Post-normal science and climate change issue

In the late 20th century, natural science have increasingly been used in various issues which are caused by the rapid development of technologies. Climate change, increased rate of extinction of species, environmental pollution are a few examples which may result in serious ecological, economical,social and cultural issues. In light of this, a reasonable knowledge is essential for the global policy-making. While normal science does not always work with the complexity of nature, which always address problems within the framework set by the present paradigm. Its traditional ‘inside’ scientific peer community does not allow ‘outside’ groups or persons to take part in the scientific problem-solving process. The gap of communication easily caused conflicts between scientists and non-scientists [3].

As climate change is a complex issue, including multiple interactions and feedbacks between its subsystems, and affecting food production, water resources, sea-level and human health [3]. Therefore, post-normal science as a new philosophy or methodology is possible to deal with the complex problems and it is meant to be applied whenever high stakes, risks and high uncertainty are involved in a policy-relevant issue [1]. According to figure1, the climate change issue fulfills the attributes needed to belong to the domain of Post-Normal Science. Ravetz and Funtowicz (2003) claim that this is necessary for the better quality of policy decisions. Contrast with normal science, post-normal science allows the various stakeholders with various perspectives on the issue, thus it includes a broader scope of involved persons, institutions and movements which can improve the quality of decision-making.


Figure 1. Post-normal science (Ravetz and Funtowicz,2003)

However, there are also some limitations of post-normal science. Even it is shared by an extended peer community, it does not necessary translate into action [2]. It is hard to tackle a problem of epic proportions such as climate change due to numerous challenges from political motives [2].

[1]Funtowicz, S., and Ravetz , J.(2003). “Post‐Normal Science”, Internet Encyclopaedia of Ecological Economics, pp. 1‐10.

[2]Friedrichs, J., 2011. Peak energy and climate change: The double bind of post-normal science. Futures, 43(4), pp.469-477.

[3]Saloranta, T.M., 2001. Post-normal science and the global climate change issue. Climatic Change, 50(4), pp.395-404.




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