Climate Models; current science and common sense

Date: 16 Mar 2010
Speaker(s): Professor Leonard Smith

Part of ESRC’s Festival of Social Science

Physical science does a much better job explaining the generalities of the past than predicting details of the future. So how can scientists inform climate policy: policy on international agreements limiting future emissions, on stimulating relevant technological development, on disaster aid, ideally on reducing the severity of future disasters caused by weather events? Climate change brings into focus just how deeply social science research is influencing our social, economic and political lives, and how those influences will affect us and future generations.

This lecture explored the challenges faced in interpreting developing science to inform action, given political realities. The aim was to exploit the insights of the sciences and the foresight provided by our models (physical, social and economic) to see how making the best use of the available science requires as much common sense as it does computer simulation.