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Among the political scientists, O'Riordan (1995:5) has argued that environmental science needs to see itself as part of the structures of pressure, power, lobbying, prejudice and dispute resolution, what has been termed "civic science". The history of the Framework Convention on Global Climate Change, however, showed environmental scientists firmly grasping this concept to become manipulators as well as tools of state and international institutions. One strategy was to separate "science" from "policy" in time-honoured fashion, a division that remains essentially contested (Buzan, 1984:7, citing W.B. Gallie) on both general grounds and with regard to the climate convention's decision-making process. Nevertheless, this proved sound strategically, particularly because of the implications of the policy recommendations for the economy and industry.

The process showed that only a paradigm which acknowledges the predominant role of nation-states, the agenda-setting capabilities of national and international actors such as industry and the public, and the self-interested contribution of other players can fully explain developments. The scientists, led by 'reductionist' British research managers, promoted a narrow view of science's contribution to the debate while at the same time formulating their assessment in terms that strengthened their claims to public science budgets. They were also able to assert scientific hegemony over the issues, excluding much from public debate. Perhaps it is therefore is not surprizing that Professor Bolin, identified as close to the Swedish Government, has asserted as chair of the IPPC: "In my view, it is impossible to resolve key scientific issues in articles aimed at the general public.[...] the scientific issues cannot so easily be explained" (Bolin, 1994).




The scientific consensus

The problems of consensus

The politics of consensus

The threshold of danger

The politics of science

Knowledge-based communities


Buying scientific credibility

Science and the three paradigms

A utilitarian hypothesis

A cobweb model, modified


What the Panel Said

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11 December 2000 Webmaster