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Science in international negotiations

The Climate Change Convention: a load of hot air?

By Peter Hulm

'Greenwash'

Boehmer-Christiansen described the global warming issue as "greenwash for unpopular energy and taxation policies" (1995:1). O'Riordan (1995:6) also argues that the function of the IPCC in part was to provide formal justification of international control measures that would be expensive and cost jobs.

Boehmer-Christiansen further suggests that opportunistic responses to political developments, rather than new findings as claimed by scientists, led to policy changes (1995:10). As for the panel concern with consensus, she comments: "What consensual knowledge does improve is the influence of its creator" (ibid:2). In the case of the IPCC, British research leaders were able to switch much of the national research activity towards global environmental change at a time of severe reductions in other fields (ibid:8), while increasing centralized control over British science policy (ibid:1).

References

Summary

Introduction

The scientific consensus

The problems of consensus

The politics of consensus

The threshold of danger

The politics of science

Knowledge-based communities

'Greenwash'

Buying scientific credibility

Science and the three paradigms

A utilitarian hypothesis

A cobweb model, modified

Conclusion

What the Panel Said


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11 December 2000 Webmaster