Conclusions of early development

The early development of climate science appears to be driven in part by actors and actor networks in the natural sciences beginning with their interest in the ice ages but with time also increasingly shaped by society's needs for better weather forecasting. There were emerging international networks between scientists interested in the Arctic illustrated by the international polar years, among scientists in general illustrated by an emerging international research organization, and also among meteorological offices. The emerging networks mirrored changes in international society. They were facilitated by new possibilities in travel and had an increasing emphasis on communication across national borders. Collaborations appear to be driven by professional organizations rather than by states. This mirrors an international society where nationalism was a fundamental structure and where international regimes had yet to appear as important for coordinating state activities. While the cooperation among meteorological offices resulted in

38 ICSU was later renamed International Council for Science;

Weart, "The Discovery of Global Warming", International-2; ICSU, "About ICSU. A Brief History," (Accessed 19 Oct. 2004).

39 Gösta Liljequist, "Det Internationella Geofysiska Äret 1957-58 - den moderna polarforskningens startar," in Polarforskning. Förr, nu och i framtiden, ed. Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, 24-33 (Stockholm: Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences, 1982).

40 IPY 2007-2008, "History of IPY," (Accessed 13 Apr. 2007).

the creation of the IMO, the polar efforts did not leave any pan-Arctic organizational legacy. A possible explanation was that the Arctic was seen too much in relation to nationalistic interests. The scientific communities that had taken an interest in long-term climate changes and other fundamental geophysical issues also started to organize internationally and took part in creating ICSU as a non-governmental organization. Even if there are no sign of formal governmental cooperation in areas related to climate research, the emerging international networks, exemplified by the IMO and ICSU, were the seeds for a future global climate regime.

Between mid-1800s until the end of World War II the Arctic can be described as a periphery to central colonial powers within the nation states with Arctic territories. Science played a central role in framing the Arctic in nationalistic terms, even if some individual scientists became increasingly interested in overcoming the limits that national borders imposed on Arctic research. There are also examples of counterpoints to the nationalistic ideals in efforts by individual scientists to use science as a means to establish better international relations.42 In spite of some examples of international agreements in the Arctic, the internationalist initiatives of the first two polar years did not affect this basic focus on nation states and their interests within the international system. Rather, Arctic development is better understood in the same light as the global development at the time, where international regimes were a way for colonial powers to assert their interests in their territories, whether it concerned threatened species or economically important resources.43 The Arctic situation is also compatible with observations that internationalist developments in science from the late 1800s to the 1930s did not leave the nationalistic tendencies of science behind. Even if better communications, such as the railroads, allowed scientists to travel and collaborate, this was also a time when the ideology of nation-building was strong and where science was part of this effort. 44

In the Arctic, the war years, especially World War II, created a political and military situation in which international collaboration became more and more precarious.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment