Vol 3 Ed 29 » Columnistas » Was Trump structurally right on his climate change view? -Let’s make great the institutional model o

Was Trump structurally right on his climate change view? -Let’s make great the institutional model of science again-

Ricardo Andrés Roa-Castellanos  

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INTRODUCTION
“If we heal the Earth, we heal ourselves”
David Orr
 
For many of us, the idea of the future used to be a positive, mesmerizing development that, sooner or later, would bump into our adulthood. Quite the contrary, the present scenario is full of doomed imagery on the times to come. However, catastrophism is per se a form of pseudoscience according to Mario Bunge’s science philosophy.   
 
Some decades ago unforgettable characters such as Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Luke Skywalker, and Marty McFly, opened our imagination to an amiable and hopeful perspective: times ahead would not only be good, but also intrinsically improving along the ages.
 
As usual, in the context of a new millennium, pessimistic, misanthropist, and catastrophic views began to overflow pop culture. Fear and sad endings became a default pre-setting since myths such as Y2K. Those virtual rumors were later enhanced by real bad news such as the 9-11 attacks in 2001 and the global economic crises of 2008.
 
The Mayan prophecy’s (eventually turned out to be another false alarm), all sorts of “do not eat this and that because is carcinogenic and/or unhealthy”, together with irrational mottos like “vaccines cause autism”, and a cambric explosion of all sorts of pseudoscientific apocalyptic Hollywood films, piled up in the perceptions of the masses.
 
To decorate the ruling paranoia there was a master piece of its kind; the most effective political marketing strategy of recent times in the U.S.  The documentary “An inconvenient truth”, made by the former democrat candidate Al Gore, was released by 2006. Although scientific evidence on Climate Change (CC) was the backbone of this iconic film, a mankind problem was leaned to a specific political view and so the left ideologies almost “hijacked” the subject. Science, nevertheless, must be ideologically neutral.
 
As a consequence, the progressive social treatment of Climate Change and their institutional discourses slightly took party. British sociologist Anthony Giddens, author of works such as The Third Way. The Renewal of Social Democracy; The Global Third Way Debate and The Progressive Manifesto. New Ideas for the Centre-Left, in 2009 explained the institutional dynamics of the subject in The Politics of Climate Change. More or less, the idea was States had to control the greedy capitalist companies. Liberal spirit was split between freedom of action and a new Egalitarianism.
 
People along that interpretation was automatically victimized, and no recognition of the good results that industrial technology has brought to our lives, precisely by means of freedom was mentioned. Notwithstanding, either big or small companies; as well as the markets and the origins of their necessities, are also people that are contributing with technical and social improvements.
 
Social polarization despite of the good intentions was served. Recent mayhem seen in the Hamburg meeting of the G-20 is a consequential piece of that askew understanding.
 
As a result, some years ago, a previously unperceived African-American candidate was successfully elected in 2008 under two main slogans, “Hope” and “Change we can believe in[1]…    
 

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Figure 1. Samples of Key words of Obama’s political marketing campaign.

Gore -the more reliable CC leader- officially endorsed Obama campaign[2]. President Obama was elected and re-elected in 2012 (see correlated peaks of information in the heading graphic)[3]. But, unconsciously, the strategy on Climate Change was settled in the worst pseudoscientific way: bad guys versus good guys and they supposedly were in institutional battle. Common interest was understood as defended only by an ideological leader/party, the democrats.
 
Deep down, the problem was demanding unity and recognition of all the decision makers and all the parties involved instead.
 
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL: THE REAL GLOBAL SCOPE
 
Japanese ambassador in Spain, Masashi Mizukami, recently identified a useful characteristic relevant in this matter.
 
He proclaimed: “Big innovations in Japan are the product of private initiative[4].
 
Complex problems such as hungers, poverty and epidemics have been historically controlled in society also by facilitating private initiative. The aforementioned has been done through institutional work. Industries and Universities as well as Government agencies are some typological examples of effectiveness in social fields.  
 
In practical terms, it means science and technology are pulled by the financial support, in turn, granted by economically successful companies that invest directly in these types of developments and/or pay taxes to contribute in maintaining even public education functioning.
 
By protecting the national production machinery, science and technology that are related to mitigation and adaptation of Climate Change are now fostered. We cannot attack them. The solution can be achieved in that way.
 
Trump was stating, on the Paris Agreement, that it was necessary to renegotiate the deal. A poorly noticed “big word” was used to describe the agreement: “Draconian”, meaning cruel.
 
Exactly, what President Trump said about it was[5]:
 
“Therefore, in order to fulfill my solemn duty to protect America and its citizens, the United States will withdraw from the Paris climate accord – [applause] thank you, thank you – but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine. [Applause.] (…)
 “Thus, as of today, the United States will cease all implementation of the non-binding Paris accord and the draconian financial and economic burdens the agreement imposes on our country. This includes ending the implementation of the nationally determined contribution and, very importantly, the Green Climate Fund which is costing the United States a vast fortune.
“Compliance with the terms of the Paris accord and the onerous energy restrictions it has placed on the United States could cost America as much as 2.7m lost jobs by 2025 according to the National Economic Research Associates.” 
 
