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Climate change and uncertainty
from below and above
Lyla Mehta, Alankar, Shibaji Bose, Upasona
Ghosh and Vijay Kumar
Delhi...
Rationale
• Impacts and knowledges of climate change are
characterised by uncertainty
•Integration in CC decision making d...
The project examined :
• Uncertainty from ‘below’ (and ‘above’)
• Storylines of uncertainty, climate change,
histories of ...
What is uncertainty?
• a situation of indeterminancies where not
enough is known about the probabilities of a
particular s...
Uncertainties in CC
• Uncertainties in CC projections high and
local level impacts difficult to predict
• IPCC : uncertain...
Uncertainty from above: the framings of
experts, modelers, planners, the State,
politicians, markets and scientists (strat...
Climate change from below?
• Jasanoff: Need to synchronise scientific
framings with ‘mundane rhythms of lived lives
and sp...
Study areas
• Wetlands – Sunderbans
• Drylands – Kutch:
• Urban India: (Delhi/ Mumbai)
• Global / national: (Ethnography
o...
Approach
• Ethnographies of knowledges
and framings
•Practices and cultures
•Institutional arrangements
•Implications for ...
Methodology and methods
• Multi-sited
• Mixed methods
• Discourse and textual analysis
• Semi structured interviews and FG...
Sunderbans
• Uncertainty omnipresent in daily life
(cyclones/ sea level rise/ tidal waves/ floods)
•Political economy – So close yet ...
Kutch
Rainfall In Kachchh
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
700
800
900
1000
1990…
1991…
1992…
1993…
1994…
1995…
1996…
1997…
1998…
1999…...
Kutch
• Local people used to living with
uncertainty
• Still: reporting extreme events and
changes (e.g. changes in rainfa...
Mumbai/ Delhi
• Island heat effect
• Sea level rise
• Provision of water /
new politics of
water scarcity
• Expansion over...
Delhi / Mumbai
• Above overconfident and not taking
uncertainty seriously (technological fixes)
• Business and usual and p...
Issues/ conclusions/ questions
•Scientists struggling with uncertainty – but
despite limits won’t let go of models. Unclea...
Thoughts on pathways
• Range between top down capitalist driven
development (Kutch/ cities)/ complete
marginalisation and ...
Gaps/ focus of current project
• Various dimensions of scientific
expertise
• Focus on ‘Above’ / expert notions of
uncerta...
- Thank you
Lyla Mehta -
IDS/STEPS/ NMBU
Alankar – Sarai
Shibaji Bose – IIHMR
Upasona Ghosh –
IIHMR
V Vijay Kumar –
GUIDE
Mehta et al - Climate change and uncertainty from below and above
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Mehta et al - Climate change and uncertainty from below and above

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Workshop on climate change and uncertainty from below and above, Delhi. http://steps-centre.org/2016/blog/climate-change-and-uncertainty-from-above-and-below/

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Mehta et al - Climate change and uncertainty from below and above

