Kath Weston is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia. A Guggenheim Fellow and two-time winner of the Ruth Benedict Prize, Weston is the author of several books, including
What would it mean to take North American climate change skepticism seriously when people assert that global warming cannot be happening because it is not particularly hot out and the observer has hardly broken a sweat? Although many have characterized such claims as antiscience, intimate appeals to the evidence that bodies can provide are not necessarily strangers to scientific inquiry. Researchers have utilized their bodies as testing, measuring, and tracking devices since the very birth of empiricism. As scholars and policymakers have come to realize that “the latest data” alone may not be enough to prompt the action needed to confront climate change, they have sought to understand what other factors might be involved. Cultural histories of embodied empiricism and the tensions associated with the rise of Big Science can help explain why some climate change skeptics insist on wielding the body as an instrument to make judgments about conditions that enliven or imperil it.