Sunday, November 29, 2009

Attempt at a dialogue


If we SAY we are for democracy, then object to the suggestion that the people at large should have the power and responsibility to set overall limits on pollution and other environmental impacts, arguing that scientists should decide for us, aren't we acting more like a technocrat than a democrat?

Do you think we have a system now that ensures overall levels of pollution and rates of taking of natural resources are set by scientists operating in the public interest? I understand that this is the system that you want.

It seems to me that, on the contrary, what we have now is more tailored to the interests of industry than to sound, dispassionate science.

You never responded when I asked whether the people's preference should hold sway if popular opinion pointed to a more strict limit on pollution levels and other environmental impacts than what established scientific opinion called for. Your objection seemed based on a fear that the people at large, being non-experts and generally not educated about the particulars, would make bad judgements about acceptable levels of pollution and rates of taking of resources.

If a random-sample survey were to show that the people at large actually supported more strict limits on environmental impacts, would you be willing to reconsider your objection to the random-sample survey as an instrument of policy?