A region of particular interest to climate science has been the Arctic. There are several reasons for this. First, its physical characteristics, such as the predominance of snow and ice, create feedback mechanisms that are important for understanding the global climate change. Second, climate models project larger and more rapid changes in climate in the Arctic than anywhere else globally. Third, there have been an increasing number of signs from parts of the Arctic that the climate has started to change. This also makes the Arctic politically important, as the region could be a showcase for assertions that climate change is happening here and now and therefore requires immediate political actions to halt emissions of greenhouse gases.
10 Frank Biermann, "Whose Experts? The Role of Geographic Representation in Global Environmental Assessments," in Global Environmental Assessments: Information and Influence, eds. Ronald B. Mitchell, William C. Clark, David W. Cash, and Nancy M. Dickson, 87-112 (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2006).
11 Mattias Hjerpe and Björn-Ola Linner, "Mapping synergies between climate change and trade agreements at different scales." Paper presented at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in Chicago Feb. 28-Mar. 3, 2007.
12 Henrik Selin and Stacy D. VanDeveer, "Political Science and Prediction: What's Next for the U.S. Climate Change Policy?," Review of Policy Research 24, no. 1 (2007): 1.
13 Sheila Jasanoff and Marybeth Long Martello, eds. Earthly Politics: Local and Global in Environmental Governance (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004).
The Arctic is also an interesting arena in relation to environmental governance and the role of knowledge. Since the end of the Cold War, it has emerged as a region with innovative international institutions, with the Arctic Council as a high-level intergovernmental forum. Environmental cooperation and knowledge production are at the heart of the Artic Council's activities.14 The cooperation includes not only nation states but also the indigenous peoples of the regions, who have played a key role in pushing Arctic concerns in international environmental agenda setting.15 Their increasing participation at both the international level and in local co-management of resources has created a dynamic that questions the exclusive prominence of conventional western science as the basis for policy making.16 Furthermore it does so in ways that highlight the relationship between knowledge production and power structures.17 Questions of who has the right to speak for nature and whose knowledge should guide policy come to the fore, i.e. questions that lie close to how certain knowledge claims can gain privilege in framing an issue such as climate change.
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