C-SEF Seminar: Alexandra Coțofană, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates
Atmospheric Epistemologies - ways of creating knowledge about cloud seeding
Alexandra Coțofană, Assistant Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, Zayed University, United Arab Emirates and 2023 CIRES Sabbatical Visiting Fellow
As seen most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, science literacy has experienced a drastic decline amongst the general public. While this concern has been brought to the forefront of public debate now more than in the past, science literacy of the general public has been experiencing a dramatic decline for decades, across the board of scientific fields. Specifically, cloud seeding has been targeted in a larger conspiracy theory narrative that claims meteorologists and politicians are working hand in hand, falsifying and controlling science against the greater good. This has, in turn, led to global mass protests against what protesters are calling ‘geoengineering’. These misplaced civil society efforts end up slowing down scientific progress and deepen the divide between the general public and their capacity for greater science literacy.
The project revolves around the concept of atmospheric epistemologies, or ways of making knowledge about clouds and the atmosphere. The project is a mirrored ethnography that analyzes, on the one hand, the ways in which scientists produce knowledge about cloud-seeding and the atmosphere, and, on the other hand, ways in which the general population produces knowledge about the same topics. The project offers a new approach to STS, as well as the study of knowledge production in two communities that are epistemologically opposed.
Dr. Cotofana is visiting CU as a 2023 CIRES Sabbatical Visiting Fellow to work with Matt Burgess on exploring how political polarization affects the views of scientists and citizens of cloud seeding as a method of combating drought. Colorado, as a state that invests in cloud-seeding technology, has substantial political diversity and also houses some of the world's leading climate science hubs, making it an ideal place to study this.
This seminar will be in-person and live-streamed.
C-SEF's Here and Now seminars focus on questions pertaining to how we can move forward in addressing environmental problems immediately, such as adaptation, environmental policy, links between public and private sectors, resource management, and resilience, among others.