An inconvenient democracy

In: Uncategorized

10 Jan 2010

Nico Stehr and Hans von Storch, two German professors, argue on Roger Pielke Jr’s blog that supporters of the climate change orthodoxy are increasingly open in their attacks on democracy: “Within the broad field of climatology and climate policy one is able to discern growing concerns about the virtues of democracy. It is not just the deep divide between knowledge and action that is at issue, but it is an inconvenient democracy, which is identified as the culprit holding back action on climate change. As Mike Hulme has noted, it can be frustrating to learn that citizens have minds of their own.”

They highlight culprits in several countries:

* America. James Hansen, one of the most prominent American climate scientists, has argued “the democratic process does not work”. Paul Krugman, a New York Times columnist, who argues failure to except climate change orthodoxy is nothing less than a betrayal of the planet. Thomas Friedman, a colleague of Krugman’s on the newspaper, who presents the authoritarian state of China as a model to be admired and perhaps copied for its green policies.

* Australia. David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith, two scholars, who argue openly in their book The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy that authoritarian government is needed to tackle the threat of climate change.

* Britain. James Lovelock, who emphasised in The Vanishing Face of Gaia, that we need to abandon democracy in order to meet the challenges of climate change.

* Germany. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, a German climate scientist, who argues we need a “great transformation” to a sustainable way of life.

An earlier version of the article appeared in German in Der Spiegel.

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