Scope & Content: Recognizing the Many Climate Change Narratives

Climate change intersects with the archives profession in multiple ways, and these intersections challenge ProjectARCC to define our scope.

This project is not just about fighting climate change, but recognizing that the world is already changing. Regardless of how an individual or an institution feels about the existence of climate change or whether it is anthropogenic, the phenomena of hurricane and blizzard superstorms underscore the need for better disaster planning in our repositories. Furthermore, climate change research, debate, and activism are relevant to our time, and we have a responsibility to preserve this period in history. ProjectARCC seeks to collaborate with repositories and creators of climate change materials to assist in preservation of the intellectual and community labor produced around this topic.

Climate change activism is often connected to other environmental causes, and as these affect social and political landscapes worldwide, they are important to document. After Pope Francis’s recent encyclical, Laudato Si’, took a firm stance on environmental stewardship, and advocate Neeshad Vs published “How Islamic Faith Supports Pope Francis’ Climate Change Encyclical,” it is clear that climate change activism is now part of religious landscapes as well. Archivists need to acknowledge movements like these — not only their existence but the specific arguments and goals they espouse. This includes opposite or differing perspectives on climate change or environmental matters, but as we have found, there are more than two sides to recognize.

We realized that thinking of anthropogenic climate change as debate is too simple a way of looking at this concept. It speaks to a particular perspective in which climate change is just an argument between news pundits rather than something people experience. Our work will facilitate archives to better understand and collect climate change-related materials.

Climate change and environmental justice activism, scientific research, changes in biodiversity, and experiences of communities already witnessing the impacts of extreme weather all tell part of the climate change story. For people in South Pacific island nations, for example, there are not two sides to the climate change issue; there isn’t even one issue. Even within activist groups or the renewable energy industry, there are debates about how best to address climate change from scientific, policy, and human perspectives. We seek to use our professional skills to raise awareness of as many facets of this web of thought and action as possible so that repositories can preserve them.
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To some, this may seem like too political a mission for a profession tasked with keeping humanity’s history. However, part of being an archivist is recognizing the significance of historical events and making sure they are preserved. That act is one of archival power, much like the recognition of civil rights, the discovery of holes in the ozone layer, political upheaval, or any period of great change as important to preserve. The work of archivists is inherently political in that our actions all take place within and have impact on the communities of which we are citizens, and ProjectARCC operates on the belief that climate change is significant to those communities.

ProjectARCC is the culmination of strong beliefs channeled through professional endeavors. Our project missions call on us to use outreach, appraisal, description, and myriad other aspects of our professional training to encourage the documentation and permanent preservation of this issue at the intersection of science, politics, and culture. The first step in our work is acknowledging the complex scope of materials and experiences related to climate change to be preserved for a rapidly-changing future.

– Genna Duplisea

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2 Comments

  1. “this may seem like too political a mission for a profession” if becomes political and one sided when the links represent only one point of view
    a posting to the A&A list last week made mention of “97% of scientists” as well as expressing an opinion about Arctic oil drilling by Shell
    the 97% item has been debunked numerous times most recently in the Wall Street Journal
    “The Myth of the Climate Change ‘97%’
    What is the origin of the false belief—constantly repeated—that almost all scientists agree about global warming?”
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702303480304579578462813553136

    97 Articles Refuting The ‘97% Consensus’ on global warming
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/12/19/97-articles-refuting-the-97-consensus-on-global-warming/

    I agree that it is important that archives are aware of the effects that climate can have on their materials and how to protect those materials, but do try to keep this project as apolitical as possible. if you provide links be sure and present both sides of the story. don’t state something as fact when in their is doubt. good luck with your efforts

    Like

  2. @pak152 I don’t want this to turn into a flame war, but I disagree with your point of view. Climate change caused by humans is irrefutable. (And even if it wasn’t caused by humans and is some natural thing that happens, it doesn’t change the fact that it is happening and something needs to be done.) I am glad that thoughtful and considerate archivists are taking this project on, despite vocal opposition from those like yourself. It shows courage and fortitude, Thank you ProjectARCC for doing the right thing and working to secure the archival record on climate change.

    Liked by 1 person

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