Both the New York Times and Nature carried stories on the Montreal Protocol being used for some climate change mitigation action. Not breaking news admittedly but Nature in particular covered some of the deficiencies of the CDM well in their report. Check them out.
That got me thinking some more about Montreal. Which in turn made me reread some of Karen Litfin’s Ozone Discourses. Litfin comes from the political science school, something I hadn’t quite appreciated until this week. OD was written in 1994 but even then Litfin had the prescience to understand how Montreal could and indeed would be used as a template for future global governance agreements. Hello climate change and hello Kyoto. ‘Cept, and Litfin gets this even before these mistakes were made, the wrong lessons were taken from Montreal. Science as an independent and objective epistemological community was not what won the day in Montreal. No, Litfin paints a much more interesting picture of the interplay between power and knowledge.
- Power in this case was not reducible to material resources (think weath, gold, beer).
- Nation’s longterm interests were unclear regarding the big hole in the Antarctic. This meant knowledge becomes a significant source of power.
- Therefore the determination of state interest invoked all sorts of subnational processes in which science wove a complex patchwork quilt of knowledge/power.
Interesting stuff indeed. And lots of lessons for those who would have us “listen to science” in the hope of that providing some sort of medicine for what ails us.
Speaking of Political Science (caps intended), I saw Robert Keohane deliver a tidy lecture on regime complexes and climate change at the LSE Monday night. Keohane is one of those very old school US academics who has taught at more Ivy League schools than he hasn’t. So very serious big thinking post-hegemonic thoughts. Bottom line: The UNFCCC doesn’t work (no shit!) as a hegemonic institution, so the answer here is stop trying to solve all of climate change with one big deal and go after what we can where we can. A regime complex see! Regimes mentioned included the G8/20, theMEF and Montreal (oh hello!) and the UNFCCC in some sort of parallel dimension type role.
Also at LSE recently was Will Hutton talking about ‘fairness‘, a subject on which he has recently written. I wasn’t there but I listened to the podcast at lunch. Some interesting thoughts, particularly around the concept of luck. Some people are simply born into less opportune circumstances, bad luck according to Hutton. Should these folk be punished by society as a result and what are the ethical arguments for accessing this quandary. Go listen.
Speaking of fairness in society (and just about every politician and social scientist can’t seem to stop right now), my friend Niel drew my attention to the fact the UN Human Development Index will for the first time include a ranking of inequality. That’s good!
This week I’ve been listening to Orange Juice. Check them!