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Explicit and implicit ethical issues in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: the example of the “tipping points” metaphor

Questions éthiques explicites et implicites dans les rapports du GIEC : l’exemple de la métaphore des « points de bascule »
Marie-Hélène Fries
p. 9-27

Abstracts

Climate change is a both a cause of concern (in the English-speaking world and beyond) and a wide-ranging field of research, situated at the crossroads between science and technology, economics and politics. It is linked to major socio-scientific controversies, in which issues linked with ethics play a major role, from a deontic as well as an epistemic perspective. The main objective in this article is to explore the ethical points of view expressed in the Assessment Reports of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) both explicitly, through the occurrences of the words “ethics”, “morals” and their derivatives, and implicitly, through the use of the metaphorical terms contained in the IPCC reports. Terms based on metaphors constitutive of climate change theories are focused on, in order to examine in which ways they can express ethical values implicitly. This perspective is developed with the example of “tipping points”.

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Excerpt

Full text document will be published online on November 2020.

Outline

Introduction
1. Explicit ethical points of view in the IPCC reports
2. Implicit ethics, metaphorical terms and theory-constitutive metaphors in the IPCC reports
3. “Tipping points” and implicit ethics in the IPCC Assessment Reports
Conclusion

First lines

Introduction

The issue of anthropogenic climate change first came into the limelight in 1975, with the publication of a research article by Wallace Smith Broecker, a geochemist at Columbia University, entitled “Climatic change: Are we on the brink of a pronounced global warming?.” It has since developed into a large interdisciplinary research area ranging from climate sciences to economics, which has also involved the development of myriads of conferences (including the UN Conferences of the Parties) and publications, among which a new journal introduced by Nature, called Nature Climate Change. All this research work has fostered a growing awareness of the human-induced nature of climate change in public opinion worldwide and in political circles. The United Nations, in particular, has been playing an active role in climate change mitigation both politically, from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (1992) and the subsequent Conferences of the parties (COP) to o...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Marie-Hélène Fries, « Explicit and implicit ethical issues in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: the example of the “tipping points” metaphor », ASp, 76 | 2019, 9-27.

Electronic reference

Marie-Hélène Fries, « Explicit and implicit ethical issues in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: the example of the “tipping points” metaphor », ASp [Online], 76 | 2019, Online since 01 November 2020, connection on 28 January 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/asp/5945 ; DOI : 10.4000/asp.5945

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About the author

Marie-Hélène Fries

Marie-Hélène Fries teaches scientific English at the University of Grenoble-Alpes, France. Her research interests are focused on the uses of metaphors in scientific discourse, ranging from scientific articles to science-fiction. She has published a book on metaphors linked to nanotechnology in the US (Nanomonde et Nouveau Monde, 2016). marie-helene.fries@univ-grenoble-alpes.fr

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