1.1 Oceanography, photography, and possession in the south east Pacific, Chile, and Peru

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 11:00 AM
4C-4 (Washington State Convention Center)
Denzil Ford, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

This paper examines interactions and translations that occurred between Pacific Islands, Latin America, and the United States during the period when climate change emerged as a worldwide environmental problem. In the early 1950s, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography began investigating the climate in part by quantifying atmospheric carbon dioxide on oceanic expeditions. The first set of results prompted scientists to begin continuous measurements at the sea surface and at high altitudes, which by 1960 was published as the Keeling Curve, one of the most iconic representations of carbon dioxide accumulation today. Importantly, as the American scientists travelled on the expeditions and worked, they communicated with Pacific Islanders and Latin Americans. My study will show that cross-cultural exchanges were an essential component of the knowledge-making practices in the Pacific. Through analysis of a set of photographic images taken at sea and on land, I will show how Scripps scientists – perhaps unconsciously - acted out a hierarchy of knowledges in the Pacific Ocean. Thus, I will present an historical example of how people have come together transnationally while attempting to understand the climate. Two primary questions posed for this year's AMS conference are: How do we as a Society and as individuals become better communicators, public speakers, and advocates for the weather and climate enterprise and how do we provide our diverse audiences more opportunities to communicate with us? This paper suggests that both of these issues can be addressed by understanding the historical circumstances in which climate was made global across diverse cultures and geographies and perhaps questioning the “us versus them” framework embedded in our own language.
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