Actionable climate knowledge: from analysis to synthesis

Meinke, Holger and Nelson, Rohan and Kokic, Phil and Stone, Roger and Selvaraju, Ramasamy and Baethgen, Walter (2006) Actionable climate knowledge: from analysis to synthesis. Climate Research, 33 (1). pp. 101-110. ISSN 0936-577X


The traditional reductionist approach to science has a tendency to create ‘islands of knowledge in a sea of ignorance’, with a much stronger focus on analysis of scientific inputs rather than synthesis of socially relevant outcomes. This might be the principal reason why intended end users of climate information generally fail to embrace what the climate science community has to offer. The translation of climate information into real-life action requires 3 essential components: salience (the perceived relevance of the information), credibility (the perceived technical quality of the information) and legitimacy (the perceived objectivity of the process by which the information is shared). We explore each of these components using 3 case studies focused on dryland cropping in Australia, India and Brazil. In regards to ‘salience’ we discuss the challenge for climate science to be ‘policy-relevant’, using Australian drought policy as an example. In a village in southern India ‘credibility’ was gained through engagement between scientists and risk managers with the aim of building social capital, achieved only at high cost to science institutions. Finally, in Brazil we found that ‘legitimacy’ is a fragile, yet renewable resource that needs to be part of the package for successful climate applications; legitimacy can be easily eroded but is difficult to recover. We conclude that climate risk management requires holistic solutions derived from cross-disciplinary and participatory, user-oriented research. Approaches that combine climate, agroecological
and socioeconomic models provide the scientific capabilities for establishment of ‘borderless’ institutions without disciplinary constraints. Such institutions could provide the necessary support and flexibility to deliver the social benefits of climate science across diverse contexts. Our case studies show that this type of solution is already being applied, and suggest that the climate science community attempt to address existing institutional constraints, which still impede climate risk management.

Statistics for USQ ePrint 7262
Statistics for this ePrint Item
Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Permanent restricted access to paper due to publisher copyright restrictions.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Historic - Faculty of Sciences - No Department (Up to 30 Jun 2013)
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2010 02:08
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:44
Uncontrolled Keywords: climate knowledge; salience; credibility; legitimacy; dryland cropping; risk management; modelling
Fields of Research (2008): 04 Earth Sciences > 0401 Atmospheric Sciences > 040199 Atmospheric Sciences not elsewhere classified
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160808 Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160511 Research, Science and Technology Policy
Fields of Research (2020): 37 EARTH SCIENCES > 3701 Atmospheric sciences > 370199 Atmospheric sciences not elsewhere classified
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441007 Sociology and social studies of science and technology
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4407 Policy and administration > 440710 Research, science and technology policy
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960399 Climate and Climate Change not elsewhere classified
Identification Number or DOI:

Actions (login required)

View Item Archive Repository Staff Only