional Impact Assessment on a Seasonal-to-decadal timescale (EUPORIAS) and Bottom-up Climate Adaptation Strategies towards a Sustainable Europe (BASE). He is member of the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) and a visiting scientist at the Centre for Climate Change Impacts, Adaptation and Modeling (CCIAM) of the University of Lisbon. He is currently a Lead Author on the chapter "Foundations for Decision-making" for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Working Group 2 (Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability) Fifth Assessment Report and also serves on the IPCC's Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA).


Tickets: This event is free but you must register for tickets in order to reserve a place. Click the link for tickets:

Venue: Western Lecture Theatre (G01), Leeds University Business School, off Moorland Road, Leeds:

A limited number of copies of Mike Hulme's latest book, Exploring Climate Change through Science and in Society: An anthology of Mike Hulme's essays, interviews and speeches, published in August 2013, will be available for sale before and after the lecture at a price of £27.

More information about this highly praised book can be found here:

More information on Climate Week, including details of other events, can be found here:

More information about the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy (CCCEP) can be found here:

More information about the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) can be found here:

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  • Margo H.

    Hi folks, see you tomorrow. I'll be whizzing about but please see Hi!

    March 2, 2014

  • Graham

    unfortunately I'm away that week, would have liked to attend

    January 30, 2014

  • Margo H.

    I'll be coordinating this event so I can't meet thinquers before or after. It would be great if someone else was happy to coordinate meeting if anyone wishes to.

    January 30, 2014

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