How the Hadley Centre came to be … 30 years ago

Thirty years ago last week, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher opened the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction (now the Hadley Centre for Cliamate Science and Services). The current Director – Albert Klein Tank – has offered a brief ‘perspective‘ and ‘prospective‘ view of the Centre’s past and future. Notably, the founding Director – Sir John Houghton – died just over a month ago, aged 88.

The founding of the Hadley Centre was a huge moment for British climate science and a significant element in the establishment of the emergence climatic globalism which has shaped the cultural- and geo-politics of climate change in the intervening decades. A few years ago, Martin Mahony and I published in the journal Minerva an historical account of the why and how the Hadley Centre came to be. We showed how it sustained Britain’s epistemic sovereignty with regards to climate science and how it contributed significantly to the ‘co-production’ — to use Sheila Jasanoff’s constitutive meaning of the term – of the new climatic world ordering that the IPCC was on the cusp of commencing. The Hadley Centre remains a significant scientific institution and continues tacitly to serve Britiain’s national interests through its science diplomacy and its worldwide projection of the nation’s epistemic power.

The Hadley Centre is one of the more unexpected legacies of Margaret Thatcher and the politics of the 1980s.