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Democracy and Expertise: Lessons from the Debate over Global Warming
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Democracy and Expertise: Lessons from the Debate over Global Warming

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An investigation of the role of scientific expertise in the climate change debate and its consequences for democratic governance.

An investigation of the role of scientific expertise in the climate change debate and its consequences for democratic governance.

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Democracy and Expertise: Lessons from the Debate over Global Warming Democracy and Expertise: Lessons from the Debate over Global Warming Document Transcript

  • Democracy  and  Expertise:  Lessons  from  the  Debate  over  Global  Warming     Whereas  the  role  of  the  technical  expert  in  democratic  decision-­‐making  was  formerly  seen  to  be  the  provision  of  disinterested  advice  for  use  in  policy  formulation,  their  capacity  in  this  regard  is  increasingly  under  question.    Many  argue  that  expertise  is  in  fact  vulnerable  to  politicization  for  self-­‐serving  ends,  due  in  part  to  the  unachievable  nature  of  objectivity,  and  hence  not  as  infallible  as  was  once  thought.    Science  is  now  often  viewed  as  ‘politics  by  other  means’.1    As  a  result  technical  knowledge  is  increasingly  being  contested  in  the  public  sphere,  by  expert  and  lay  groups  alike.2    This  paper  will  address  the  extent  to  which  this  contestation  either  enhances  or  hinders  democratic  governance.     In  order  to  address  this  issue  I  will  be  investigating  the  debate  surrounding  anthropogenic  climate  change.    Despite  the  apparent  consensus  on  its  existence  and  human  causes,  this  issue,  and  the  adequacy  of  scientific  expertise  surrounding  it,  has  been  hotly  contested  in  recent  years.3    I  will  seek  to  analyse  the  nature  of  this  contestation,  its  implications  for  the  formulation  of  climate  change  policy,  and  for  the  conflict  between  expertise  and  democracy.    From  this  discussion,  I  will  suggest  ways  in  which  this  conflict  can  be  nullified.    Initially  though,  I  shall  begin  with  an  investigation  of  expertise  and  its  place  in  democracy.    Expertise  and  Democracy     The  use  of  scientific  expertise  in  democratic  decision-­‐making  has,  throughout  the  modern  period,  been  governed  by  the  ideal  of  neutrality.    Under  this  traditional  (Western)  model,  scientific  experts  are  presumed  detached  from                                                                                                                  1  Bruno  Latour,  quoted  in  Mark  B.  Brown,  Science  in  Democracy:  Expertise,  Institutions,  and  Representation,  London,  MIT  Press,  2009,  p.  185.  2  Ibid,  pp.  2-­‐3.  3  Jacquelin  Burgess,  et  al.,  ‘Global  Warming  in  the  Public  Sphere,’  Philosophical  Transactions:  Mathematical,  Physical  and  Engineering  Sciences,  Vol.  365,  No.  1860,  2007,  2751.     1  
  • the  political,  social  and  cultural  processes  underlying  the  societies  which  they  inhabit  such  that  they  may  provide  objective  and  value  neutral  advice  to  political  representatives.    Consequently,  while  part  of  the  political  process,  experts  and  expert  advice  are  deemed  apolitical.4    The  authority  of  their  advice,  and  hence  their  legitimacy  within  the  democratic  system,  is  premised  on  the  supposed  attainability  of  scientific  certainty  through  the  use  of  the  scientific  method.5    This  image  of  the  expert  as  the  disinterested  and  authoritative  arbiter  has,  however,  been  challenged  since  the  mid  twentieth-­‐century  by  the  growing  awareness  of  limits  to  expert  knowledge,  and  the  perception  that  bias  and  special  interests  are  influencing  the  conduct  of  scientific  knowledge  generation.6    The  very  public  nature  of  contestation  and  controversy  in  scientific  discourse,  such  as  that  witnessed  during  the  global  warming  debate  is,  at  least  in  part,  responsible  for  this  reformulation.    For  rather  than  expertise  ‘speaking  truth  to  power’,  scientific  experts  are  often  viewed  as  an  interest  group  like  any  other.7     It  is  indeed  the  case  that  research,  from  which  expert  knowledge  and  advice  is  generated,  is  to  a  large  degree  directed  by  government  and  commercial  funding.    Often  dependent  upon  external  sources  for  funding  streams,  expert  bodies  are  rarely  in  total  control  of  their  research  programs.8    For  example,  the  use  by  Western  governments  of  mechanisms  such  as  tax  credits  and  favourable                                                                                                                  4  Brown,  Science  in  Democracy,  pp.  9-­‐10.  5  I  take  ‘scientific  method’  to  indicate  inquiry  based  upon  the  gathering  of  empirical  data  and  testing  of  hypotheses,  both  through  the  use  of  reason  and  instrumental  rationality.    Raphael  Sassower,  Knowledge  without  Expertise:  On  the  Status  of  Scientists,  Albany,  State  University  of  New  York  Press,  1993,  p.  69.  6  Brian  Martin  and  Eveleen  Richards,  ‘Scientific  Knowledge,  Controversy,  and  Public  Decision  Making,’  in  Sheila  Jasanoff  et  al.  (eds.),  Handbook  of  Science  and  Technology  Studies,  Thousand  Oaks,  SAGE  Publications,  1995,  pp.  506-­‐507.  7  Clark  A.  Miller,  ‘Challenges  in  the  Application  of  Science  to  Global  Affairs:  Contingency,  Trust,  and  Moral  Order,’  in  Paul  N.  Edwards  and  Clark  A.  Miller  (eds.),  Changing  the  Atmosphere:  Expert  Knowledge  and  Environmental  Governance,  Cambridge,  MIT  Press,  2001,  p.  278.    For  an  example  of  this  line  of  argument  see  S.  A.  Boehmer-­‐Christiansen,  ‘Britain  and  the  International  Panel  on  Climate  Change:  The  Impacts  of  Scientific  Advice  on  Global  Warming  Part  1:  Integrated  Policy  Analysis  and  the  Global  Dimension’,  Environmental  Politics,  Vol.  4,  No.  1,  1995,  pp.  15-­‐16.  8  Roy  Macleod,  ‘Science  and  Democracy:  Historical  Reflections  on  Present  Discontents,’  Minerva,  Vol.  35,  1997,  p.  374.     2  
