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Cultures of Prediction : Epistemic and Cultural Shifts in Computer-based Atmospheric and Climate Science
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In recent decades science has experienced a revolutionary shift. The development and extensive application of computer modelling and simulation has transformed the knowledge-making practices of scientific fields as diverse as astro-physics, genetics, robotics and demography. However, the environmental sciences, and particularly climate science, are arguably unique in seeing this epistemic transformation combine with a simultaneous heightening of their political relevance, as urgent issues such as climate change, air pollution and ozone depletion have animated new, international policy agendas. This raises crucial questions about the nature of computer models and simulation knowledges, and about the application of such knowledges to pressing questions of public policy.
This book argues that computer modelling and simulation have fundamentally changed practices of knowledge production and the form and content of these disciplines’ claims to truth, and have therefore had a decisive impact on the authority and social significance of environmental knowledges. Through a diverse range of case studies spanning over a century of theoretical and practical developments in the atmospheric and environmental sciences, we argue that computer modelling and simulation have substantially changed scientific and cultural practices and shaped the emergence of novel ‘cultures of prediction’. Making an innovative, interdisciplinary contribution to understanding the impact of computer modelling on research practice, institutional configurations and broader cultures, this volume will be essential reading for anyone interested in the past, present, and future of climate change and the environmental sciences.