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Ambiguity: A new way of thinking about responses to climate change


Fleming, A and Howden, SM, Ambiguity: A new way of thinking about responses to climate change, Science of The Total Environment, 571 pp. 1271-1274. ISSN 0048-9697 (2016) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2016 Elsevier B.V.

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.07.162


Diversity, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity are now recognized as vital to tackling wicked problems such as those presented by a changing climate (Nature editorial 2015, Ledford 2015; Dick et al., 2016). Including diverse disciplines in science projects enables a range of different views which often facilitate the creation of innovative solutions. Supporting multiple views and options requires a different way of working beyond traditional reductionist approaches to science, communication and decision-making. To embrace diversity in scientific project teams in order to tackle complex, integrated and urgent issues but to expect singular and linear pathways forward is paradoxical. Much has been written about the need for the scientific community to embrace uncertainty (e.g. Popper, Lempert & Bankes 2005; Lempert et al., 2004; Nelson, Howden & Hayman 2013; Bammer & Smithson 2008). We argue that this in itself will not suffice, and that there is also a need to embrace ambiguity in certain situations. Thus, in this article we explore: (1) what ambiguity is, including the benefits it can offer to climate adaptation in particular, using existing approaches to ambiguity in the arts and humanities as examples (2), we discuss practical meanings of ambiguity in relation to climate change, (3) we propose possible next steps for bringing ambiguity into interdisciplinary practice, and (4) we identify some challenges and necessary preconditions to successfully and appropriately embracing ambiguity.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ambiguity, interdisciplinary research, transdisciplinary research, climate change, adaptation, diversity
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Law in context
Research Field:Law and society and socio-legal research
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in human society
UTAS Author:Fleming, A (Dr Aysha Fleming)
ID Code:111393
Year Published:2016
Web of Science® Times Cited:8
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2016-09-09
Last Modified:2017-11-10

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