  • patent  policies,  coupled  with  commercial  sector  funding  of  industrial  labs,  has  helped  guide  scientific  research  towards  profit-­‐orientated  applications.9    Experts,  moreover,  are  now  often  in  the  employ  of  governments,  advocacy  groups,  NGOs,  and  commercial  entities,  which  seek  to  use  the  authority  of  expertise  to  garner  support  for  their  particular  policy  goals.10    Such  activity  undermines  the  ‘truth  to  power’  model,  and  its  assumption  of  a  linear  relationship  between  neutral  scientific  knowledge  and  its  subsequent  use  in  policy  formulation,  by  appearing  to  align  expertise  with  particular  interest  groups.11         This  realisation  of  the  political  usage  of  scientific  expertise  has  been  accompanied  by  an  appreciation  of  the  political  nature  of  scientific  knowledge  itself.    Instead  of  such  knowledge  being  seen  as  an  objective  representation  of  nature,  or  verifiable  truth,  it  is  now  widely  understood  to  involve  the  negotiated  outcome  of  interactions  between  experts  and  the  outside  world.12    These  interactions  are  necessarily  affected  by  social,  cultural,  and  political  concerns,  which  in  turn  influence  the  content  of  those  engagements.13    Manifested  in  the  laying  down  of  assumptions,  and  the  interpretation  of  uncertainties,  these  interactions  can  result  in  very  different  representations  of  nature,  in  what  is  ultimately  a  human  and  constrained  exercise.14    Nonetheless,  the  authority  granted  to  scientific  expertise  in  contemporary  democratic  decision-­‐making  continues  to  be  grounded  in  ideals  of  ethical  and  value  neutrality.15    Scientists  are  thus  expected  to  be  infallible,  removed  from  the  sphere  of  moral  or  political                                                                                                                  9  Brown,  Science  in  Democracy,  pp.  10-­‐11.  10  Alan  Irwin,  Citizen  Science:  A  Study  of  People,  Expertise,  and  Sustainable  Development,  London,  Routledge,  1995,  p.  9.  11  Esther  Turnhout,  ‘Heads  in  the  Clouds:  Knowledge  Democracy  as  a  Utopian  Dream,’  in  Roeland  J.  in  ‘t  Veld  (ed.)  Knowledge  Democracy:  Consequences  for  Science,  Politics,  and  Media,  Heidelberg,  Springer,  2010,  pp.  25-­‐26.  12  Susan  E.  Cozzens  and  Edward  J.  Woodhouse,  ‘Science,  Government,  and  the  Politics  of  Knowledge,’  in  Sheila  Jasanoff  et  al.  (eds.),  Handbook  of  Science  and  Technology  Studies,  Thousand  Oaks,  SAGE  Publications,  1995,  pp.  533-­‐534.  13  This  process  is  similar  in  operation  to  democratic  representation,  which  rather  than  being  a  mirror  for  the  pre-­‐existing  reality  of  popular  will,  is  a  negotiated  outcome  conducted  by  correspondence.    Brown,  Science  in  Democracy,  p.  5-­‐8.  14  Irwin,  Citizen  Science,  p.  49.  Brown  5-­‐7  15  Frank  Fischer,  Technocracy  and  the  Politics  of  Expertise,  Newbury  Park,  SAGE  Publications,  1990,  p.  146.     3  
  • judgement.16    This  is  even  the  case  when  the  area  under  investigation  is  one  of  vital  human  interest,  as  it  is  with  the  threat  of  global  warming.    Unwilling  to  ‘confront  the  politics  of  knowledge’,  the  ideal  of  value  neutral  scientific  expertise  stubbornly  persists  in  Western  democracies.17     This  is  perhaps  not  surprising,  given  that  the  ideal  itself  is  deeply  grounded  in  the  modernist  project.    From  the  sixteenth  to  the  nineteenth  centuries,  our  social  and  political  processes  were  moulded  by  the  institutionalization  of  what  Max  Weber  identified  as  the  application  of  reason  and  instrumental  rationality  to  everyday  society  by  way  of  the  scientific  method.    The  very  functioning  of  democratic  forms  of  governance  was  justified  upon  the  use  of  this  ‘higher’  form  of  knowledge.18    Yet  as  science  shifted  out  of  the  private  sphere  and  into  the  public  and  institutional  during  the  nineteenth-­‐century,  the  professionalization  and  standardization  of  scientific  practice  led  to  a  necessary  restriction  of  access  to  knowledge  generation.    The  ‘scientist’  progressively  moved  away  from  the  Enlightenment  ideal  of  the  ‘cultivated  scholar’,  and  towards  the  emerging  specialized  expert.19    With  forms  of  knowing  grounded  in  scientific  method  already  privileged  over  all  other  forms,  this  process  created  an  implicit  elitism  within  supposedly  democratic  systems.20    As  access  to  expertise  receded  further  with  the  emergence  of  formalized  communication  systems  and  the  use  of  esoteric  language,  claims  to  objectivity  and  neutrality  allowed  experts  a  certain  level  of  cultural  and  social  authority.21    This  process  above  all  ran                                                                                                                  16  Jean-­‐Jacques  Salomon,  ‘Science,  Technology  and  Democracy,’  Minerva,  Vol.  38,  2000,  p.  37.  17  Robert  Proctor,  Value-­‐free  Science?:  Purity  and  Power  in  Modern  Knowledge,  Cambridge,  Harvard  University  Press,  1991,  p.  267.  18  Fischer,  Technocracy  and  the  Politics  of  Expertise,  pp.  61-­‐63.  19  Proctor,  Value-­‐free  Science?,  p.  264.  20  Indeed,  the  outward  commitment  to  universal  education  did  little  to  the  growth  of  elitism,  as  increased  specialization  dimmed  the  utopian  dream  of  a  fully  informed  polity.    Macleod,  ‘Science  and  Democracy’,  pp.  372-­‐374.      21  Of  course,  boundaries  of  this  kind  are  constructed  partly  to  secure  scientific  knowledge  against  degradation  by  inferior  forms,  but  also  to  secure  authority  in  the  wider  social  realm,  legitimating  claims  to  it  within  the  system.    Julia  Evetts,  ‘Professionalization,  Scientific  Expertise,  and  Elitism:  A  Sociological  Perspective,’  in  Neil  Charness  et  al.  (eds.),  The  Cambridge  Handbook  of  Expertise  and  Expert  Performance,  Cambridge,  Cambridge  University  Press,  2006,  p.  115.     4  
