Presentation on theme: "The Dynamics of Discourse: Ideology, Science and Public Policy in the Kyoto Debate Dr. L. Graham Smith Department of Geography University of Western Ontario."— Presentation transcript:
The Dynamics of Discourse: Ideology, Science and Public Policy in the Kyoto Debate Dr. L. Graham Smith Department of Geography University of Western Ontario
debate over ratification of the Kyoto accord served as a window on the public awareness of climate change, global warming, greenhouse gasses and the correct public policy response to perceived scientific imperatives. served to highlight the role that ideology plays in the communication of these various concepts between scientists, politicians, stakeholder groups and the lay public illustrates the role of information arbitrage in public policy.
Premises climate change exemplifies the role that ideology plays in the use of science in public policy contemporary environmentalism is predicated upon a scientific imperative that both justifies its ideology and compels its acceptance within public policy environmentalism rests with the certitude of its science: if the science is unclear, inconclusive and/or contradictory, the ideology of environmentalism loses its power
Principles of Global Sustainability (Stasis) Natural resources are scarce Natural resources should be conserved Intergenerational equity should be maintained Modern technologies necessarily degrade the natural environment Environmental protection leads to sustainable economic development Government's role is central to ensuring sustainability
Global Climate Change: Stasist Perspective The world is experiencing unprecedented warm temperatures due to accelerating rates of greenhouse gasses primarily due to human use of fossil fuels This warming will have catastrophic effects and the world must act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions There is scientific consensus that most of the warming observed over the past 50 years is attributed to human activity
Global Climate Change: Stasist Perspective (Cont’d) Warmer temperatures are bad as they result in: more severe weather events increased air pollution more droughts decreased water quality increased flooding Solutions require increased government regulation of energy use, increased use of renewable soft energy options and decreased use of and dependency upon the automobile
Principles of Sustained Globalization (Dynamism) There are no permanent resource scarcities Increased consumption can increase the resource base and improve the economy and the environment Intergenerational equity does not exist Technological innovation improves environmental quality Economic development improves environmental quality Government intervention in economic and environmental activities often does more harm than good Markets and technological innovations protect people from vagaries of nature
Global Climate Change: Dynamist Perspective The global warming scare has little foundation in fact: historical climate records for the last 10,000 years record cycles including the Holocene maximum, the medieval climate optimum and the little ice age not only is climate change natural, temperatures today are neither unprecedented nor abnormal the science of climate change is very complex and beyond our present level of understanding
Global Climate Change: Dynamist Perspective Cont’d Predictions of climate warming are based on poorly developed models which: can not even provide accurate short-term forecasts are imprecise and rely heavily on economic and social conjecture for forecasting the future are routinely contradicted with respect to key components by empirical data Human-induced global warming is a theory with considerable scientific disagreement and dissent
Global Climate Change: Dynamist Perspective Cont’d The fraud of the warming scare is seen most vividly in that the solutions proposed: ignore nuclear power ignore increasing trends in reduced carbonization of world energy use focus on global re-distribution of wealth
Ideology and Discourse Why do environmental myths persist, even when science invalidates them? e.g. Why do environmental myths persist, even when science invalidates them? e.g. climate change deforestationdesertification What structures the public policy narrative? What structures the public policy narrative? science -- stakeholders -- education
Most people don't want raw data. They want information, or knowledge, or perhaps even wisdom. They want someone else to take the time to sift through the data, to select what is true or interesting or important, and to tell them about it. (Postrel) thus, in age of abundant media and new media communities, it is the age of the editor wherein producers and audiences create ‘powerful, overlapping communities with far different assumptions from those of the mass media’ (Postrel) Bloggers
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