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Module 8: Environmental risks, complexity and Post Normal Science Environmental risks: problems of irreversibility Complexity, ignorance and “objectivity.

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Presentation on theme: "Module 8: Environmental risks, complexity and Post Normal Science Environmental risks: problems of irreversibility Complexity, ignorance and “objectivity."— Presentation transcript:

1 Module 8: Environmental risks, complexity and Post Normal Science Environmental risks: problems of irreversibility Complexity, ignorance and “objectivity of science” Post Normal Science

2 Environmental risks Irreversibility: for example biodiversity reduction Complexity: not possible to know neither the probability, neither the possible outcomes. It implies ignorance

3 Complexity Ecological system are dynamic, self adaptive Small changes in the input can produce big changes in the output Do we know the “irreversibility threshold”?

4 “Objectivity” of science How can a scientific model be objective? How can 1% or 5% confidence be objective statistical tools? How far can complexity be reduced by making better models and better tests? OutcomeProbability Risk knownknown Uncertainty knownunknown Ignorance unknownunknown Do we need prudence? Precaution? On the base of what can scientist take decisions concerning other people’s lives? (high stakes in decision making) How far are scientists independent when tey only work in the R&D department of a powerful company? How far are scientific statements beoming dogmas? “In the name of science and progress”

5 Post-normal science Normal science: Kuhn, “the structure of the scientific revolution” Post-normal science: Funtowicz and Ravetz: “where facts are uncertain, values in dispute, stakes high and decisions urgent” uncertainties Decision stakes Applied normal science Professional consultancy Post-normal science Science should admit irreducible complexity and ignorance Peer community review and lay people opinion (paricipation, direct democracy) From substantive rationality to procedural rationality Substantive rationality = optimal solution; one way flow of info Procedural rationality = satisficing solution; two-way dialogue

6 Bibliography and websites Giampietro, Mario. 2002: The Precautionary Principle and Ecological Hazards of Genetically Modified Organisms. AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment: Vol. 31, No. 6, pp. 466–470 (available to photocopy from the Int. Rel. Office) O’Connor, M., Faucheux, S., Froger, G., Funtowicz, S and Munda, G.: “Emergent complexity and procedural rationality: post-normal science for sustainability” in Costanza, R., Segura, O. and Martinez- Alier, J., 1996: “Getting down to earth : practical applications of ecological economics” (in LIUC library L GET and also available to photocopy from the Int. Rel. Office) Strand, R.: “Crazy theory”(available to photocopy from the Int. Rel. Office) Strand, R.: “The role of risk assessments in the governance of genetically modified organisms in agriculture ” Journal of Hazardous Materials 86 (2001) European Environmental Agency: “Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle ”


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