  • counter  to  the  democratic  ideals  of  inclusion  and  equal  rights,  narrowing  the  scope  for  public  participation,  and  undermining  the  democratic  governance  scientific  knowledge  was  presumed  to  maintain.     Despite  this  apparent  conflict  between  scientific  expertise  and  democracy,  the  former’s  institutionalization  within  decision-­‐making  grew  exponentially  during  the  twentieth-­‐century.    Partly  this  can  be  seen  as  a  reaction  to  the  ostensible  success  of  applied  science  during  the  destruction  of  World  War  I  and  II,  which  seemed  to  show  that  democracy  without  science  is  both  ‘inefficient  and  vulnerable’  in  the  face  of  encroachment  by  aggressive  authoritarianism.22    Of  no  less  importance,  however,  was  the  desire  to  usurp  the  influence  of  patronage  politics;  through  the  use  of  disinterested  policies  based  upon  scientific  method  and  rationality  such  political  expediency  would  be  undermined.    The  emergence  of  ‘think  tanks’  and  their  ever-­‐increasing  influence  within  policy  formulation  is  indicative  of  this  trend  towards  the  ‘scientization’  of  politics.23       Nico  Stehr  argues  that  the  growth  of  expert  influence  in  political  systems,  and  the  ‘scientization’  of  politics,  can  be  seen  as  part  of  the  emergence  of  the  ‘knowledge  society’.    Manifested  in  the  penetration  of  scientific  and  technical  understanding  into  the  core  of  the  economy,  social  action,  and  politics  itself,  this  ‘post-­‐industrial  society’  ascribes  value  and  power  to  the  guardianship  of  knowledge.24    As  a  result  of  this  shift  from  material  to  information  value,  the  old  interest-­‐based  politics  is  replaced  by  governance  systems  directed  towards  the                                                                                                                  22  Macleod,  ‘Science  and  Democracy’,  pp.  375-­‐377.  23  Arguably  though,  policy  choice  is  no  clearer  than  before,  largely  due  to  the  plethora  of  (often  contradictory)  studies  advocating  every  position  on  every  conceivable  issue,  all  backed  by  scientific  expertise.    Andrew  M.  Rich,  Think  Tanks,  Public  Policy,  and  the  Politics  of  Expertise,  Cambridge,  Cambridge  University  Press,  2004,  pp.  2-­‐4.    The  public,  moreover,  has  rightly  come  to  view  think  tanks  as  bastions  of  ideology  rather  than  disinterested  fact,  a  belief  that  seriously  undermines  trust  in  their  ‘expert’  advice  amongst  lay  audiences.    Ibid,  pp.  25-­‐6.  24  Nico  Stehr,  Knowledge  Societies,  London,  SAGE  Publications,  1994,  pp.  1-­‐15.    This  is  not  to  say,  however,  that  experts  can  be  thought  of  as  a  social  class,  being  merely  members  of  loose  associations.    Indeed,  while  they  have  power  in  the  elite  institutions  that  generate  knowledge,  they  have  only  influence  outside  of  them.    Ibid,  pp.  167-­‐168.     5  
  • identification  of  social  policy  ‘problems’,  with  feasibility  studies  and  apolitical  decision-­‐making  determining  the  scope  of  policy  choice.    Little  room  is  left  for  public  opinion  and  citizen  participation,  both  of  which  are  viewed  as  inferior,  even  irrational,  forms  of  policy  input.25       There  has  certainly  been  an  identifiable  shift  towards  ‘scientific’  decision-­‐making  in  Western  democracies  over  the  course  of  the  last  century.    Responding  to  concerns  that  policymaking  is  being  negatively  affected  by  the  vagaries  of  an  irrational  political  process,  political  and  administrative  leaders  have  progressively  institutionalized  technocracies  in  supposedly  democratic  countries.26      Following  Frank  Fisher,  this  system  of  governance  can  be  defined  as  one  in  which  ‘technically  trained  experts  rule  by  virtue  of  their  specialized  knowledge  and  position  in  dominant  political  and  economic  institutions’.27    As  Jürgen  Habermas  has  argued  elsewhere,  this  reduction  of  political  power  into  rational  administration  can  occur  only  at  the  expense  of  democracy  itself.28    For  not  only  are  the  public  excluded  from  decision-­‐making,  but  the  traditional  role  of  their  political  representatives  in  democratic  systems  is  given  over  to  ‘administratively  based  cadres  of  policy  experts’,  who  determine  the  direction  of  economic  and  social  policy.29       At  the  same  time  we  have  become  reliant  on  scientific  expertise.    For  despite  growing  evidence  of  lay  disenchantment  with  the  functioning  of  expertise  in  democratic  governance,  society  must  still  defer  to  expert  authority  on  issues  ranging  from  the  mundane  to  the  infinitely  complex.30    As  Dietrich  Rueschemeyer  argues  in  relation  to  experts:                                                                                                                    25  Fischer,  Technocracy  and  the  Politics  of  Expertise,  pp.  15-­‐16.  26  Ibid,  p.  21.  27  Ibid,  p.  17.  28  Jürgen  Habermas,  Toward  a  Rational  Society:  Student  Protest,  Science,  and  Politics,  London,  Heinemann  Educational,  1971,  p.  68.  29  Fischer,  Technocracy  and  the  Politics  of  Expertise,  pp.  18-­‐19.  30  Stehr,  Knowledge  Societies,  pp.  163-­‐165.     6  
  • [T]hey  define  the  situation  for  the  untutored,  they  suggest  priorities,  they   shape  people’s  outlook  on  their  life  and  world,  and  they  establish   standards  of  judgement  in  the  different  areas  of  expertise.31    Simply  put,  experts  are  those  adjudged  the  most  competent  in  answering  questions  related  to  their  specific  area  of  expertise.    Non-­‐experts,  or  the  lay  public,  are  at  best  unqualified  and  external  reviewers  ensuring  that  only  other  experts  in  their  field  can  truly  judge  the  adequacy  of  advice,  thereby  insulating  them  from  radical  external  criticism  of  their  results.32    Knowledge  becomes  the  domain  of  the  elite,  and  one  in  which  the  general  public  is  excluded.    This  presents  a  further  problem  for  democracy,  when  defined  as  ‘government  by  discussion’,  because  the  discussion  itself  is  unintelligible  and  out  of  reach  for  the  majority.33     Here  we  can  find  Robert  Dahl’s  conception  of  the  democratic  ideal  useful  in  better  understanding  the  significance  of  this  problem.    Dahl  defines  the  ideal  democracy  as  one  that  ensures  the  equal  empowerment  of  all,  meaning  that  even  if  not  directly  participating  in  all  decisions,  no  citizen  should  be  specifically  excluded  from  doing  so.    As  the  above  discussion  indicates,  however,  modern  democracies  are  far  removed  from  this  ideal,  as  the  elite  controls  access  to  forms  of  knowledge  used  in  decision-­‐making.    Recognising  this,  Dahl  suggests  a  continuum  of  polyarchy34  based  on  levels  of  democratic  involvement  and  popular  sovereignty.    At  the  lower  end  of  this  continuum  are  those  countries  in  which  the  minimum  of  free  and  fair  elections  is  achieved,  but  where  the  elite  allows  for  little  public  involvement.    At  the  upper  end  is  a  governance  structure  within  which  each  citizen  is  equally  involved  in  the  defining  of  policy  agendas,  and  where  policy  is  created  transparently,  originates  from  numerous  sources,  and  public  deliberation  in  decision-­‐making  is  promoted.    Standing  between  the  lower  and  upper  levels  on  this  continuum  is  the  control  of  information  by  policy                                                                                                                  31  Quoted  in  ibid,  p.  166.  32  Sassower,  Knowledge  without  Expertise,  pp.  64-­‐66.  33  Stephen  P.  Turner,  Liberal  Democracy  3.0:  Civil  Society  in  an  Age  of  Experts,  London,  SAGE  Publications,  2003,  pp.  5-­‐6.  34  Meaning  a  governance  system  in  which  power  is  vested  in  many  actors.     7  
