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Models of the Climate Crisis: The Quantitative and the Speculative

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


A climate model in climate science is a proxy (Chun 2018, Mulvin 2021) that does the work of standing in. It replaces the overwhelming complexity of the climate that can only be apprehended via a synoptic form, an abstraction. Yet the proxological role the model aspires to requires negotiating manifestations of agencies that for Stengers (2014) invoke the name of Gaia and to which Clark and Szerszynski (2020) respond with the idea of planetary multiplicity: a restless planet that is “self-incompatible,” “out of step” with itself, and “self-differentiating.” I am especially interested in how models of the Anthropocene that travel beyond science coalesce the quantitative and the speculative. Remarkably, while inscribed with indeterminacy (Shackly and Wynne 1996), models, in their contemporary digital-algorithmic form, are the cornerstones of data-driven, quantified rationalities and numerical precision. Indeed, uncertainty and indeterminacy do not undermine the use of models but open up various possibilities and politics. Considering differential and situated experiences of these dynamics raises political and ethical questions over climate justice.

External organisation

NameUniversity of Southampton
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom