Mathis Hampel studied BSc Geography at Graz University/Austria and BSc Ecosystem Analysis at Lunds University/Sweden. He holds an MSc in Geography from Exeter University writing a dissertation on Net Primary Production (NPP) as indicator of climatic stress in the Sudan.
He joined King's College in 2011. His research on the authority of climate science in decision making benefits from his interest in and knowledge of the science of climate change.
Mathis is also affiliated to the 3S (Science, Society, Sustainability) Research Group at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.
Research interests (short)
Scientific controversies, the history and geography of science, and the role of climate science in political conflicts
Member of the Hazards and Risk research group.
Because the authority of science is thought to legitimise governmental regulations to restrict the emission of so-called greenhouse gases (GHGs), in this thesis I study the making of authoritative scientific knowledge through the lens of a controversy about climate reconstruction. While controversies in climate science are typically explained with vested interests that have turned an innocent form of knowledge into the chaste victim of the political opponent’s misuse, I draw on insights from science studies to illuminate a more nuanced and symmetrical critique on climate science, the theory of anthropogenic global warming (AGW), and climate reconstruction in particular.
To that end, the thesis focuses on three interconnected ideas that dominate the controversy: the idea of an objective scientific method, which places emphasis on the empirical testing of theory; the idea of an unbiased expert, which shifts my analytical focus onto norms and markers of expertise; and the overarching idea of science legitimising political programmes of action, which both sides in the debate subscribe to. First, climate reconstruction promises to be an empirical test for the scientific theory of AGW. But in the controversy over an iconic reconstruction, so-called climate sceptics accuse scientists of having violated the scientific method. Second, in public investigations examining these allegations, the scientists and their critics draw on scientific norms to contest respective claims to expertise. Third, in consequence of these inquiries and the so-called ‘Climategate’ affair, which corroborated the critics, independent scientists re-analyse climate reconstruction: if climate science legitimises policies aiming at the restriction of GHG emissions, its authority qua science will have to be re-established. The deference to science in difficult political decisions so puts a heavy burden on the former and obstructs the latter – it characterises the climate change debate in the United States. Further research on the role of science in the politics of climate change would profit from taking more explicitly political cultures into account.
Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals
In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):
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Hampel, M., 2014
Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of PhilosophyFile