  • elites.35    Thus  Dahl  would  argue  that  expertise,  as  an  elite  bastion  of  knowledge,  lowers  the  level  of  democracy  in  those  countries  in  which  it  forms  the  basis  of  decision-­‐making.    The  Risk  Society     At  the  same  time  as  expertise  has  come  to  undermine  the  legitimate  functioning  of  democratic  governance,  a  crisis  in  confidence  has  beset  the  very  authority  of  that  expertise.    For  Ülrich  Beck,  the  sources  of  this  crisis  are  related  to  what  he  terms  the  ‘risk  society’.    Whereas  during  modernity,  the  belief  in  progress,  truth,  and  the  purity  of  the  scientific  method  dominated,  our  ‘post-­‐industrial’  society  is  beset  by  doubt  and  anxieties  related  to  environmental  threats.    As  a  result,  uncertainty  and  risk  have  become  central  to  politics,  not  necessarily  due  to  the  discovery  of  new  threats  such  as  global  warming,  but  to  the  recently  developed  understandings  of  the  inherent  limitations  of  science.    Once  thought  of  as  a  vehicle  through  which  domination  of  nature  could  be  achieved,  we  now  distrust  science’s  ability  to  solve  the  problems  that  domination  has  produced.36    On  the  other  hand,  for  Beck,  ‘[t]he  exposure  of  scientific  uncertainty  is  the  liberation  of  politics,  law  and  the  public  sphere  from  their  patronization  by  technocracy’.37    Yet  these  threats,  especially  global  warming,  still  necessitate  by  their  very  nature  a  dependence  upon  expertise  at  the  very  time  of  this  questioning.38    For  expert  bodies,  such  as  the  International  Panel  on  Climate  Change  (IPCC),  are  not  only  intimately  involved  in  the  construction  of  public  perceptions  of  risk,  but  also  in  our  response  to  them,  given  that  the  prevailing  approach  to  decision-­‐making  is  bound  up  in  modernity.39    Indeed,  as                                                                                                                  35  W.  Lance  Bennett  and  Robert  M.  Entman  (eds.),  Mediated  Politics:  Communication  in  the  Future  of  Democracy,  New  York,  Cambridge  University  Press,  2001,  pp.  468-­‐469.  36  Irwin,  Citizen  Science,  pp.  45-­‐46.  37  Quoted  in  ibid,  p.  60.  38  Ülrich  Beck,  Ecological  Politics  in  an  Age  of  Risk,  Cambridge,  Polity  Press,  1995,  p.  161.  39  Geert  Munnichs,  ‘Whom  to  Trust?:    Public  Concerns,  Late  Modern  Risks,  and  Expert  Trustworthiness,’  Journal  of  Agricultural  and  Environmental  Ethics,  Vol.  17,  No.  2,  2004,  p.  114.     8  
  • Beck  himself  points  out,  the  answer  of  industrial  society  to  the  challenge  of  risk  is  to  intensify  technocratic  solutions.40         Arguably  then,  what  is  required  is  the  democratization  of  expertise  itself.    Moves  towards  the  inclusion  of  lay  understandings  of  risk  issues,  with  a  view  to  incorporating  them  within  decision-­‐making  processes,  have  in  fact  begun.41    The  House  of  Lords  in  Britain,  for  instance,  called  for  enhanced  public  involvement  in  scientific  matters  in  2000,  and  the  European  Commission  committed  itself  in  2001  to  ‘sustained  dialogue  between  experts,  public  and  policy  makers’.    In  Scandinavia,  moreover,  the  success  of  expert-­‐citizen  dialogue  models,  pioneered  by  the  Danish  Board  of  Technology,  have  led  to  calls  for  their  adaptation  in  other  Western  democracies.    These  consensus  conferences  between  expert  and  lay  panels  provide  a  platform  for  the  questioning  of  expert  pronouncements  on  both  cognitive  and  normative  grounds.42    Experts  are  thus  forced  to  justify  their  assumptions  as  lay  audiences  search  for  value  judgements  and  the  infiltration  of  special  interests  into  knowledge  generation.    Such  conferences  are  particularly  useful  in  the  context  of  uncertainty  and  controversy,  as  prior  contestation  enhances  the  legitimacy  of  democratic  decisions.43    These  initiatives  are  therefore  gaining  credence  within  public  policy  discourse,  as  they  are  regarded  as  a  means  of  addressing  ‘a  number  of  perceived  sources  of  potential  crisis  in  contemporary  governance;  namely  deficits  of  knowledge,  trust,  and  legitimacy’.44                                                                                                                            40  Beck,  Ecological  Politics,  pp.  166-­‐167  41  Tom  Horlick-­‐Jones  et  al.,  ‘Citizen  Engagement  Processes  as  Information  Systems:  The  Role  of  Knowledge  and  the  Concept  of  Translation  Quality,  Public  Understandings  of  Science,  Vol.  16,  2007,  p.  260.  42  Anders  Blok,  ‘Experts  on  Public  Trial:  On  Democratizing  Expertise  Through  a  Danish  Consensus  Conference’,  Public  Understandings  of  Science,  Vol.  16,  2007,  pp.  163-­‐164.  43  Ibid,  p.  176.  44  Horlick-­‐Jones  et  al.,  ‘Citizen  Engagement’,  p.  259.     9  
  • Epistemic  Communities  and  Climate  Consensus     Given  these  deficits  in  trust  and  legitimacy,  how  can  the  expert  consensus  on  climate  change  and  its  authority  in  decision-­‐making,  be  explained?45    Peter  Haas  developed  the  notion  of  epistemic  communities  as  a  way  of  understanding  how  such  bodies  gain  authority  through  consensus  building  surrounding  their  specific  knowledge.    Following  Adler,  such  communities  can  be  defined  as:     a  network  of  individuals  or  groups  with  an  authoritative  claim  to  policy-­‐ relevant  knowledge  within  their  domain  of  expertise…They  adhere  to  the   following:    (1)    shared  consummatory  values    and  principled  beliefs;  (2)   shared  causal  beliefs  or  professional  judgement;  (3)  common  notions  of   validity  based  on  intersujective  internally  defined  criteria  for  validating   knowledge;  and  (4)  a  common  policy  project.46    Once  consensus  has  been  achieved,  and  epistemic  communities  formed  around  it,  its  members  implant  themselves  within  state  and  international  bureaucracies  in  order  to  affect  policy  decisions.    