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Challenges to Authority: Understanding Critiques of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

Carr, Mary-Elena; Rubenstein, Madeleine

I. Climate Change and The Science-Policy Divide

In response to a growing body of research pointing to human-induced warming of Earth’s climate, and in recognition of the potentially sweeping impacts of climate change for humanity, the world’s governments launched the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC is a consultative body of volunteer scientists charged with periodically assessing the state of knowledge in the many areas of research relating to climate change, including both the physical and social sciences. Given the scope of these assessments, the IPCC has come to be viewed as the singular authority on climate change. The IPCC derives this authority from the credibility of its scientists, the comprehensive review that its assessments undergo, and the consensus that the assessments require from a broad range of participants, including governments and civil society organizations. The IPCC has been object of intense criticism since its creation, largely because of the considerable implications of climate change for public policy. The tension between the IPCC and its critics serve as a clear example of the uneasy relationship between science, the authority it aims to represent, and the rest of society.


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Union Seminary Quarterly Review
Union Theological Seminary

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Union Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
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September 10, 2015