  1. 1. Climate change and uncertainty from below and above Lyla Mehta, Alankar, Shibaji Bose, Upasona Ghosh and Vijay Kumar Delhi 2016
  2. 2. Rationale • Impacts and knowledges of climate change are characterised by uncertainty •Integration in CC decision making disputed •Ecological uncertainty usually conceptualised from ‘above’ by experts • How attuned are these with how local people live with and understand uncertainty?
  3. 3. The project examined : • Uncertainty from ‘below’ (and ‘above’) • Storylines of uncertainty, climate change, histories of scarcity, flooding etc. • A range of pathways (both dominant and alternative) from a range of stakeholders • Patterns of resilience and coping • Path dependency - major drivers of social and political change in conjunction with patterns of uncertainty www.steps-centre.org
  4. 4. What is uncertainty? • a situation of indeterminancies where not enough is known about the probabilities of a particular set of outcomes and they cannot be calculated (Knight, 1921; Douglas, 1985) • Roots in many disciplines - incomplete knowledge / incertitude •Epistemological and ontological uncertainties (Walker et al) • Official responses to uncertainty have been inadequate (Wynne ; Stirling) and tendency to control uncertainty/ treat it as risk
  5. 5. Uncertainties in CC • Uncertainties in CC projections high and local level impacts difficult to predict • IPCC : uncertainties around spatial and temporal patterns of rainfall; intensification of present climatic variability • ‘Monster’ or ‘super-wicked’ problem • Quantitative assessment based on ‘probabilities’ and problems with quantification • Primacy of computer models and their social life
  6. 6. Uncertainty from above: the framings of experts, modelers, planners, the State, politicians, markets and scientists (stratified, heterogenous, powerful ). The ‘official’ accredited expertise Uncertainty from below: the framings of lay and local people (stratified, heterogeneous, power) in the global South. Considered to be ‘experiential’ non-official knowledge. The Middle Or Translators: knowledge brokers, intermediaries, street level bureaucrats, activists, academics, media etc. who often bridge ‘above’ and ‘middle’
  7. 7. Climate change from below? • Jasanoff: Need to synchronise scientific framings with ‘mundane rhythms of lived lives and specificities of human experience’ • CC uncertainties exacerbated by livelihood practices, social difference and multiple drivers of change • Social meanings/ interactions with ecological worlds (e.g. political ) • Role of different kinds of knowledges • Institutional arrangements • Practices of anticipation (Hastrup 2013)
  8. 8. Study areas • Wetlands – Sunderbans • Drylands – Kutch: • Urban India: (Delhi/ Mumbai) • Global / national: (Ethnography of scientists, experts, modellers )
  9. 9. Approach • Ethnographies of knowledges and framings •Practices and cultures •Institutional arrangements •Implications for social justice / normativity
  10. 10. Methodology and methods • Multi-sited • Mixed methods • Discourse and textual analysis • Semi structured interviews and FGDs • Ethnographic engagement • Historical analysis • Photovoice and embedded comms • Methodologies for appraisal/ translations
  11. 11. Sunderbans
  12. 12. • Uncertainty omnipresent in daily life (cyclones/ sea level rise/ tidal waves/ floods) •Political economy – So close yet so far/ poverty and government neglect •Increasing livelihood uncertainty/ migration •Uncertainties in science (e.g. around embankments/ river siltation/ island loss) Dominant pathways: Focus on planned exist / embankments / mangrove restoration/ wildlife etc. •Local people left out or ‘blamed’ – Sunderbans not for people – www.steps-centre.org
  13. 13. Kutch
  14. 14. Rainfall In Kachchh 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 1990… 1991… 1992… 1993… 1994… 1995… 1996… 1997… 1998… 1999… 2000… 2001… 2002… 2003… 2004… 2005… 2006… 2007… 2008… 2009… 2010… Annualrainfall(inmm) 0 200 400 600 800 1000 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 Years 0 100 200 300 400 500 600 700 800 900 1000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Years
  15. 15. Kutch • Local people used to living with uncertainty • Still: reporting extreme events and changes (e.g. changes in rainfall pattern/ extreme temperatures) • Lots of official measures but no reduction of uncertainty • CC one of many changes (e.g. pollution/ industrialisation/ commodification of commons)
  16. 16. Mumbai/ Delhi • Island heat effect • Sea level rise • Provision of water / new politics of water scarcity • Expansion over creeks, waterways mangroves • Floods / soil erosion
  17. 17. Delhi / Mumbai • Above overconfident and not taking uncertainty seriously (technological fixes) • Business and usual and profit oriented • Middle problematizes issues and provides multiple perspectives • Poor face vulnerabilities and differentiated by class, caste and gender • Attack from elites (evictions etc.. )
  18. 18. Issues/ conclusions/ questions •Scientists struggling with uncertainty – but despite limits won’t let go of models. Unclear how to deal with situated contexts & multiple drivers • Diverse experiences of uncertainty and how it interacts with lives/ livelihoods • Uncertainty not new; CC one additional dimension – ‘ Life is uncertain’ •CC as all pervasive discourse in urban areas – less so in Sunderbans / Kutch • Political economy and politics of uncertainty •Institutional complexities and lack of coordination • Diverse roles of ‘above’, ‘middle’ and ‘below’
  19. 19. Thoughts on pathways • Range between top down capitalist driven development (Kutch/ cities)/ complete marginalisation and neglect (Sunderbans) • Official neglect of uncertainty has increased local level insecurities and illbeing • Scope to urge ‘above’ to be more attuned with local rhythms of uncertainty • Local histories highlight long history of adaptation and indigenous patterns of coping • Alternatives exist across the sites • In the face of growing CC threats, some may not be viable ; some hybrids emerging.. but how feasible are options such as ‘planned exit’?
  20. 20. Gaps/ focus of current project • Various dimensions of scientific expertise • Focus on ‘Above’ / expert notions of uncertainty and differences in ‘above’ • Methodologies • Translations across above and below ‘The middle’ • Transformations and radical changes in development pathways
  21. 21. - Thank you Lyla Mehta - IDS/STEPS/ NMBU Alankar – Sarai Shibaji Bose – IIHMR Upasona Ghosh – IIHMR V Vijay Kumar – GUIDE

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