Algorithms and Climate Change: Knowing, Acting, Governing 2

Type: Paper
Sponsor Groups: Digital Geographies Specialty Group, Cultural and Political Ecology Specialty Group, Climate Specialty Group
Poster #:
Day: 4/3/2019
Start / End Time: 12:40 PM / 2:20 PM (Eastern Standard Time)
Room: Empire Room, Omni, West
Organizers: Ruth Machen, Eric Nost
Chairs: Ruth Machen

Call for Submissions

We are open to papers that contribute to, but need not be limited by the above questions.

Abstracts of 250 words should be submitted to and for consideration by October 17th, 2018. Participants will be notified by October 19th if their paper has been accepted. They will then need to register for the AAG conference and provide their PIN to the organisers by October 25th in order to be included in the panel.


What is Lost?
This session is the second part of two sessions examining knowledge politics at the intersection of algorithms and climate change governance. Session two will focus specifically on omissions, occlusions and what is lost or left out when thinking and acting on climate change via algorithmic modes.

While algorithms have been central to climate modelling - as well to how mitigation and adaptation strategies are evaluated - relatively little attention to date has been directed towards the political implications of knowing, acting on and governing climate change through an algorithmic register (cf. Hulme 2011). Popular and scientific attention has instead tended to focus on practical questions around improving model design, applying geospatial technologies and developing robotic and remote sensing. As part of an increasing attention to the digital within human geography (Ash, Kitchin, and Leszczynski 2018), scholars have highlighted the political work of interfaces (Ash et al 2018), platforms (Srnicek 2017), sensors (Gabrys 2015, 2016), urban operating systems (Marvin and Luque-Ayala 2017), biometrics (Amoore 2006, 2009, 2011), data visualisations (Boehnert 2016) and code (Nost 2015). Contributing to this critical engagement with digital forms, this session turns attention to algorithmic knowledge politics within climate governance. Empirical, theoretical and critical papers in this session will engage with one or more of the following questions:

- What does it mean to know climate change through an algorithmic register? What kinds of knowledge are afforded?
- In what ways do algorithms extend, short-circuit and otherwise modify existing knowledge chains? Who authors, maintains, and evaluates algorithms and their outputs? What implications arise through translating knowledge in-and-out of digital language and/or binary decision structures?
- What kinds of decisions, actions or interventions are made possible or occluded through algorithmic means?
- What are the limits to calculating climate and situating predicted changes within concrete political, economic, and social contexts? With what implications for climate governance and justice?
- What similarities and differences in algorithmic climate knowledge politics are there across cases?


Type Details Minutes Start Time
Presenter Dylan M Harris*, Clark University, The Trouble with Modeling the Human into the Future Climate 15 12:40 PM
Presenter Jude Ntabathia*, , Invisible Labor in Weather and Climate Infrastructures by Citizen Weather Observers 15 12:55 PM
Presenter J. Michael Athay*, Clark University, Conceptions of Climate Change: Conversations with U.S. Conservatives 15 1:10 PM
Presenter Kristy Myles*, University of Calgary, Gwendolyn Blue, University of Calgary, Developing biotechnologies as an anticipatory response to challenges posed by climate change: Whose knowledge counts? 15 1:25 PM
Discussant Karen Bakker University of British Columbia 20 1:40 PM

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