Science & Society 1B: Nature and Environment
David John Frank (1997) ‘Science, Nature and the Globalization of the Environment' Social Forces Vol. 76, No. 2, pp. 409-435
This article draws upon the development of public awareness, discourse and activity, of nature and the environment between 1870 and 1990. The author uses the existence and rise of international environmental treaties, as evidence for increase in public awareness. He analyses the way in which nature has been constructed by society and he develops models, topologies and themes which portray the “reconstitution of the entity nature”. This progresses into ecosystem models which are based on the function of time and the number of environmental treaties present in each model. Six models are explained and illustrated within the graphs and figures. The ecosystem model was used the most towards the latter half of the twentieth century but it wasn't present before the UN was established in 1945.
The author also explains how nature was seen as God's creation at the beginning of the era. However this idea diminished as time progressed and humans came up with rational explanations for human life on Earth. Nature was now known as an ecosystem. He correlates data and historical events in order to build up three hypotheses' which he continues to explain. The article develops into testing for the existence of the expected relationships, using evidence from event-history analyses and the independent variables. The aim is to show that, the redefinition of nature was due to the increase in international activity and awareness regarding nature.
The results show, humans are only one species that are dependent upon nature in order to survive. The increase in international environmental treaties suggests that, humans want to know what the ecosystem holds for the future. Globalization provides a setting for these environmental issues to be solved.
The structure of the article is carefully organised. Beginning with key issues and the current situation. This progresses into ideas and opinions on how they may have arisen. Graphs are used throughout to illustrate data and are used to justify ideas. These ideas develop into models and hypotheses', which are then discussed in order to be proved or disproved. Results are used to finally draw patterns, comparisons and conclusions.
If the author was in the room, I would ask him how he came up with such an organised and complex method to test for relationships. I would also ask, if he would continue the time period, in order to observe the relationships present now and the patterns that may or may not emerge.
Steven Yearley (1989) ‘Bog Standards: Science and Conservation at a Public Inquiry' Social Studies of Science Vol. 19, No. 3, pp. 421-438
Steven Yearley's article draws upon issues that deal with the sociology of science as well as science and the law. Yearley begins by explaining how science and the law function together in court. One of the key points he makes initially is the importance of public understanding of science. In order to reach a fair verdict, the public have to understand the scientific methods, equipment and evidence provided. He uses the example of heroin detection and the legal strategies and advice of Oteri, Weinberg and Pinales' paper in order for the reader to envisage and understand the arguments of a case.
The main context of the paper however is a public inquiry on the drainage of a peat bog. The author illustrates cross-examination of two sides: the conservationists and the developers. Yearley uses this case-study to portray how the scientific evidence is used and challenged in court whereas if it was normally observed by the public, they may see and judge it differently. The developer's are represented by the Queen's Counsel which uses models of detailed science which create conflict with that of the conservationists'. The scientists that represent the conservationists' case use argumentative strategies in comparison to the intense science used by the Queen's Counsel. Yearley ends the paper by comparing the debate within the inquiry to scientific controversies carried out in other circumstances.
The structure of this paper is very significant. It has a chronological flow to it and the reader not only connects with Yearley but more importantly, is able to understand the case study. There is an absence of complex scientific terminology and the explanations, which are well crafted, remain close to the evidential data. Therefore the reader is able to engage and grasp the concept. It is empirical, simple and specific, yet it remains scientific.
The key point of the paper is that scientific controversies can be advantageous and disadvantageous depending on how it is presented, challenged and defended as well as the knowledge and capabilities of the individuals arguing the cases. The outcome however is not the same when the public would judge it without conflicts arising, for example in court.
If the author was in the room, I would ask if he has carried out any other case studies related to this and what the outcomes were like for those case studies in comparison to this one.
The European Union:
The EU comprises of 27 democratic countries within Europe, and their main goal can be summarised as: peace, prosperity and freedom.
How does the European Union work?
The EU has a unique political system that has been evolving over 50 years, when implementing decisions. The decision-making triangle which constructs laws and policies, consist of the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. In order to function, it uses primary legislation known as Treaties which hold the foundations for secondary legislation and directly affects the EU citizens.
When the Council of the European Union, the main decision making hub provides the EU with political solutions at heads of state or at government levels it becomes the European Council. The European Commission represents the common interest of the EU and is the chief executive organisation. It ensures the EU policies are correctly implemented via legislative propositions. The European Parliament represents the people and it partners with the Council of the European Union in order to share budgetary and legislative power.
The European Union's position with respect to global warming:
The EU has always lead international action to fight climate change. The international negotiations must result in a legally binding global treaty that is complete, ambitious, reasonable and scientific.
The EU aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 2020 by 20% and also stated that it would have 1/10th of its vehicles running on bio fuels. It agreed to use 20% renewable energy and a 50% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050. This has been aided by an expansion of the European Forests between 1990 and 2005, which took up 126mill metric tons of carbon dioxide (11% of EU emissions from human activities).
In December 2009, the instigation towards a legally binding climate act was taken when the EU formally notified its interest in the Copenhagen Accord by submitting their emission reduction targets.