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Seeing and Knowing the Earth as a System: An Effective History of Global Environmental Change Research as Scientific and Political Practice
Linköping University, The Tema Institute, Department of Water and Environmental Studies. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Att förstå och utforska jorden som ett system : En historik läsning av den globala miljöforskningens som vetenskaplig och politisk praktik (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Previous research connecting scientific knowledge production with governing of the global environment usually start in international climate change negotiations and related assessments. From that vantage point Earth system science and models are studied as an expansion of Global Circulation Models. By tracing of the history of the present Earth system outlook this thesis offers a reflection about how scientific knowledge produce and connects problems with descriptions of desired order of things and strategies to get there. Knowledge becomes a productive power by shaping fields of possible action in relation to the global environment. The interpreted empirical material consists of scientific discussions from the International global environmental change programmes and particularly the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) and the International Human Dimensions Programme on global environmental change (IHDP). The studied period spans from the start of the planning of the IGBP in 1983 to the presentation of the new research programme Future Earth in 2013. The thesis is organised around the effects of the IGBP’s strategy to use predictive Earth system models as a tool to bring a broad range of scientific disciplines together. The results demonstrate the historicity of the present Earth system outlook by showing how ecosystems and human dimensions were attributed new and more important roles as drivers of global change. The thesis also argue for the need to approach the ‘Earth system’ as a result of a productive tension between top-down perspectives found in global modelling and bottom-up empirical research engaging with process interactions down to local scales.

Abstract [sv]

Genom att studera diskussioner inom internationella miljöforskningsprogram spårar den här avhandlingen framväxten av dagens syn på planeten jorden som ett sammanlänkat system – Jordsystemet. Kopplingen mellan makt och kunskap, styrning och mentaliteter, ligger till grund för studiens tolkande ansats. Den knyter samman sätt att betrakta och beräkna den globala miljön, grunden för jordsystemperspektivet, och de handlingsalternativ det synliggör inom politik och vetenskap. Studien baseras primärt på analyser av arkivmaterial från International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) och International Human Dimensions Programme of Global Environmental Change (IHDP). Tillsammans representerar dessa två program ett brett nätverk för forskning om globala miljöförändringar. Den undersökta perioden startar i och med planeringen av IGBP 1983 och avslutas 2013 med att Future Earth etableras som ett nytt internationellt program för forskning om globala miljöförändringar. Avhandlingen undersöker effekter av IGBPs strategi att använda prediktiva Jordsystemmodeller som ett redskap för att integrera och koordinera forskningen om globala miljöförändringar. Studiens resultat visar på historiciteten i nuvarande sätt att betrakta Jordsystemet. Framförallt studeras hur introducerandet av ekologisk och social komplexitet i förståelsen och modelleringen av Jordsystemet hänger samman med en förändrad bild av relationen människa-miljö och därmed också bilden av globala miljöförändringar som vetenskapligt och politiskt problem. Avhandlingen visar att förståelsen av Jordsystemet vuxit fram i en produktiv spänning mellanovanifrånperspektivet i globala modeller och lokalt förankrad socio-ekologisk interaktion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. , 91 p.
Series
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 631
Keyword [en]
Earth system, Global change, Governmentality, History of the present, history of environmental science
Keyword [sv]
Jordsystemet, Globala miljöförändringar, Governmentality, nuets historia, miljövetenskapernas historia, internationella forskningsprogram, miljöpolitik
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Environmental Sciences Political Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110654DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-110654ISBN: 978‐91‐7519‐236‐9 (print) OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-110654DiVA: diva2:747930
Public defence
2014-10-17, Vallfarten, Hus Vallfarten, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-09-17 Created: 2014-09-17 Last updated: 2014-09-26Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Rendering global change problematic: the constitutive effects of Earth System research in the IGBP and the IHDP
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Rendering global change problematic: the constitutive effects of Earth System research in the IGBP and the IHDP
2014 (English)In: Environmental Politics, ISSN 0964-4016, E-ISSN 1743-8934, Vol. 23, no 2, 339-356 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Efforts to predict the future habitability of Earth are examined in three interrelated IGBP and IHDP projects: Global Change and Terrestrial Ecosystems (GCTE), Land Use and Land Cover Change (LUCC), and the Global Land Project (GLP). Drawing upon project documentation and research plans from 1986 to 2012, and 10 interviews with researchers involved in project design and implementation, we trace how these projects have represented the problem of global change in the modelling of ecosystem and land-use dynamics. The imagining of global change was recalibrated as project participants brought more aspects of natural and human life into their computations. A top-down gaze informed by atmospheric physics and predictable cause–effect relationships gave way to a more complex Anthropocene imaginary dominated by non-linearity and less predictable thresholds and pathways. Given intrinsic links between ways of representing and knowing a phenomenon and ways of acting upon it so as to transform it, qualitative change in how the Earth System is ‘rendered problematic’ may imply changes for the practices of environmental science and governance.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2014
Keyword
global change, Earth System, Anthropocene, biopolitics, environmental politics
National Category
Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-101344 (URN)10.1080/09644016.2013.835964 (DOI)000332274900009 ()
Available from: 2013-11-21 Created: 2013-11-21 Last updated: 2017-12-06
2. One Model to Fit All? The Pursuit of Integrated Earth System Models in GAIM and AIMES
Open this publication in new window or tab >>One Model to Fit All? The Pursuit of Integrated Earth System Models in GAIM and AIMES
2015 (English)In: Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung, ISSN 0172-6404, Vol. 40, no 2, 271-297 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Images of Earth from space popularized the view of our planet as a single, fragile entity against the vastness and darkness of space. In the 1980s, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) was set up to produce a predictive understanding of this fragile entity as the ‘Earth System’. In order to do so, the program sought to create a common research framework for the different disciplines involved. It suggested that integrated numerical models could provide such a framework. The paper historicizes the formation of the present ways of thinking about how the components are combined to produce policy-relevant knowledge about the ‘Earth System’. The empirical basis consists of project documentation, publications and interviews from the Task Force on Global Analysis, Interpretation and Modelling (GAIM) and the project Analysis, Integration and Modelling of the Earth System (AIMES). Within the IGBP GAIM and AIMES fostered the advancement of ‘Earth System’ modeling. The paper divides the development of ‘Earth System’ modeling up into three phases. Research of the first phase mainly concerned the interpretation of model behavior (1984-1997), in the second phase integration and ‘Earth System’ analysis was placed at the center of research efforts (1998-2003). In the third phase AIMES scientists explored the consequences of incorporating humans as a dynamic component in the ‘Earth System’ (2004-). This transition shows how the rendering of the global environment as increasing complex rearranged the roles of modelers and predictability of the ‘Earth System’.

