School of Earth and Environment

Dr James Porter

Research Fellow

Telephone number: +44(0) 113 34 31635
Email address:
Room: 9.118


As a human geographer, my work specialises in how institutional politics shapes the production, and in turn, use of environmental knowledge for policy, through the lens of science and technology studies (STS) and the management of risk/uncertainty. In June 2012, I took up a Research Fellowship on advancing knowledge systems in climate adaptation decisions, otherwise known as the ICAD project, working alongside Professor Suraje Dessai at the Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, at the University of Leeds.


  • PhD in Human Geography and Science and Technology Studies (King's College London)
  • MRes (Dist.) in Environment, Society & Politics (King's College London)
  • BA hons. (First) in Geography (King's College London)


  • Royal Geographical Society
  • Association of American Geographers
  • Institution of Civil Engineers

Research Interests

I have a wide range of interests but they mostly centre around the way environmental science and policy come to interact and affect each other, for example, in the context of co-producing flood risk science and spatial planning. My PhD traced the origins, production and use of the Environment Agency’s flood risk maps and how decisions over what to include (or exclude) from the modelling reveal various practical considerations, at once technical and institutional-political, which affected the flood outlines generated. That is, striding for accurate science is not always synonymous with politically defensible science.

As part of the ICAD project, I have traced the way climate knowledge develops, and by extension changes, as it travels across different production sites, such as at the Met Office and later via specialist consultancies, to where it is eventually applied. How, and why, for example, does climate knowledge come to take a particular form for decision-making? Focusing on the key role played by climate experts and increasingly specialist consultancies in the construction, verification, and interpretation of climate information, this research revolves around the UK's latest climate projections, UKCP09, the UK's first Climate Change Risk Assessment, CCRA, the emergence of specialist consultancies, and local authorities; and seeks to understand what effect, if any, do these actors have on the kind of climate knowledge that gets produced.

Support duties

  • Secretary for the Climate Change Research Group (CCRG), at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS); 2012-14.


PORTER, J.; Dessai, S.; & Tompkins, E. (Accepted) What do we know about UK household adaptation to climate change? A systematic review, Climatic Change.

PORTER, J. (2014) Letters: Learning to Live with Flooding, London Evening Standard, 11th February.

PORTER, J. & Randalls, S. (2014) Politics of Expectations: Nature, Culture and the Production of Space, Special Issue, Geoforum.

PORTER, J. (2013) Markets Bad, Academia Good: Review of Philip Mirowski's Science Mart, Environmental and Planning D.

PORTER, J. (2013) End of Project Report -Making "Social" Scientists: Institutionalising Interaction in Neuroscience, Wellcome Turst,

Kent, N.; PORTER, J.; Dessai, S.; Miller, K.; Winne, S.; Sibile, R.; Horrocks, L.; Dale, N.; Lonsdale, K.; and Ballard, D. (2013) PREPARE - The contribution and role of local and household level adaptation in overal UK adaptation, Final Report for ERG1211 for Defra.

PORTER, J. (2013) Are Two Heads Better Than One? Changing Dynamics of Collaboration in the Modern World, Science as Culture.

PORTER, J.; Dessai, S. and Tang, S. (2012) Climate Scenarios, Decision-Making and Uncertainty: Do Users Need What They Want? Policy and Practice Note 1, Project ICAD.

PORTER, J. and Demeritt, D. (2012) Flood Risk Management, Mapping and Planning: The Institutional Politics of Decision-Support in England, Environment & Planning A. DOI: 10.1068/a44660

PORTER, J. (2012) The Stuff of Politics? A Book Review of Braun and Whatmore's Political Matter, Cultural Geographies, 19, 417-418. DOI: 10.1177/1474474012436484

PORTER, J.; Williams, C.; Wainwright, S.; and Cribb, A. (2012) On Being a (Modern) Scientist: Risks of Public Engagement in the Interspeies Embryo Debate, New Genetics & Society. DOI: 10.1080/14636778.2012.687138

PORTER, J. (2012) End of Project Report - On Being a (Modern) Scientist: Risks of Public Engagement in the Interspecies Embryo Debate, Wellcome Trust.

PORTER, J. (2011) Funding Review Report - London and Brighton Translational Research Ethics Centre, Progress Review for the Wellcome Trust.

PORTER, J. (2010) The Extreme Flood Outline: Co-Producing Flood Risk Mapping and Spatial Planning in England, PhD Thesis (unpublished), King's College London.

PORTER, J. (2009) Lost in Translation: The Story of Consistency in Managing the "Risk" of Flood Maps, King's Risk Symposium.