Climate change and futures epistemologies: tensions, trends and possibilities in climate discourses epitomised by three prominent climate experts

Stephen McGrail

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4 Citations (Scopus)


In the early-to-mid 2000s climate change became the preeminent sustainability issue, as climate scientists and modellers spoke authoritatively on long-term futures. More recently social responses to climate change have become more muted. This narrative-based inquiry presents a description and examination of the experiences and research programs of three prominent climate experts - James Hansen, Mike Hulme, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber - with a focus on ways of knowing climate futures and the evolving relationship between science, politics and society. The 'stories' highlight the current prediction imperative in climate science and policy, reveal important tensions in the expectations and practices of (climate) science, and inform discussion of associated emerging trends and issues. The paper also seeks to contribute a futures perspective on how tensions in the current social juncture - regarding how human societies understand and respond to changing and anticipated climates - might be better recognised and, hopefully, overcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-40
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Futures Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Climate change
  • Epistemological limits
  • Narrative inquiry
  • Science-policy interface

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