Friday, December 15, 2006

Science and Public Policy

Just two additional comments here:

First, in yesterday's post I mentioned that I wanted to hear Al Gore's speech to the American Geophysical Union. Well, it is online, both text and video, at the KGO-TV. Maybe it is a bit long (52:18) on self-deprecating humor, and the audio has a large room echo, but interesting never the less. His point about the divergence of science and culture is well taken. He quoted someone as saying "John Stuart Mills was the last man to know everything."

Along with this disjunction, there comes the fact that we have politicized science so that (Yes, here he used that term.) inconvenient truths need not to be discussed. This is not a new, 21st Century phenomenon. The story of Gallileo attests to the fact that scientific truths, when convenient, are always challenged by some power structure. The question is rather what we do about it.

As Greens, we need to begin to take leadership in restoring a scientific view of the world as a basis for policy. What better basis is there for policy than a factual view of the world as it really exists, or as close to that as the best minds of our time can achieve?

I am not sure that many Greens are ready to do that. There is an orthodoxy in progressive thought that is just as rigid as the orthodoxy of church in Gallileo's time, one that would deny those truths that challenge their assumptions about how the world really is.

One of the things that I do is to watch the number of people who read this blog, especially those who read more than the latest post on the home page. Those numbers go up when I post about internal Green politics and go down when I post about ecology. From this I conclude that either people are not interested in the subjet or, conversely, assume that there is nothing that they can do about such big, not so easy to understand issues.

To return to Gore's speech, it is his view the the current "Climate Crisis" is only a symptom of a greater, underlying conflict between human kind as a species and our planet. If that is true, then there is no political structure that is better positioned to "frame" these issues and suggest solutions to the problems that they present, than the Green Party. I really pains me that we are not exerting any kind of leadership here.


Lisa said...

Check out the
The A to Z Guide to Political Interference in Science
by Union of Concerned Scientists

Wes said...

That is a good find, Lisa. Anyone else can find it

I am increasingly of the opinion that others, unencumbererd with politlcal baggage acutally do something while Greens tend to sit around and talk about it.

A good example of activisim diverted is that of Charlotte Casey. She was once a member of the Santa Clara County Council. She wrote for Green Focus. Now, she is often qoted in the media as an organizer for South Bay Mobilization. There is nothing wrong with that. It is just an example of the fact that actuall doing something as a Green means getting outside the Green Party to do accomplish your ends.

Lisa said...

I agree with you somewhat, though I find most of the hardcore activist Green Party members in Los Angeles that I respect ARE involved in groups outside the party:

Linda with South Central Farmers and Hotel Workers, Patrick with LAANE and Hotel Workers, Zack started the Santa Monica Critical Mass bike ride and networks at Green Drinks, Tracy with KPFK, Denise with renters rights, and so on. And they are doing this partly to make the Green Party visible in those areas that the party supports.

And I'm always encouraging newer Greens to be Seen Being Green, that is, make the party visible in your other activist work. Often 1 or 2 Greens are in a group and they never mention it, thus losing an opportunity to recruit Greens with their goodworks.

I just ran into a longtime Green at the Alt. Auto Expo. He was unable to attend our meetings for several years as the he sat on the Ex. Comm of the Sierra Club which met the same night. His plan was to get the Green Party more visible in leadership of the Sierra Club. I should invite him to speak at a meeting now and tell us what transpired.

Lisa said...

Oh, and p.s. many Greens were there at the very beginning helping at Arlington West Memorial.

Sally and Peter are diehard Greens, though they never attend our meetings because of a conflict and aren't on email lists or internal party crap.

They are artists and became filmmakers to make a film about Arlington West. Most people would probably not think of them as Greens first, though they were very vocal in support of Nader and lost a lot of their progressive friends over it.

Most people in LA know them as the heart and soul of the progressive, peace movement in Los Angeles for 3 decades.

Lisa said...

And Peter Thottam with ANSWER, National Lawyers Guild and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace (ICUJP); and Byron and Rebecca with interfaith groups, specifically Jewish and Muslim, etc.

Thanks, Wes, you've just clarified for me why I respect these people. It's a pretty good indicator if someone is way involved in internal disputes and they aren't doing anything visible outside the party... then ..well you get it. ;-)

Wes said...

That is right.

The purpose of these other groups is to change minds. The purpose of the Green Party is to get people elected so that we can change laws.

As for other groups, I was added today to the Environmental Water Caucus.