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First Up: Nancy and Clark

October 18, 2010

UPDATE 9:43: David Keith is asking about how to link science and decision making. Focus on process alone doesn’t do it for him. He’s worried that once people start geoengineering, they’ll continue to do it. Phil Rasch adds that progress can only be made by a small number of people. Jane Long says that part of the deliberative process includes the discussion of the goals. Clark says that the system is designed to undercut the deliberative process, so one answer is that we need to have this conversation connecting geoengineering to climate change to other major issues that we’re worried about, but he also has a great deal of sympathy for the idea that a clear conversation up front about geoengineering on its own terms might actually get us to the point at which we have some pretty clear guidelines.

Andrew Light (GMU and the Center for American Progress) mentions that post climategate that at least 60-65 percent of the population believes that climate change is real. People still, to a large degree, confuse climate change and ozone hole stuff, but still defer largely to the scientific community.  We’ve made a lot of progress at and since Copenhagen, and we’re moving forward in Cancun, the question is, practically, what will prevent the architecture of the UNFCCC from sucking in the space on geoengineering. It’s the obvious place where we’d have this discussion. How could we have the discussion there given that there are so many institutional pressures that may seek to capture and steer that discussion.

UPDATE 9:30: Wants to discuss principles of incrementalism, inclusivity, complexity, interdisciplinarity, transparency, and rationality. Now we’re going to take some questions. Alan Robock says, “hey, the real world is messier. Whatchyoo talkin’ ’bout Miller?” Clark says that he’s not arguing that we haven’t had global negotiations about what to do. Of course, we have, he says. The Montreal Protocol is a good example. (Actually, this was Robock’s example, but no matter.) Clark Miller just used the term “bromides,” which I appreciate.

On the second point, he agrees that the world is a messy place. He thinks the problem with global climate change is that we haven’t tried to do this. He thinks that given the degree to which climate change depends on deeply entrenched interest, it is only through widespread public deliberation that we’re going to change the political calculus of our leadership.

Nancy adds that there’s a gap between understanding and action.

Lauren Hartzell is surprised that there was so little normative discussion in the coverage of institutional design. Clark responds that there aren’t a lot of shoulds because we’re not really in a place to answer these should questions. Some of these will have to be determined locally.

UPDATE 9:16: Now Clark Miller (Arizona State) is on the stage. Here’s his abstract. Talking about “Institutionalizing Public Trust and Credibility.” He’s asking whether we want to do this “right.” Whether we want to pursue geoengineering solutions through processes of global democratic deliberation. There are some reasons to treat this as primarily as a managerial problem. That’s a plausible approach… but he’s at least asking whether this is the sort of thing that we want to do through a robust process of democratic deliberation. Making four key points (some of which I pull directly from his slides; I don’t claim the language as my own):

1) the central problem is one of legitimacy; where this is understood as a property of democratic societies in which they set bounds on the legitimate exercise of power.

2) neither science nor philosophy can settle the question of the legitimacy of SRM; this is a problem for democratic publics to judge through deliberation.

3) deliberation can be better or worse; results will impact the legitimacy of the actions ultimately taken

4) as a practical matter, the quality of deliberation is a matter of robustness to which public dialogue and reasoning

UPDATE 9:15: We have a trust deficit, she says. To pay off the deficit, presumably to avoid debt, we need to engage the public more. Huzzah!

UPDATE 9:10: Something tells me that liveblogging philosophers is nowhere near as interesting as liveblogging Sarah Palin.

First speaking at the geoengineering conference is Nancy Tuana, professor at Penn State University, who says, hey, this is a controversial issue. A little momentary clashing over some jargon, but basically, Tuana is arguing that if we’re planning to be engaged in testing of geoengineering, we need to subscribe to ELSI standards. No idea wht this is.

She’s now conducting some sort of ethical-epistemic analysis, suggesting that methodological choices and assumptions can bias results. Here’s her abstract.

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