Metatheorising and Climate Change
There have been a number of papers presented recently dealing with the topic of climate change and metatheorising. Papers by Sean Esbjorn-hargens and Michael Zimmerman and the recent 2009 special issue of the Journal of Integral Theory and Practice come from the AQAL informed streams and there are others from more general metatheoreitcal perspectives (see for example literature quoted in the call for papers by Wittneben, B, Okereke, C, Banerjee, B & Levy, D (2009)). This is a natural topic for meta-level studies to deal with.
First, it's a global issue and the relevance of metatheorising is directly connected with the emergence of global cires and the problems that are confronting us as a planet.
Second, it is an area of great contention and of varying theorietical, emotional, political and economic interests. Contentious topics are great areas for working with meta-level theories and methods because there is so much potential for connection and differentiation - the key activities of metatheorising.
Third it's an area that is intimately concerned with our visions of the future and how we can plan for and design inteventions that are multifaceted, integrated, holisitic, and pluralistic.
The reality is that climate change will be the most crucial event of the 21st century and it may already be too late for us to avoid the mass extinctions and environmental changes that appear now to be unavoidable. In his recent speech on the topic to the Royal Society of the Arts "Is It Too Late to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change?"
Clive Hamilton pointed out that: "One of the most striking features of the global warming debate has been how, with each advance in climate science, the news keeps getting worse."
It appears now that 4 degree increase in global temperatures is very likely and this will trigger bioshere changes that are irreversible and profound. So we have a situation where integral metatheorists and other big picture researchers are saying that some form of meta-level studies is crucial for the dealing with this phenomenon - either for adaptation or mitigation. But metatheorising is also about the balancing and inclusion of multiple views. My question is where can that balance be found given the dramatic actions that will need to be taken to avoid catastrophic climate change.
Should metatheorising try to include all views even when those views may be endangering human sustainability? Is the task integration endangering the responsibility to advocate particualr visions. And what does that mean for the goals and methods of doing metatheory? Are our ideals of being "integral" rendering us impotent to present a particular way forward? Is the maxim of "true but partial" reducing integral visions to "balanced and irrelevant"?