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Bringing Society Back into the Climate Debate


Debate over climate change focuses narrowly on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. A common justification for such emissions reductions is that they will lead to a reduction in the future impacts of climate on society. But research from social scientists and others who study environment–society interactions clearly indicates that the dominant factors shaping the impacts of climate on society are societal. A greater appreciation for this body of research would allow for consideration of a broader base of policy options to respond to the challenges of climate change, as well as the composition of climate research portfolios more likely to contribute useful knowledge to decision makers.

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Correspondence to Roger A. Pielke Jr. or Daniel Sarewitz.

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Pielke, R.A., Sarewitz, D. Bringing Society Back into the Climate Debate. Popul Environ 26, 255–268 (2005).

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  • climate change
  • policy
  • disasters
  • extreme events
  • demographics