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Science Debate in Germany

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Presented at PCST Conference 2014, Brazil

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Science Debate in Germany

  1. 1. PCST 2014 Salvador Brazil Science Communication for Social Inclusion & Political Engagement 20344 - HOW SCIENCE DEBATES BUILD NEW DIALOGUES BETWEEN RESEARCH & SOCIETY Wednesday, May 7 | 10.45 - 12 Room: Graciliano Ramos - S2 Proponent: WOLFGANG C. GOEDE EUROPEAN SCIENCE JOURNALISTS EUSJA /GERMAN SCIENCE WRITERS TELI Presenter: Prof. Alexander Gerber Rhine Waal University and TELI, Germany
  2. 2. Science Debate: the essentials A European format with global relevance In modern democracies, the results of science and technology are increasingly questioned by the population. Alerted by global warming and its side effects, many people like to know about both risks and benefits of new technologies, treatments etc. How safe is the latest generation of nuclear power plants? Are dams, wind generators and solar energy desirable alternatives? What are the opportunities and threats of GMOs and the application of genetic technologies in the face of a growing world population? How thoroughly have new vaccines been tested – and is it true that vaccinations could adversely affect children’s health? During the past decades doubts about the blessings of scientific and technological progress have significantly mounted. This has been counteracted also in Europe, by funding programmes such as Public Understanding of Science (PUS) or Science in Society, with often different effect from those intended. Now the European Commission is undertaking another attempt. From 2014, it will launch a 70 billion Euro programme to stimulate research throughout the continent, also in sensitive fields, to enable Europe to compete with North America and Asia.
  3. 3. In “Horizon 2020” a vast communication program is embedded in order to achieve the involvement of citizens from the very beginning (expressing their needs) as well as to disseminate project results and, ultimately, ensure public acceptance, especially young people. The European Union of Science Journalists’ Associations EUSJA has offered its expertise to EU officials in the implementation process. The relentless drive for participatory forms of science communication has been dubbed ‘the new tyranny’: Are these downstream campaigns really connected to public concerns? Does engagement (so far) take place early enough, for still being able to influence the trajectories of scientific and technological development? Otherwise means would just become ends. Perhaps the biggest flaw of “GM Nation?” was its timing – it took place too late to influence the direction of GM research, or to alter the institutional commitments of the biotechnology industry and other key players. (the last paragraph partly quoting from Wilsdon/Willis 2004 on ‘Upstream Engagement’) Science Debate: the essentials A European format with global relevance
  4. 4. As governments everywhere are learning through bitter experience, environmental problems will not be solved by technological innovation alone. Charles Leadbeater: New, more sustainable forms of car transport will require scientific and technological innovation, such as new fuel sources for cars. But the true potential will not be realised without social innovation to create new patterns of car use, and even ways for consumers to share and own cars through leasing schemes. It will require regulatory innovations such as road pricing, which may well only be possible if we have political innovations to give cities more powers to control their own transport taxation. We need to imagine not just new technologies, but whole new social systems for transport. Similar stories could be told about waste, water policy or agriculture. In each of these areas, technology is part of the solution, but it is no panacea. Science Debate: the essentials A European format with global relevance
  5. 5. So where do citizens come into play? How can we really see them as subjects and not as objects of Public Engagement? How can we make sure that it not only informs decisions but shapes them? The worst-case scenario for Public Engagement would be one in which it is merely incorporated into the bureaucratic processes of decision-making without changing the way that decisions are made. A major element, among a whole scope of measures such as Science Cafés and Study Trips, are Science Debates. They will be held about controversial scientific and technological topics and involve scientific experts, political representatives, NGOs and the civil society organisations. Moderated by science journalists, these four stakeholders find compromises, solutions or at least bridge controversies. Science Debate: the essentials A European format with global relevance
  6. 6. Science Debate: Empowerment Philosophy Lay people‘s knowledge mounts new societal discourse In reference to and reverence for the Brazilian social innovators Paulo Freire (Anti-Oppressive Education) and Augusto Boal (Theatre of the Oppressed)
  7. 7. Science Debate | Genesis Prototype – 1st Run – Perspective Demography: Flexible Retirement Age – with Poverty Crash? -> July 2013, Munich Environment: Noise Makes Sick? -> Feb. 2014, Wiesbaden Energy: Good-bye Fossils – Surviving with Renewables -> 2014
  8. 8. Science Debate | Scenarios How to apply it to our host country Brazil • Endangered Species in Amazonia [www.brazil.org.za/environmental-issues.html#.U1-7Bfl_sXs] • Cable Cars vs. Poverty and Favelas? [www.brazil.org.za/social-issues.html#.U1-6zfl_sXs] • Other themes at free choice of the audience
  9. 9. Science Debate | Realisation Issues – Stakeholders – Arguments Deforestation threatens biodiversity (1) Gov‘t Environment Minister, Brazil: 769 endangered species identified+++home to the 8th largest number in the world+++caused by rapid industrialization+++more regulations and policy is needed [ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_issues_in_Brazil ] Scientist, Rain Forest Action: 50 mio different species in rain forests+++137 are extincted every day+++caused by logging and cattle ranching+++animals such as birds living outside tropics suffer as well because they lose their winter quarter+++pollution from mining kills fish population around the Amazon river+++indigenous people lose food resources and become sick [http://ran.org/fact-sheet-tropical-rainforest-animals] Blogger, Scientific American: deforestation in the Amazon has put 100 bird species at greater risk of extinction [ http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/extinction-countdown/2012/06/08/100-amazon-bird-species-extinction-deforestation ]