THE CURRENT INSTITUTIONAL MODEL
 
Referring to Climate Change the conventional model of response was initially deployed with three main tendencies that built, up to now, almost a dogmatic but not very effective mechanism to deal with:
 

  1. Governance (meaning political management based on NGO actions).
  2. Civil subjective emphasis under a week versus strong discourses (Firms and NGOs).
  3. Understanding Climate Change as a futuristic environmental problem.
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Figure 2. Conventional assumption of Climate Change (on the left) in comparison to an objectivity-prone General Systems Approach (on the right) –Graphic made by author.

After the presidential period of president Bush Junior, a well-known “oil-business” man, fossil fuels became a pivotal element in the issue of Climate Change. Political lobbyists claimed for them to be rejected for the American pop culture, however, the U.S. has been molded by the wheels of Ford…
 
Carbon fuels still are a leverage instrument in political Climate Change rhetoric. The Republican Party due to its caring position for the “market” and big companies, were -more and more- blamed and stigmatized for the underlying real phenomenon: Global warming, was later known as Climate Change.
 
A NEW INSTITUTIONAL COMPREHENSION VERSUS CONVENTIONALISM?
 
The recent atmospheric situation was described as both, hopeless and desperate. But this doomed mindset is not new in ideological terms.
 
The very same father of the field known as Political Economy, Thomas Malthus, did the same with an initially apocryphal writing. His work “An essay on the Principle of Population” was catastrophic. Population was a problem. Humanity would not even arrive to the XX century. Worse than that, the fathers of the most important economic schools received those bias. Theoretical capitalists Adam Smith and David Ricardo were Malthus’ direct students. Communist founder K. Marx was based on the theoretical apparatus of those English principles. Protectionist, J. M. Keynes, belongs also to the economic cradle of Great Britain, and somehow for them, population was a problem. Considering Keynes participation on the initial Eugenics movement with Darwin descendant, Francis Galton, even Keynes in spite of being labeled as protectionist, had some controversial opinions on “population”. Posterior characters such as Garret Hardin, Eric Pianka, Herman Daly and Paul R. Erlich (The Population Bomb -1968- ) transposed some subtle misanthropic prejudices on population to environmental sciences by the 60’s, 70’s and posterior decades.
 
It took until the XXI century to debunk the so-caled tragedy of commons and the demographic inaccuracies of the neomalthusian ideological perspective. Economics Nobel Prize Ellinor Ostrom and the Swedish scientist, physician and bio-statistician, Hans Rösling did an exhaustive work on refuting those ideas.
 
In the media, the 60´s “grim future” had some curious reflex. The film starring by Charlton Heston, Soylent green (1973), based on the Harry Harrison’s (1966) novel Make room! Make room! captures that catastrophism.
 
The overcrowded world obsessed with the greenhouse effect, pollution, culturally accepted euthanasia procedures, and nature devastation, showed a world not thinking about finding solutions to contamination and/or biorepairing alternatives. On the contrary, the paranoid plot kept the idea on how to get rid of “people”.
 
In real institutional terms, Global warming was admitted as a problem in 1988.
 
NASA scientist, James Hansen, had perfectly explained the scientific facts that arise atmospheric warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in response, as a result.
 
Objective academic involvement, therefore, right from the beginning was an asset. Drastic diagnostics were confirmed, but technical and scientific solutions started to see a light to look for.
 
Still, a given secondary role for the government in the trouble, in addition to an excluding role for industry, were negative trends inherited by activist-ideological anti-capitalist perspectives.
 
Erich Jantsch (1973), in opposition, translates the basis of biological Von Bertalanffy’s General System Theory into institutional management. Here, the author discovered the importance of including production (Industry) as a catalyst for adding value in public problem analysis.
 
Adding value is a north star for transdisciplinary approaches, as health researcher, Dr. Jakob Zinsstag, have stated in solving multiple species problems.
 
Forecasting, thus, can be done in more realistic / integrative ways when different realms of reality are included in analytical exercises.
 
Ideologies must be avoided -as much as possible- because they are too biased and passionate when trying to solve complex problems. Rationality tends to be diminished by ideological doctrines in those cases.
 
Operational, strategic and policy planning phases when translating science into normativity, can change the status quo, overall state. New comprehensions are certainly reached under premises of reality. Subjective views are taken into transdisciplinar accounts, but objective facts (i.e. funding for science and technology by operational enterprises) guide the solutions by including topics that otherwise had been missed and/or underestimated.
 
Climate change is not an exception. Today, while writing this article, I am witnessing Mr. Trump (make America great again) and Monsieur Macron (make the planet great again) shaking hands. There is real hope for the sake of the planet, science and policies driven by real facts instead of mere ideologies.   

col1im3der

Collage hecho por el autor

*Fuente de la imagen principal: President of the United States Donald J. Trump at CPAC 2017 February 24th 2017 by Michael Vadon.
Tomada deflickr.com


[3] Boykoff, M. T., & Yulsman, T. (2013). Political economy, media, and climate change: sinews of modern life. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change4(5), 359-371.

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