Weather and climate are inextricably linked to some of the most fundamental determinants of human welfare and social stability. Recognising this, substantial efforts are underway to establish climate services – to provide climate-related information to facilitate individuals and organizations in decision making (e.g., The World Meteorological Organization’s Global Framework for Climate Services and the UK Met Office’s Climate Service UK). These efforts aim to overcome significant gaps between climate knowledge production on the one hand and user needs on the other. In parallel with K4U’s general research on the role of values at the science/society interface, this study explores how the social, economic, and ethical values of users might influence methodological choices in knowledge production in a way that enhances the effectiveness of climate services.
We have been exploring how user values can be taken into account in the delivery of climate services, especially in the management of inductive risk. We recently published in a paper on this in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). There we show how user values can inform several types of uncertain methodological choices in climate services and argue that the practical advantages of doing so could be significant. At present, Lusk is considering how deliberative democratic theory might be employed to resolve an apparent tension between, on the one hand, the idea that the values of particular users can inform climate services delivery and, on the other hand, a prevailing view in the philosophy of science that values deployed in scientific research should be democratically-endorsed.
When deliberating about uncertain methodological choices in climate services - whether to use a given information source, model, analysis method, etc. - choices can and should be informed by the inductive risk preferences of users of the services; insofar as a user is particularly concerned to avoid one sort of error (rather than another), methodological choices sometimes can and should be made to reduce the risk of that error. This role for user values in climate services, i.e. in managing inductive risk, has not been recognized in the literature, despite many calls for greater user involvement in climate service provision. We are reflecting upon the way in which such value influence might be thought to compromise the objectivity of climate services, arguing that such concerns about objectivity are largely misplaced.