  10. 10. Science Debate | Realisation Issues – Stakeholders – Arguments Deforestation threatens biodiversity (2) World Wildlife Fund WWF: Deforestation and industrialization in Amazonia not only depletes species but enforces climate change+++in 50 yrs 17 % of Amazon forest was lost. 15 % of greenhouse gases due to deforestation [https://worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation] Global Forest Trade Network, Civil Society Organization: encourages demand for “good wood” from well-managed forests+++habitat has been preserved for endangered species such as the pygmy elephant, orangutan, great apes [ http://worldwildlife.org/initiatives/global-forest-trade-network] Science Journalist/Journalism: trend towards less deforestation might not last+++under pressure from the financial crisis, the Brazilian government has proposed a rapid development programme in the Amazon+++construction of more than 20 hydroelectric power plants in the Amazon basin -> [Guardian 07/12/12] [http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/jul/12/amazon-deforestation-species-extinction-debt]
  11. 11. Science Debate | Realisation Issues – Stakeholders – Arguments Deforestation threatens biodiversity (3) Agribusiness, landholder Katia Abreu, senator & president of Growers’ Assoc.: Big Agro has transformed Brazil into a breadbasket to the world+++it feeds billions+++agribusiness accounts for 40 % of the exports and 37 % of jobs in Brazil++satellite monitoring of the Amazon has shown a steady decline in deforestation since 2004+++on visits to Washington, China and Europe, she lobbies for acceptance of Brazil’s genetically modified crops and appeals to investors+++ alliance of landowners and their supporters comprises nearly half of the 513 lawmakers in the lower house+++ “We’re modern producers,” said Abreu, explaining that countless farms like hers motor Brazil’s economy+++as for her critics, Abreu dismisses them as “ideologically committed” foes -> [Washington Post, reprinted in Brazil Chamber of Commerce 17/12/12] [www.spchamber.com.br/?p=noticia&id=835&lang=en]
  12. 12. Science Debate | Rio Cable Car (1) Positions – find other stakeholders, arguments? Generally: Cable cars have been hailed not only as a new means of public transportation in difficult territory but also to tackle poverty. The cabins connect poor folks with the labor market. Recently Rio de Janeiro inaugurated a cable car. History: “Medellin [Colombia] pioneered the use of cable cars (…) moving 3,000 passengers per hour (..) ,” says Holger Dalkmann, Director at EMBARQ, the Sustainable Transport and Urban Development Program of the World Resources Institute (WRI). “The system has been a real breakthrough. The city transformed violence and despair into hope and opportunity, using sustainable transport as one of the key levers to drive this change.” [http://cities-today.com/2013/03/the-search-for-alternative-transport-solutions] Facts: Rio City Hall has invested R$40 million (US$20.4 million) in the project as part of the programme called Morar Carioca (…) Morar Carioca has invested R$2.1 billion to benefit almost 60 communities and 75,000 families. Through the programme, Rio City Hall is providing the favelas with water and sewage networks, education, leisure and health infrastructure and street widening. [http://cities-today.com/2013/03/the-search-for-alternative-transport-solutions]
  13. 13. Science Debate | Rio Cable Car (2) Positions – find other stakeholders, arguments? Pro/City Officials: Until now, residents were forced to walk up and down the hill on foot or use vans and mototaxis,” says Pierra Batista, Rio City Hall’s Housing Secretary. “In this sense, the cable car system will reduce the need for those vehicles circling the Morro da Providência. However the main objective is not to reduce congestion, but to facilitate the movement of residents. Now they take about 10 to 15 minutes to get to a bus terminal, train or metro. Using the cable car it will take them about 2 minutes. [http://cities-today.com/2013/03/the-search-for-alternative-transport-solutions] Contra/residents: Dolores (…) recalls, however, that by choosing the transport, the government removed many homes and stopped investing in other priorities. For her, one of the major shortcomings of the upper part of the favela is the lack of space for recreation, especially for children. According to the resident, the lack of doctors in health centers is also a big issue. Another disadvantage is that tourists come to see the cable car and the view, and not the community itself. [http://rioonwatch.org/?p=12935]
  14. 14. Science Debate | Rio Cable Car (3) Positions – find other stakeholders, arguments? Contra/engineer: The number of residents who use this transportation, then, represents only 17% of the local population (…) Another disadvantage is the fact that the cable car does not ease the lives of residents by being incapable of supporting heavy cargo, or large volumes of construction materials, debris, or garbage. Finally, he brings up the issue of tourism, which represents a loss of privacy for inhabitants. “With the gondolas over their homes, residents have become the target of the curiosity of strangers,” he says.-> Raul Lisboa, Technical Analyst [http://rioonwatch.org/?p=12935] Criticism/Journalism: (…) sanitation and safety might not be the problems that Rio officials want to solve. With the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics coming to town, making the favelas look like a theme park could convey just the right impression. [http:// www.wired.com/2011/02/st_riogondola]
  15. 15. Science Debate | Outlook Full Paper, Collaboration and: Muito Obrigado! • Thank you very much on behalf of the German Science Writers TELI & European Science Writers EUSJA & Rhine Waal University • We‘d be happy to collaborate and coach you if you wish to experiment with this new participation format • Together let‘s make it fly! • Science Debate web site -> www.wissenschaftsdebatte.de • Full PCST Sci_Deb_Paper with complete sources & references –>http://www.wissenschaftsdebatte.de/?p=4847

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