A climate for feminist intervention: Feminist science studies and climate change

Andrei L. Israel, Carolyn Sachs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

38 Scopus citations


For many years, climate change discourse was dominated by a technicalscientific framing based on modernist notions of objective knowledge, control, and efficiency. In recent years, a robust alternative discourse of climate justice has emerged, challenging mainstream adaptation and mitigation policies as reinforcing capitalist, colonialist, and patriarchal power structures and further marginalizing already vulnerable peoples and communities. But while the climate justice movement has provided a sorely needed corrective to climate change discourse, it has been hampered by addressing only policy issues without critically examining the scientific knowledge on which climate change discourse is based. Drawing on critiques of science and technology from ecofeminism and feminist science studies, we argue that scientific knowledge is always already structured by social power relations before it ever enters into policy discussions. In place of the (illusory) God-trick of absolute knowledge and control of the global climate system, we use Haraway’s ideas of feminist objectivity, partial perspective, relations between species, and cyborg standpoints to situate and pluralize knowledge about climate change. This intervention opens up discursive space for multiple, partial knowledge about the climate system, all of which can be held accountable to their ethical and political implications. This pluralization of knowledge allows feminists to recognize and support many forms and venues of climate change-related activism, moving beyond the impasses of international and national political negotiations. Thus, far from dismissing climate change, a feminist critique of climate science makes possible a range of interventions that can more effectively promote social justice and ecological health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch, Action and Policy
Subtitle of host publicationAddressing the Gendered Impacts of Climate Change
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9789400755185
ISBN (Print)9789400755178
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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