Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Climate science 'needs greater social science input'

Climate researchers pay too little attention to social sciences, delegates at the International Conference of Mountain Countries on Climate Change have heard. Dirk Hoffmann, executive director of the Bolivian Mountain Institute said that there should be more interaction between the natural and social sciences,adding that the lack of effective dialogue between science and social policy is hampering the implementation of adaptation measures. Hoffmann gave an example of agricultural engineers studying the effects of heat stress and reduced water supply on plant growth, who failed to incorporate the views of farmers' perceptions of climate change and their collective or individual attempts to adapt. He also noted that "climate is almost absent [from discussions] in the social sciences", and urged sociologists, psychologists, political scientists, and historians to participate in climate change science discussions, and provide information on how past and present societies have reacted to climate variations, and how political decision-making processes can motivate people to act. Social scientists need to be more involved in studies relating to people's attitudes towards changing climate, and climate change perceptions of people living in different geographical zones, and the likely impact of climate change on livelihoods, particularly in marginalised classes.

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