They  are  thus  well  positioned  to  define  the  content  of  policy  problems,  prescribe  solutions,  and  ultimately  assess  policy  outcomes.47         In  the  case  of  global  warming,  such  a  community  could  arguably  be  located  within  the  body  of  the  IPCC.48    Following  the  above  criteria,  the  IPCC,                                                                                                                  45  Those  subscribing  to  the  expert  consensus  believe  that  we  know  ‘beyond  reasonable  doubt  that  the  world  is  warming  and  that  human  emissions  of  greenhouse  gases  are  the  primary  cause’.    Climate  Commission,  The  Critical  Decade:  Climate  Science,  Risks  and  Responses,  Canberra,  Climate  Commission  Secretariat,  2011,  p.  60,  retrieved  19  June  2011,  available  from  <http://climatecommission.gov.au/topics/the-­‐critical-­‐decade/>.  46  Quoted  in  Matthew  Paterson,  Global  Warming  and  Global  Politics,  New  York,  Routledge,  1996,  p.  135.  47  See  Peter  M.  Haas,  ‘Introduction:  Epistemic  Communities  and  International  Policy  Coordination,’  International  Organization,  Vol.  46,  No.  1,  1992,  pp.  1-­‐35.  48  Many  members  of  the  IPCC  have  been  involved  in  climate  research  since  the  1970s,  and  involved  in  expert  bodies  such  as  the  World  Meteorological  Organization  (WMO)  and  the  United  Nations  Environment  Programme  (UNEP),     10  
  • through  its  four  year  reporting  structure,  periodically  publishes  shared  principled  belief  statements,  despite  regular  admissions  of  uncertainty,49  along  with  casual  judgements  related  to  the  role  of  carbon  dioxide  in  global  warming;50  it  shares  agreed  mechanisms  for  testing  in  the  form  of  climate  modelling;51  and  it  shares  a  common  policy  response  to  the  problem  –  the  drastic  reduction  of  greenhouse  gas  emissions.52    The  IPCC  and  its  predecessors,  moreover,  were  vital  to  the  emergence  of  global  warming  as  an  area  of  significant  policy  concern,  and  to  the  fostering  of  consensus  on  its  nature.53     Yet  it  is  not  clear  that  epistemic  community  frameworks  are  sufficient  to  deal  with  global  warming  for  two  reasons.    Firstly,  the  level  of  consensus  on  the  relationship  between  human  activity  and  warming  is  not  absolute,  with  multiple  communities  claiming  true  knowledge.    The  epistemic  community  approach,  however,  takes  scientific  consensus  as  the  precursor  to  policy  influence,  when  it  is  in  fact  far  more  complex  than  such  a  linear  relationship.54    Consensus,  based  here  upon  a  generally  agreed  set  of  possible  outcomes  rather  than  a  single  and  exact  prediction,  is  reached  through  the  interplay  of  assertion  and  disagreement  both  between  experts,  and  between  experts  and  policymakers.    During  this  process  the  content  of  consensus  can  be  altered  significantly  based  upon  value                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              as  well  as  the  First  Climate  Change  Conference  and  the  International  Council  of  Scientists.    Paterson,  Global  Warming,  p.  140.  49  In  the  IPCC’s  most  recent  assessment  report,  global  warming  was  described  as  ‘unequivocal’,  and  its  human  sources  as  ‘very  likely’,  despite  uncertainties  in  the  accuracy  of  data  and  the  projections  based  upon  it.    International  Panel  on  Climate  Change,  IPCC  Fourth  Assessment  Report:  Climate  Change  2007:  Synthesis  Report,  Cambridge,  Cambridge  University  Press,  2007,  p.  72,  retrieved  19  June  2011,  available  from  <  http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/syr/en/  contents.html>.    It  is  important  to  recognize,  however,  that  the  uncertainty  described,  and  indicated  by  the  phrase  ‘very  likely’,  refers  to  a  90  percent  probability.    Ibid,  p.  27.  50  Ibid,  p.  72.  51  See,  for  example,  ibid,  p.  51-­‐59.  52  Ibid,  p.  60.  53  Paterson,  Global  Warming,  pp.  140-­‐144.    See  ibid,  pp.  144-­‐147,  for  the  evolution  of  the  global  warming  agenda  from  the  1970s  to  the  mid-­‐1990s.  54  Paul  N.  Edwards  and  Clark  A.  Miller,  ‘Introduction:  The  Globalization  of  Climate  Science  and  Climate  Politics,’  in  Paul  N.  Edwards  and  Clark  A.  Miller  (eds.),  Changing  the  Atmosphere:  Expert  Knowledge  and  Environmental  Governance,  Cambridge,  MIT  Press,  2001,  p.  4.     11  
  • judgements  by  actors  external  to  the  epistemic  community,  and  related  to  risk  and  available  resources.55    Secondly,  as  Karen  Liftin  has  argued,  the  approach  tends  to  disregard  the  links  between  science  and  politics,  downplaying  ‘the  ways  in  which  scientific  information  simply  rationalizes  or  reinforces  existing  political  conflicts.56    Indeed,  issues  such  as  global  warming  are  controversial  inasmuch  as  they  involve  ‘ongoing  conflicts  over  basic  values  and  interest.’57    Thus,  different  actors,  each  seeking  particular  policy  goals,  have  manipulated  scientific  expertise  with  their  own  values  and  interests  in  mind  through  the  primary  communication  channel  for  the  lay  public  in  regards  to  global  warming  –  the  media.58     In  the  case  of  global  warming  these  ongoing  political  conflicts  involve  significant  implications  of  a  foundational  nature.    On  the  one  hand,  the  possibility  of  ecological  catastrophe  resulting  from  current  modes  of  human  activity  implies  a  crisis  of  industrial  society  itself,  and  thus  demands  self-­‐reflection  on  its  very  foundations.59    Conflict  here  is  not  being  fought  over  the  spoils  of  profit  and  prosperity,  but  the  allocation  of  negatives,  threats  and  possible  devastation.60  On  the  other  hand,  the  global  warming  debate  has  become  a  space  for  the  possible  reconfiguration  of  the  global  order,  with  institutions  created  on  a  worldwide  scale  to  tackle  it  becoming  sites  of  contestation  over  norms  and  practice.61    Despite  the  importance  of  these  conflicts,  the  debate  is  framed  within  the  Western  media  in  terms  of  science,  rather  than  as  an  investigation  into  the  social  and  cultural  dimensions  of  the  risk  itself.62                                                                                                                    55  Paul  N.  Edwards  and  Stephen  H.  Schneider,  ‘Self-­‐Governance  and  Peer  Review  in  Science-­‐for-­‐policy:  The  Case  of  the  IPCC  Second  Assessment  Report,’  in  Paul  N.  Edwards  and  Clark  A.  Miller  (eds.),  Changing  the  Atmosphere:  Expert  Knowledge  and  Environmental  Governance,  Cambridge,  MIT  Press,  2001,  pp.  244-­‐245  56  Quoted  in  Paterson,  Global  Warming,  p.  150.  57  Brown,  Science  in  Democracy,  pp.  2-­‐3.  58  Alison  Anderson,  Media,  Culture  and  the  Environment,  London,  UCL  Press,  1997,  pp.  107-­‐115.  59  Ülrich  Beck  et  al.,  Reflexive  Modernization:  Politics,  Tradition  and  Aesthetics  in  the  Modern  Social  Order,  Cambridge,  Polity  Press,  1994,  p.  8.  60  Ülrich  Beck,  Ecological  Enlightenment:  Essays  on  the  Politics  of  the  Risk  Society,  Atlantic  Highlands,  Humanities  Press,  1995,  p.  3.  61  Edwards  and  Miller,  ‘Introduction’,  pp.  2-­‐4.  62  Irwin,  Citizen  Science,  p.  37.     12  
