Visual Cultures of Prediction: Imaging Climate Change Data

Saturday, 14 February 2015: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 210AB (San Jose Convention Center)
Climate-change research has reached the center of society. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports, magazines, websites, and the blogosphere communicate the threatening results of possible climate futures. Visual representations of the output of climate models, or climate pictures, form the centerpieces of these publications. But to transfer climate data into images -- to make findings visible -- complex knowledge must be condensed to core statements and concise synopses. The ideal here is the holograph: the whole is still contained in the part. However, decades of research in the aesthetics, rhetoric, and philosophy of scientific visualization have demonstrated that the processes of visualization invariably change and exclude complex data. This symposium panel investigates the following themes by looking at them from the diverse perspectives of climate modeling, visual studies, and rhetoric: What are the visual effects created by the scientific ideals of objectivity, precision, and concision? What role do expressive choices such as color, contrast, foregrounding, etc. play in climate visualization? What negotiations, norms, or standards govern visualization practices in climate science? What role do climate pictures play in public debates on climate change; conversely, what role does public reaction to these pictures play in future visualizations? Speaker presentations challenge the notion that climate pictures convey climate futures to the public transparently, directly, and apolitically.
Birgit Schneider, University of Potsdam
Lynda Walsh, University of Nevada
James R. Fleming, Colby College
Birgit Schneider, University of Potsdam
Red Futures: The Use of Color in Scientific Climate Graphs
Michael E. Mann, Pennsylvania State University
The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: The Battle Continues