08 Jul 2022
08 Jul 2022
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Brief Communication: Climate science as a social process – history, climatic determinism, CUDOS und post-normality

Hans von Storch Hans von Storch
  • Institute of Coastal Systems, Helmholtz Center Hereon, Geesthacht, 21502, Germany

Abstract. Since ages, the topic of climate – in the sense of “usual weather” – has in the western tradition attracted attention as a possible explanatory factor. Climate, and its purported impact on society, is an integrated element in western thinking and perception.

In this lecture, the history of ideas about the climatic impact on humans and society, and the emergence of the ideology of climatic determinism are sketched. This ideology favored the perception of westerners being superior to the people in the rest of the world, giving legitimacy to colonialism.

In modern time, when natural sciences instituted self-critical processes (repeatability, falsification) and norms (CUDOS @Merton), the traditional host for climate issues, namely geography, lost its grip, and physics took over. This led to a more systematic, critical, and rigorous approach of building and testing hypotheses and concepts. This gain in methodical rigor, however, went along with the loss of understanding that climate is hardly a key explanatory factor for societal differences and developments. Consequently, the large segments of the field tacitly and unknowingly began reviving the abandoned concept of climatic determinism. Climate science finds itself in a “post-normal” condition, which leads to a frequent dominance of political utility over methodical rigor.

Hans von Storch

Status: open (until 17 Sep 2022)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-577', Richard Rosen, 14 Jul 2022 reply
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-577', Anonymous Referee #1, 05 Aug 2022 reply
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-577', Anonymous Referee #2, 14 Aug 2022 reply

Hans von Storch

Hans von Storch


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Short summary
Climate science is, as all sciences, a social process, and as such conditioned by the Zeitgeist of the time. It has an old history, and has attained different political significances. Today, it is the challenge of anthropgenic climate change – and societies wants answers about how to deal with it. In earlier timers, it was mostly tthe ideology of climate determinism, which led people to construct superiority, and eventually colonialism.