  • Indeed,  contestation  in  this  debate  has  generally  taken  place  on  the  nature  of  the  consensus  itself.    For  instance,  the  IPCC’s  Second  Assessment  Report  of  1996,  in  its  eight  chapter,  concluded  that  ‘the  balance  of  evidence  suggests  that  there  is  a  discernible  human  influence  on  global  climate’.    Immediately,  however,  these  claims  were  contested,  especially  on  the  basis  that  human  activity  was  the  root  cause.    Led  by  the  eminent  physicist  Frederick  Seitz,  those  dissenting  claimed  that  the  peer  review  process  had  been  compromised  for  political  reasons,  claims  that  ignited  a  debate  widely  reported  in  the  media.63    Unproven  claims  such  as  Seitz’s  gain  credence  in  the  public  sphere,  and  undermine  trust  in  bodies  such  as  the  IPCC,  regardless  of  the  fact  that  IPCC  publications  are  peer-­‐reviewed  by  hundreds  of  experts  prior  to  release,  a  process  explained  by  the  overrepresentation  of  marginal  views  in  the  media,64  and  by  the  nature  of  climate  science  itself.65    Unfortunately,  due  to  their  technical                                                                                                                  63  Seitz’s  complaints  were  based  on  the  conclusions  contained  in  chapter  eight,  which  he  claimed  had  been  altered  following  the  November  1995  plenary  meeting  of  IPCC  Working  Group  I.    At  this  meeting,  Seitz  claimed,  the  text  of  that  chapter  had  been  agreed  too,  and  the  subsequent  deletion  of  passages  that  indicated  uncertainty  amounted  to  the  corruption  of  peer  review  for  political  ends.    Not  surprisingly  the  IPCC  Secretariat,  who  pointed  to  peer  review  process  undertaken  following  alterations  to  the  text,  dismissed  these  claims.    Edwards  and  Schneider,  ‘Self-­‐Governance  and  Peer  Review’,  p.  219.  64  In  Australia,  for  example,  research  has  shown  that  the  media  is  the  main  source  of  information  on  climate  change,  and  the  main  factor  shaping  people’s  awareness  of  it,  especially  as  regards  uncertainty.    Desley  L.  Speck,  ‘A  Hot  Topic?  Climate  Change  Mitigation  Policies,  Politics,  and  the  Media  in  Australia,’  Human  Ecology  Review,  Vol.  17,  No.  2,  2010,  p.  125.    For  examples  of  the  publication  of  marginal  views  in  the  media  in  Australia,  see  Jo  Chandler,  ‘When  Science  is  Undone  by  Fiction’,  The  Age,  June  29  2011,  retrieved  29  June  2011,  available  from  <http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/politics/when-­‐science-­‐is-­‐undone-­‐by-­‐fiction-­‐20110628-­‐1gp26.html>;  and  John  Cook,  ‘Half  the  Truth  on  Emissions’,  The  Age,  June  28  2011,  retrieved  29  June  2011,  available  from  <http://www.theage.  com.au/opinion/society-­‐and-­‐culture/half-­‐the-­‐truth-­‐on-­‐emissions-­‐20110627-­‐1gne1.html>.  65  Climate  science  is  based  upon  modelling  using  ‘semi-­‐empirical  and  heuristic  principles  derived  from  observation’.    These  observations  suffer  from  problems  of  scale  and  availability,  leading  to  inaccurate,  incomplete,  inconsistent  and  temporally  brief  regional  data  sets,  which  are  then  globalized  through  interpolating  and  correcting.    Paul  N.  Edwards,  ‘Representing  the  Global  Atmosphere:  Computer  Models,  Data,  and  Knowledge  about  Climate  Change’,  in  P.  N.  Edwards  and  C.  A.  Miller  (eds.),  Changing  the  Atmosphere:  Expert  Knowledge  and  Environmental  Governance,  Cambridge,  MIT  Press,  2001,  pp.  62-­‐63.    For  a     13  
  • nature,  the  facts  and  data  on  global  warming  do  not  speak  for  themselves,  and  have  to  be  interpreted  and  acted  upon  based  on  expert  advice.66    As  Professor  Ross  Garnaut  has  claimed,  ‘the  outsider  to  climate  science  has  no  rational  choice  but  to  accept  that,  on  a  balance  of  probabilities,  the  mainstream  science  is  right  in  pointing  to  high  risks  from  unmitigated  climate  change’.67    Regardless  of  this  dependence,  sceptics  can  ‘cherry-­‐pick’  details  and  claim  them  as  contrary  to  the  overall  consensus,  thereby  undermining  confidence.68      ‘Climategate’     The  effects  of  contestation  over  the  global  warming  ‘consensus’  are  best  illustrated  by  the  so-­‐called  ‘climategate’  scandal.    On  20  November  2009  hacked  emails,  sent  over  a  15-­‐year  period,  and  originating  from  the  Climate  Research  Unit  (CRU)69  of  the  University  of  East  Anglia,  were  released  publically  on  the  website  realclimate.org.    The  emails,  it  was  claimed,  showed  evidence  of  data  suppression  and  manipulation,  as  well  as  intimidation  of  scientific  journal  editors  in  order  to  prevent  the  publication  of  contrary  opinions,  all  as  part  of  an  effort  to  manufacture  consensus  on  climate  change.70    The  supposed  uncovering  of  such  activity  amounted  to  what  one  climate  change  sceptic,  Christopher  Brooks  of  The  Telegraph,  called  the  ‘worst  scientific  scandal  of  our  generation’.71                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                good  typology  of  climate  modeling  and  data  collection  see  ibid,  pp.  35-­‐49;  for  a  detailed  overview  of  specific  modeling  methods  see  ibid,  pp.  55-­‐62.  66  Ibid,  pp.  32-­‐33.  67  Ross  Garnaut,  The  Garnaut  Climate  Change  Review:  Final  Report,  Port  Melbourne,  Cambridge  University  Press,  2008,  p.  xcii.  68  Irwin,  Citizen  Science,  pp.  67-­‐68.    See  for  example,  Cook,  ‘Half  the  Truth  on  Emissions’.  69  The  CRU  is  one  of  the  most  influential  scientific  institutions  in  the  field  of  climate  change,  heavily  involved  in  the  collection  of  datasets  and  climate  modelling  used  in  the  IPCC’s  assessment  reports.    Brigitte  Nerlich,  ‘"Climategate":  Paradoxical  Metaphors  and  Political  Paralysis,’  Environmental  Values,  Vol.  19,  2010,  pp.  421-­‐422.  70  For  an  example  of  such  claims  see  George  H.  Avery,  ‘Scientific  Misconduct:  The  Perversion  of  Scientific  Evidence  for  Public  Advocacy’,  World  Medical  &  Health  Policy,  Vol.  2,  No.  4,  2010,  p.  20.  71  Christopher  Booker,  ‘Climate  Change:  This  is  the  Worst  Scientific  Scandal  of  our  Generation’,  The  Telegraph,  28  November  2009,  retrieved  19  June  2011  available  from  <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/     14  
