Title: Society and climate change: A social analysis of disruptive technology
Responses to climate change challenges are often phrased in terms of imagined technological innovation. Before the Paris Conference, climate scientist Ken Anderson (2015a) writing in Nature/Geosciencewarned that the IPCC’s suggested solutions to the challenges involved “the large-scale rollout of speculative technologies”. He emphasised the point in Nature after the conference (2015b). These climate technologies can involve geo- engineering (GE) or modification of world ecological systems, generally by reflecting or inhibiting heat from the sun or through capturing CO2. Less dramatic proposals include solar energy, wind farms, or biofuels. Social technologies such as emissions trading, carbon taxes, targeted subsidies, and reforestation projects have also been proposed. These technological imaginings often depend on unexamined theories of social life. This project aims to analyse
1) unintended social consequences as central to the understandings of both the implementation and workings of climate technologies and how these technologies can, in turn, be disrupted by social processes.
2) Outline and assess the social assumptions, imaginings and theories embedded in popular, institutional and scientific promotion of climate technologies, to make these assumptions open to discussion.
3) Increase understanding of fears and uncertainties in local communities around climate technology.
4) Move from an analysis of technology based in quantifiable ‘risk’ to one based in complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and the unintended social generation of ‘disorder’.
5) Propose strategies and make policy advice for mitigating the anticipated, and unanticipated, social impacts of climate technologies based upon more adequate theories, and modes of analysis.