Decisions may go wrong in the time of climate change
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Decisions may go wrong in the time of climate change. By Jan-Gustav Strandenaes Senior Policy Adviser ANPED. Rachel Carson, .

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Decisions may go wrong in the time of climate change l.jpg

Decisions may go wrong in the time of climate change

By Jan-Gustav Strandenaes

Senior Policy Adviser

ANPED


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Rachel Carson,

  • brilliant and soft-spoken oceanographer from the US, was among the first to sound the environmental alarm bells in her books ‘the Dead Oceans’ and ‘Silent Spring’ from the early 1960s.


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Barry Commoner, American environmentalist active in the 1970s,

  • ‘three impossible laws of environment’

  • We cannot clean ourselves out of pollution.

  • We cannot return a product back to its original state of raw material

  • We cannot reproduce to 100% nature’s own balanced ecosystem.


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We are in a quandary: 1970s

  • We need quick actions but will see no quick results.

  • We need quick capital and massive finance to pay for these actions, with no promise of quick and massive returns.

  • We need simple understanding to complex problems.

  • We need commitments to last for 30 years and more, but our fear and impatience, do not speak of maintaining a high level of commitments for as long as it takes.


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Basic premise for democracy. 1970s

  • One is about the individual person being able to make an informed choice.

  • The other is that the individual person will be able to understand the consequences of the informed choice.


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Provided relevant information is available 1970s

  • are these choices possible to make? Are they possible to make in different societal formations?


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are these choices possible to make? 1970s

  • In a small society

  • In a big, complex society

  • In a technological society

  • In a complex and technologically based and technologically oriented society

  • In a global society

  • In a fast moving society?


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Difficult to understand 1970s

Or are choices which will have to be made in a complex and interdependent society so difficult to understand that we will inevitably come to rely

  • on elites?

  • on experts?

  • and on control systems?

    In short will we be subject to a dictatorship of circumstances?


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In the name of curbing global warming, 1970s

  • the same leaders may want to take actions that favour the few and strong to the detriment of the many. Leaders need to respect the interests of the common man and woman as much as fiscal politics and humongous investments. Certain values are universal. People’s attitudes, political preferences, interest rates and investment policies are not set in stone; justice and equity are.


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The Charter of the UN 1970s

  • “To reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small, and to establish conditions under which justice and respect for the obligations arising from treaties and other sources of international law can be maintained, and to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom ...”


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standards 1970s

  • our motives must be guided by these standards;

  • our actions must be guided by these standards;

  • our plans must be directed by these standards.


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Life’s toughest choices: 1970s

  • “Life’s toughest choices are not between good and bad but between bad and worse. We call these choices lesser evils. We know that whatever we do, something important will be sacrificed. Whatever we do, someone will get hurt. Worst of all we have to choose …


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Life’s toughest choices: 1970s

  • In choosing lesser evils in order to avoid greater ones, rules matter, … but process matters more. Where mistakes are inevitable and we need to correct them quickly, it is vital that those who make the choices are forced, as often as possible, to justify their decisions and account for their mistakes …


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Life’s toughest choices: 1970s

  • The double sense in which democracies stand against violence is: positively, they seek to create free institutions where public policy is decided freely, rather than by fear and coercion; negatively, they seek to reduce to a minimum, the coercion and violence necessary to the maintenance of order among free peoples.”


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Life’s toughest choices: 1970s

  • “Even extreme necessity cannot override democratic processes and the obligation to balance strong measures with basic commitments to full public justification.”


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One of the major dilemmas of the UN 1970s

  • is the obvious mandate given the organisation to implement agreed standards and the need to create the political understanding and will globally to be able to do precisely that without trespassing on national sovereignty. Not an easy task.


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Just a reminder 1970s

It is never too late


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