  • Conservative  bloggers,  moreover,  framed  the  ‘scandal’  as  evidence  of  a  climate  change  ‘scam’,  and  the  scientific  advice  behind  the  consensus  as  untrustworthy.72         Three  independent  panels  would  later  conclude  that  there  was  in  fact  no  evidence  of  misconduct  on  the  part  of  the  scientists.    Yet  media  publicity  surrounding  the  issue  ensured  the  damage  had  been  done.73    Analysis  of  the  emails  themselves  was  never  more  than  perfunctory,  allowing  the  ‘cherry-­‐picking’  of  seemingly  incriminating  details  to  supress  the  full  story.    By  the  time  of  the  release  of  the  panels’  findings,  the  reputations  of  the  experts  involved  had  already  been  tarnished  and  have  since  struggled  to  recover.74    Brigitte  Nerlich,  who  has  studied  the  reaction  to  the  release  of  the  emails  found  that  even  its  framing  as  ‘climategate’,  with  negative  connotations  of  the  Watergate  scandal  and  political  cover  up,  resonated  ‘with  popular  imagination  and  cultural  knowledge’.    This  process  opened  ‘up  a  whole  narrative  space  or  frame’  which  allowed  ‘people  to  easily  structure  their  arguments  about  a  controversial  topic’.75    Indeed,  regardless  of  the  veracity  of  the  claims,  the  scandal  certainly  served  to  undermine  the  public’s  trust  in  climate  science.    For  example,  in  the  aftermath  of  the  release  of  the  emails,  and  the  failure  of  the  Copenhagen  negotiations  on  global  responses  to  climate  change,  a  British  study  revealed  that  ‘the  proportion  of  adults  who  believe  climate  change  is  “definitely”  a  reality  dropped  by  30%  over  the  last  year,  from  44%  to  31%.’76    The  public  outrage  that                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              christopherbooker/6679082/Climate-­‐change-­‐this-­‐is-­‐the-­‐worst-­‐scientific-­‐scandal-­‐of-­‐our-­‐generation.html>.  72  Brigitte  Nerlich,  ‘"Climategate”’,  pp.  421-­‐422.  73  Richard  Fielding,  ‘The  Perversion  of  Scientific  Evidence  for  Policy  Advocacy:  A  Perspective  on  Avery  2010’,  World  Medical  &  Health  Policy,  Vol.  3,  No.  1,  2011,  p.  2.    For  an  example  of  one  of  the  panels  findings  see    74  Fred  Pearce,  ‘How  the  “Climategate”  Scandal  is  Bogus  and  Based  on  Climate  Sceptics’  Lies’,  The  Guardian,  2  February  2010,  p.  7,  retrieved  19  June  2011,  available  from  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/01/  climate-­‐emails-­‐sceptics>.    As  it  cannot  be  undertaken  here,  for  an  in  depth  analysis  of  the  content  of  the  emails,  and  the  phrases  that  led  people  to  believe  that  a  ‘scam’  had  been  uncovered,  see  Celia  Deane-­‐Drummond,  ‘A  Case  for  Collective  Conscience:  Climate  Gate,  COP-­‐15  and  Climate  Justice’,  Studies  in  Christian  Ethics,  Vol.  24,  No.  1,  2011,  p.  8-­‐10.  75  Nerlich,  ‘”Climategate”’,  p.  423.  76  Juliette  Jowit,  ‘Sharp  Decline  in  the  Public’s  Belief  in  Climate  Threat,  British  Poll  Reveals’,  The  Guardian,  24  February  2010,  p.  9,  retrieved  19  June  2011,     15  
  • followed,  however  misplaced,  weakened  pressure  for  political  action  on  a  global  scale,  a  fact  highlighted  by  the  failure  of  Copenhagen,  and  fed  into  debates  over  the  legitimacy  of  scientific  expertise  in  democracies.77         Yet  ‘Climategate’  did  bring  about  several  important  changes  in  the  conduct  of  climate  expertise.    Many  bodies  involved  in  data  collection  moved  towards  the  opening  up  of  datasets  to  public  scrutiny.    It  also  forced  experts  to  acknowledge  that  climate  change  policy  is  not  created  in  a  linear  relationship  between  science  and  decision-­‐making,  but  rather  includes  a  complex  set  of  value  and  interest  inputs  which  must  be  negotiated.78    Nonetheless,  critics  continue  to  claim  that  the  dependence  on  funding  streams,  linked  to  the  political  existence  of  the  threat,  creates  inherent  incentives  for  research  outcomes  to  support  the  significance  of  the  threat  of  global  warming.79    It  is  argued  that  the  consensus  is  garnered  through  the  framing  of  realities  consistent  with  the  scientists’  ethics  in  order  to  convince  the  public  of  their  preferred  policy  actions.    Expertise  here  moves  from  mere  observation  to  outright  advocacy.80         The  case  of  ‘Climategate’  highlights  that  the  global  warming  ‘consensus’  is  in  fact  contested  in  nature.    This  contestation  plays  upon  the  uncertain  nature  of  knowledge  on  this  issue  in  particular,  and  in  scientific  expertise  more  generally.    As  expert  authority  is  based  on  epistemological  certainty,  gathered  through  neutral  observation,  it  is  necessarily  diminished  as  a  result.81    The  established  position  of  the  IPCC  as  an  authority  on  climate  science  suffers  also  as  it  finds  itself  immersed  in  the  crisis  of  trust  and  expert  legitimacy  in  the  public  eye.    As  Garnaut  has  pointed  out,  it  is  ‘public  attitudes  in  Australia  and  in  other  countries                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              available  from  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/23/british-­‐public-­‐belief-­‐climate-­‐poll>.  77  Deane-­‐Drummond,  Studies  in  Christian  Ethics,  pp.  8-­‐9.  78  Mark  Hulme,  ‘The  Year  Climate  Science  was  Redefined’,  The  Guardian,  16  November  2010,  retrieved  19  June  2011,  available  <http://www.guardian.co.uk/  environment/2010/nov/15/year-­‐climate-­‐science-­‐was-­‐redefined?INTCMP=  SRCH>.  79  Avery,  ‘Scientific  Misconduct’,  p.  26.  80  Ibid,  pp.  19-­‐20.  81  Indeed,  Karl  Popper  convincingly  argued  the  view  that  without  certainty  expertise  holds  no  authority.    See  Sassower,  Knowledge  without  Expertise,  pp.  67.     16  