National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Sociology Political Science
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110651 (URN)000352520400013 ()
Note

I would like to express my gratitude toward all the interviewees for generously giving of their time; to the anonymous reviewer, Mathias Friman and Green Critical Forum for valuable comments on the manuscript; and to the Linkoping University LiU FoAss program for funding my research.

Available from: 2014-09-17 Created: 2014-09-17 Last updated: 2016-06-15
3. Governing through knowledge: START and the expansion of global environmental research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Governing through knowledge: START and the expansion of global environmental research
2013 (English)In: Interpretive approaches to global climate governance: (de-)constructing the greenhouse / [ed] Chris Methmann, Delf Rothe and Benjamin Stephan, Routledge, 2013, 152-165 p.Chapter in book (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The SysTem for Analysis, Research, and Training (START) project was launched in 1992 as an international science project that sought to stimulate and coordinate the development of global change research. Developed collaboratively by the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme, World Climate Research Programme, and Human Dimensions of global environmental change Programme, START was designed primarily to change how scientific knowledge is produced and turned into policy. Its capacity-building portfolio includes fostering the expertise needed to produce the authoritative scientific knowledge required for global environmental and climate governance. This chapter examines scientific rationalities and practices as they became visible when START expanded into new areas. The production of scientific knowledge is understood as dependent on knowledge infrastructures and the structuring of information as connected with power and the ability to govern. The chapter demonstrates how the expansion of the Global Environmental Change research network was organized around a set of changing rationalities mixing policy impacts, infrastructure, and scientific needs. Interpretative analysis of central newsletters and reports enables a genealogical analysis of the emergence of the present knowledge infrastructure, paying special attention to the idea of the Earth system as a rationality and technology of government. In doing so, the study contributes to debate on knowledge and power in global environmental change research, especially in connection with research in developing countries

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2013
Series
Interventions
Keyword
Climate change mitigation International cooperation, Climatic changes Government policy, Climatic changes Law and legislation, Environmental policy, Global warming Government policy, Greenhouse gases Government policy, Klimatpolitik
National Category
Sociology Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-93336 (URN)0-4155-2-188-2 (ISBN)978-04-1552-188-8 (ISBN)
Projects
Earth system Governmentality
Available from: 2013-06-04 Created: 2013-05-30 Last updated: 2014-10-24Bibliographically approved
4. Narratives of the Past for Future Earth: The Historiography of Global Environmental Change Research
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Narratives of the Past for Future Earth: The Historiography of Global Environmental Change Research
2015 (English)In: The Anthropocene Review, ISSN 2053-0196, E-ISSN 2053-020X, Vol. 2, no 2, 159-173 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper analyses the auto-historiography of global environmental change research. It traces how participating researchers make sense of and rationalise research strategies through narratives of the history of global change and Earth System science. Our study draws on personal and programme accounts of Earth System science’s background related to the international global environmental change research programmes International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and Future Earth, from 1983 to 2013. The study finds three core narratives: the science history narrative motivates the future development of the programme by building on the successes of earlier international projects. The Earth System departs from an enhanced understanding of environmental change over time. Finally, the Anthropocene narrative underpins arguments for a science-based management of human–environment systems. We argue that including reflexive analytical perspectives in the history writing of Future Earth contributes to making environmental change research relevant and useful for democratic decision-making.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015
Keyword
auto-history, Future Earth, historiography, research programmes, science history
National Category
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Sociology Political Science Environmental Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110653 (URN)10.1177/2053019614567543 (DOI)000356275800008 ()
Projects
Earth System GovernmentalitySocial representations of novel dual high-stake technologies
Note

At the time for thesis presentation publication was in status: Manuscript

Available from: 2014-09-17 Created: 2014-09-17 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved

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