Climate change is now a reality for many people globally and the impacts are felt across many sectors of society. Critically, there remains a gap between the production and use of climate information that has a direct impact on decision making. This paper, by WCRP My Climate Risk Lighthouse Activity Chairs, Regina Rodrigues and Ted Shepherd, looks at what climate-change science might look like if it was structured “as if people mattered”, following insights provided in economics by E.F. Schumacher in his celebrated book ‘Small is Beautiful’. Using a case study in Eastern South America, Rodrigues and Shepherd show that local situations can be complex and there are many uncertainties. They explain that “we need to empower local communities to be able to make sense of their own situation, which can be addressed by developing methodologies for producing and analyzing climate information that build trust and transparency.” They argue that whilst much of climate-change science is necessarily big science, in order to make climate information useable for adaptation, it is also necessary to discover the beauty of smallness.

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Rodrigues R. R. and T. G. Shepherd, 2022. Small is beautiful: climate-change science as if people mattered. PNAS Nexus, 2022, 1, 1–9.

Small is beautiful: climate-change science as if people mattered