  • [that]  create  the  possibility  of  major  reform…despite  the  inherent  difficulty  of  the  policy  problem’.82      Contestation  and  Democracy     In  order  both  to  democratize  expertise,  and  to  rescue  its  authority  in  decision-­‐making,  real  contestation  over  expert  advice  needs  to  take  place.    It  must  be  recognised  that  expert  knowledge  is  often  incomplete  or  uncertain,  especially  in  cases  such  as  global  warming,  whose  indeterminate  nature  ensures  that  no  single  and  unambiguous  answer  can  be  found.    This  fact  allows  interest  groups  to  exploit  lay  understandings  of  issues  through  the  use  of  counter-­‐expertise,  rather  than  the  proper  evaluation  of  the  case  at  hand.83    Science  alone  cannot  provide  these  judgements,  as  its  normative  dimensions  relating  to  distribution  and  justice  is  a  concern  for  the  public  at  large,  and  necessitates  lay  involvement.84         Yet  it  is  debatable  whether  scientists  can  or  even  should  remove  themselves  from  normative  questions.    Arguments  for  them  to  do  so  are  rooted  in  the  belief  of  science  as  objective  representation,  a  hangover  from  modernity.    In  fact,  normative  statements  are  bound  up  in  expert  statements  and  advice,  and  hence  the  interpretation  of  results,  by  the  very  process  of  research  selection  and  design.85    What  is  required  then  is  contestation,  in  an  open  and  transparent  manner,  alongside  democratic  participation  by  lay  publics  so  that  trust  may  be  engendered.86    For  different  types  of  information,  lay  and  expert,  social  and  scientific,  serve  to  co-­‐construct  our  understanding  of  issues  such  as  global  warming.87    Each  must  be  examined  so  that  legitimacy  may  be  lent  to  the  decision-­‐making  process.                                                                                                                  82  Garnaut,  ‘The  Garnaut  Climate  Change  Review’,  p.  xix.  83  Brown,  Science  in  Democracy,  pp.  11-­‐12.  84  Turner,  Liberal  Democracy  3.0,  p.  4.  85  Munnichs,  ‘Whom  to  Trust?’,  pp.  118-­‐119.  86  Ibid,  pp.  121-­‐124.  87  Jacquelin  Burgess  et  al.,  ‘Global  Warming  in  the  Public  Sphere’,  p.  2767.     17  
  •   Contestation  here  is  not  taken  to  mean  the  overrepresentation  of  countervailing  opinions  in  the  news  media.    Superficial  questioning  of  this  kind  does  not  result  in  a  more  informed  and  critically  aware  polity,  nor  does  it  add  to  the  content  of  expertise.    This  is  especially  the  case  when  governments  and  interest  groups  use  expertise  in  ways  that  serve  to  constrain  debate  on  the  strengths  and  weaknesses  of  scientific  knowledge.88    Nevertheless,  lay  participation,  though  seen  by  many  to  allow  irrational  responses  to  risk  issues,  can  lead  to  the  inclusion  of  wider  perspectives  perhaps  not  considered  by  technical  experts.89    Indeed,  scientific  knowledge,  while  valuable,  is  incomplete  especially  as  regards  issues  with  significant  normative  implications.    It  can  help  explain  if  and  why  a  relationship  exists,  but  is  not  in  a  position  to  answer  what  ‘ought’  to  be  done  about  it  in  the  moral  and  ethical  sense,  which  is  the  domain  of  democratic  decision-­‐making.90    As  important  is  the  legitimacy  contestation  and  public  participation  lend  to  expert  advice  in  those  processes,  through  the  democratization  of  expertise  itself.    Public  participation,  which  is  not  aided  by  the  current  form  of  contestation  on  this  issue,  must  be  encouraged  if  democracy  and  expertise  are  to  be  amendable.    Conclusions     Science  and  its  institutions  are  in  a  sense  the  antithesis  of  democratic  systems  –  they  are  a  professionalized  elite  of  expertise,  closed  to  the  majority.91    Yet  expertise  in  democracies  only  encounters  problems  in  certain  situations.    Conflict  arises  in  cases  where  its  audience  is  public,  while  its  funding  private,  or  when  those  in  public  administration  accept  their  knowledge  as  authoritative.    Hence,  the  political  issue  for  democracies  is  not  the  existence  of  expertise,  but                                                                                                                  88  Myanna  Lahsen,  ‘Technocracy,  Democracy,  and  U.S.  Climate  Politics:  The  Need  for  Demarcations,’  Science,  Technology,  &  Human  Values,  Vol.  30,  No.  1,  2005,  pp.  138-­‐139.  89  Horlick-­‐Jones  et  al.,  ‘Citizen  Engagement’,  p.  260.  90  Avery,  ‘Scientific  Misconduct’,  p.  19.  91  Salomon,  ‘Science,  Technology  and  Democracy’,  p.  33.     18  
  • the  discretionary  use  of  it  in  the  public  sphere.92    When  opened  up  to  public  scrutiny  of  its  use  the  conflict  between  expertise  and  democracy  is  less  pronounced.    Indeed,  the  spirit  of  free  inquiry  upon  which  modern  science  is  based  is  itself  a  foundational  democratic  principal.     In  the  case  of  the  global  warming  debate,  two  effects  of  the  closed  nature  of  expertise  are  evident.    Firstly,  sceptics  find  debate  over  method  and  uncertainty  convenient  to  their  cause,  despite  their  marginal  nature.    Secondly,  the  media,  having  shifted  pseudo-­‐contestation  to  the  public  sphere,  helps  them  in  their  cause.93    As  a  consequence,  there  have  been  policy  failures  ranging  from  the  global,  such  as  the  Copenhagen  negotiations,  to  the  local,  such  as  the  Emissions  Trading  Scheme  (ETS)  in  Australia.94    The  reality  is  that  in  the  face  of  environmental  risks  such  as  global  warming,  we  are  dependent  upon  technical  expertise.    It  cannot  then  be  simply  eradicated  from  democracy.    In  order  to  democratize  expertise  and  conduct  real  evaluations  of  it,  contestation  in  decision-­‐making,  based  upon  lay  participation  and  inquiry,  needs  to  be  instituted  within  democratic  forms  of  governance.                                                                                                                          92  Stephen  P.  Turner,  ‘What  is  the  Problem  with  Experts?,’  Social  Studies  of  Science,  Vol.  31,  No.  1,  2001,  pp.  140-­‐141.  93  Burgess  et  al.,  ‘Global  Warming  in  the  Public  Sphere’,  p.  2751.  94  Climate  change  policy  in  Australia  would  be  significantly  affected  particularly  following  the  failure  of  the  Copenhagen  negotiations.    After  two  defeats  in  the  Australian  Senate  for  the  ETS  the  government  of  the  Australian  Labour  Party  announced  that  it  would  not  seen  an  economy-­‐wide  market-­‐based  mitigation  program  until  after  2013.    Garnaut,  What  if  Mainstream  Science  if  Right?,  p.  7.     19  
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