The Public Values Failures of Climate Science in the US

Minerva 49 (1):47-70 (2011)

This paper examines the broad social purpose of US climate science, which has benefitted from a public investment of more than $30 billion over the last 20 years. A public values analysis identifies five core public values that underpin the interagency program. Drawing from interviews, meeting observations, and document analysis, I examine the decision processes and institutional structures that lead to the implementation of climate science policy, and identify a variety of public values failures accommodated by this system. In contrast to other cases which find market values frameworks (the profit as progress assumption) at the root of public values failures, this case shows how science values ( knowledge as progress ) may serve as an inadequate or inappropriate basis for achieving broader public values. For both institutions and individual decision makers, the logic linking science to societal benefit is generally incomplete, incoherent, and tends to conflate intrinsic and instrumental values. I argue that to be successful with respect to its motivating public values, the US climate science enterprise must avoid the assumption that any advance in knowledge is inherently good, and offer a clearer account of the kinds of research and knowledge advance likely to generate desirable social outcomes
Keywords Public values  Climate science  Science policy  Global change  Research policy
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DOI 10.1007/s11024-011-9164-4
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The Republic of Science.Michael Polanyi - 1962 - Minerva 1 (1):54-73.

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