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Who should be protecting us? Are we being adequately protected? What should citizens do for themselves if they feel endangered -- within the law, or despite the law? With what expectations of success? Can we trust ourselves?. A Crisis of Trust. Controversies

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slide1

Who should be protecting us?

Are we being adequately protected?

What should citizens do for themselves

if they feel endangered --

within the law,

or despite the law?

With what expectations of success?

Can we trust ourselves?

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a crisis of trust
A Crisis of Trust
  • Controversies
    • Climate change, airborne particles, endocrine disruption, multiple chemical sensitivity, GMOs, chemicals in food (e.g., daminozide/Alar), shale oil extraction
  • Unmaskings
    • Asbestos, lead, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), plastics, bottled water, high dams
  • Doubts and surprises
    • Endocrine disruption, extreme weather events, GM crop “escapes,” marine dead zones, extinctions
  • Emerging technologies, unseen hazards
    • Nanoparticles, cloned animals, new nuclear power, radioactive waste

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public understanding of science
Public Understanding of Science
  • Conventional wisdom:
    • Publics are technically illiterate or poorly informed about very basic scientific facts.
    • Ignorance leads to:
      • “denialism” (e.g., on climate)
      • support for creationism
      • “alternative” beliefs (e.g., in astrology, homeopathy)
      • reduced support for scientific research
    • Scientists should communicate better with the public.
    • We need more monitoring and surveying of PUST

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american constitutional moments
American “Constitutional Moments”
  • 1946-1976
    • A generation of Jeffersonian logic (Jasanoff, Fischer)
  • Some major achievements
    • Administrative Procedure Act of 1946
    • NEPA and precaution of 1969
    • FOIA and the presumption of openness of 1972
    • FACA and the unbounding of expertise of 1972
    • Environmental administrative proceedings, 1970-1980
  • 1980-2010
    • Retreat from principles of openness and accountability

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reasons for wider citizen involvement
Reasons for Wider Citizen Involvement
  • Inadequate use of lay knowledge (Corburn)
  • Incorrect assumptions of lay ignorance; failure to respect public values (Gee and Stirling, Tar Sands action)
  • Inadequate inclusion in governance decisions (Fischer)
  • Inadequate remedies (BP oil spill)
  • Assumption of competence, enshrined in law, essential for democracy (Jasanoff)

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knowledge able citizens under law
Knowledge-able Citizens under Law
  • Increasing knowledge rights for citizens:
    • Right to know
      • Of exposure to risks
      • For informed consumption
      • To level the economic, social, and legal playing fields
    • Right to give informed consent
    • Right to demand reasons
    • Right to participate and offer expertise
    • Right to challenge irrational decisions
    • Right to appeal

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why trust 1000 ipcc scientists
Why trust 1000 IPCC scientists?
  • Not correspondence to nature
    • Signal(s) or noise – we may never know
  • Not classical scientific detachment
    • Not disinterested (research grants, prestige, political influence)
    • Not universal (reliance on models, uncertainty and judgment, interdisciplinarity)
  • Observance of democratic virtues
    • Representation
    • Transparency
    • Accountability

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when law and policy fail
When law and policy fail…
  • CHARLES DUHIGG
  • New York Times, December 17, 2009
  • The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks -- and still be legal.
  • Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.
  • But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

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popular risk assessment
Popular risk assessment

Nicholas Kristof, New York Times, November 7, 2009

  • Your body is probably home to a chemical called bisphenol A, or BPA. It’s a synthetic estrogen that United States factories now use in everything from plastics to epoxies — to the tune of six pounds per American per year. That’s a lot of estrogen.
  • More than 92 percent of Americans have BPA in their urine, and scientists have linked it — though not conclusively — to everything from breast cancer to obesity, from attention deficit disorder to genital abnormalities in boys and girls alike.
  • Now it turns out it’s in our food.
  • Should we be alarmed?
  • While the evidence isn’t conclusive, it justifies precautions. In my family, we’re cutting down on the use of those plastic containers that contain BPA to store or microwave food, and I’m drinking water out of a metal bottle now. In my reporting around the world, I’ve come to terms with the threats from warlords, bandits and tarantulas. But endocrine disrupting chemicals — they give me the willies.

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hard questions
Hard Questions
  • Why trust Bill McKibben?
  • Does it matter:
    • Where protesters are getting their knowledge?
    • Whether knowledge claims have been peer reviewed, and by whom?
    • What the affiliations of the protesters are?
    • How critical the need for new oil is, and how well government agencies have performed c/b/a?
    • What alternatives exist?

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a different view of environmental citizenship
A Different View of Environmental Citizenship
  • Trust in expertise results from openness and transparency: involving citizens
  • Laws and treaties should be designed to promote outsiders looking in
  • Reason itself is multiple, and needs “organized skepticism” to stay rational
  • Deliberation is essential for getting at underlying value differences
  • Mobilization is justified when democratic procedures fail

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