"System change is now inevitable. Either because we do something about it, or because we will be hit by climate change. '...

"We need to develop economic models that are fit for purpose. The current economic frameworks, the ones that dominate our governments, these frameworks... the current economic frameworks, the neoclassical, the market frameworks, can deal with small changes. It can tell you the difference, if a sock company puts up the price of socks, what the demand for socks will be. It cannot tell you about the sorts of system level changes we are talking about here. We would not use an understanding of laminar flow in fluid dynamics to understand turbulent flow. So why is it we are using marginal economics, small incremental change economics, to understand system level changes?"

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Whom Should We Trust - The Flip Side

"Why can't scientists make themselves heard?"

The question of which expert communities the public and the policy sector ought to trust seems to me to be the central issue of our time. Bob Park flips the question around in the most recent issue of his excellent newsletter where he has interesting things to say about energy legislation pending in the US Congress.

The flip side, and really the central issue of this blog, is how legitimate science, not the institution but the body of legitimate knowledge that the institution produces, can establish trust in the political community, in competition with the cherry-picking that private interests are so good at spinning into a skewed story.

The bit that seems most interesting to me follows. These four short sentences, which I understand to be true from conversations with Department of Energy experts on the matter, are especially telling about our quandary.
Finally, both bills call for more ethanol from corn. That's just crazy! For all its good intentions, ethanol from corn doesn't balance. Why can't scientists make themselves heard on a simple question of energy?


Mark Powell said...

If you really want to know, just go read Carl Safina's post about a trip to Alaska to look at climate change impacts.

Mark Powell said...

Don’t know if you’ll be interested, but I thought to send it along…

Here’s an answer to your dilema, and BTW, it's an example of framing science done well. I blogged about it and challenged those who hate framing to look at the example.