Mike Hulme, Professor of Climate and Culture at Kings College London says in this new book that climate change is really a question about `what is it to be human?' He points out that other species aren't expected to look out for distant future generations, or indeed most of their fellow species. He argues that how humans address climate change is a philosophical/political question and not a scientific one, and therefore will be contested.
Professor Hulme has held a prominent role in climate science over the last twenty years. He founded the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change, the multidisciplinary climate research centre bringing together many of the best climate scientists in the UK. He has been published widely on this issue, and his new book is an anthology of some of his more interesting writing.
His ideas challenge those who want scientific truths to win out, as he points out there is no one scientific truth but instead scientific facts with many perspectives upon them. He challenges those who search for one grand international plan to solve the climate change issue, as he argues hoping for such a plan is naïve. He argues that consensus on climate change will not emerge because the very notion of what is dangerous climate change is very different depending on who you are, where you are and your world view.
Because of these differences Hulme calls for an approach of `clumsy solutions' mushrooming across the globe rather than one grand plan. He calls for us to put the welfare of humans centre stage and not what he sees as an artificial global temperature target. And he calls for science to be put in its place alongside the humanities, spirituality and politics rather than elevated on a pedestal.
His book is a challenging read, and excellent because of it. It demands that politics is put centre-stage in addressing climate change. This may be uncomfortable for those individuals or groups than shun politics or call for a different approach. But I think he is dead right - it's politics that most matters in the fight against climate change.
Mike Childs, Head of Science, Policy & Research, Friends of the Earth