Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to Professor Emeritus David Shearman, some problems are beyond the comprehension of elected politicians, and should not be entrusted to their authority. The only way to halt the disintegration of Western democracy is for politicians to surrender power to independent peer appointed panels of scientists.
Climate change emergency cannot be solved by disintegrating democracies
BY DAVID SHEARMAN, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — 01/03/22 07:30 PM EST 1,097
THE VIEWS EXPRESSED BY CONTRIBUTORS ARE THEIR OWN AND NOT THE VIEW OF THE HILL
President Biden’s climate agenda was launched with hopes, prayers and the expectation of leadership to all world democracies, like a glorious ship set on a maiden voyage: the SS Biden. There is now deep concern that in stormy seas it has been driven onto rocks, still intact but in need of a high tide to free it.
Clearly, President Biden placed great reliance on reducing domestic emissions by a range of measures in a Build Back Better initiative, which was grounded on the rocks of a democratic congressman who appears to accept climate change and yet opposes constraints on fossil fuel production. The president now has to resort to executive orders and to a range of other measures, which do not require legislation.
This brings us to the crux of the problem. Our western democracies can no longer deliver consensus and action on issues that threaten the continued existence of humanity, not least the most powerful democracy in the world.
In the U.S., there are 109 members of the House of Representatives and 30 senators who refuse to acknowledge the scientific evidence of human-caused climate change. These members have received more than $61 million in lifetime contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries.
The U.S. is not alone in democratic disintegration. Climate denial and anti-vaccination sentiment exist in many countries but have not become as debilitating as they appear to have done in the United States.
Over the past four decades, the failures of liberal democracies to address environmental issues and particularly climate change have become increasingly apparent. In 2007, these failures were detailed and today we find they remain unaddressed. Indeed, one failure has become the salient problem, the need to separate governance from corporate capitalism.
The common denominator in current democratic failure is government unwillingness to accept that many of the problems we now confront are so complex and urgent as to be beyond the comprehension and abilities of elected officials. The issue of climate emergency is compounded by two additional interrelated issues: Elected officials place their political survival before collective needs and many defer to an overwhelmingly powerful fossil fuel industry for personal gain.
To become relevant today, elected governments have to be prepared to accept advice and guidance from independent commissions of scientists and other relevant experts selected by their peers — and not by political appointment. The details of this guidance need to be available to all parties and to the public. A starting model for the U.S. and many other countries might be a strengthened U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with appointees selected by peers and not politically appointed.
David Shearman (AM, Ph.D., FRACP, FRCPE) is a professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide, South Australia and co-founder of Doctors for the Environment Australia. He is co-author of “The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy” (2007) commissioned by the Pell Centre for International Relations and Public Policy.Read more: https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/588091-climate-change-emergency-cannot-be-solved-by-disintegrating
If you want to see what an Expertocracy or Technocracy looks like, a place where a significant portion of daily decision making is genuinely dominated by appointed panels of alleged experts, take a look at Communist China.
The following academic wet dream of how wonderful life is in China for educated people was published a few years ago in an engineering industry magazine.
The Chinese Government Is Dominated by Scientists and Engineers Their political elite are largely technocrats.
By Patricia Eldridge 3 years ago
When Chinese Government comes to mind, what things do you generally think of?
Most of you would say The Great Wall, feng shui, their food, pandas, cheap products, communism, and martial arts, among others. All of these are valid observations, as China is indeed famous for such. But I’d like to add something to that list, a thing that is so rare that China has to be remembered for it: most of the political leaders in China are scientists and engineers.
To prove that fact, let us play a quick game. Name a scientist or an engineer from your country’s top government officials. Don’t cheat with Google, just think of someone that you already know.
Now I doubt that you have thought one especially if you’re in the U.S.
Nowhere in the world can you see the same admiration and respect from the public to their scientists and engineers other than in China. This is a little known fact. They admire such professionals so much to the point that they qualify these people to be worthy and capable in handling political affairs.
The Chinese people believe that scientists and engineers, who eventually become technocrats, have a highly disciplined mind fit for public office.
…Read more: https://gineersnow.com/leadership/chinese-government-dominated-scientists-engineers
In my opinion this seductive offer of power is the real pulling power China has over Western academia. It is not just the shadowy grant money Chinese Communists provide to our elites, it is the promise of a future in which Western academics have greater say over government policy; the promise that if Western governments become more like China’s Communist Technocracy, academics will play a far greater role in civil government.
Those who are tempted by China’s seductive offer somehow overlook the fact that the offer of power is conditional on total obedience to the central authority. China did not hesitate to punish expert doctors who tried to warn the world about Covid. The local CCP leaders were upset when the doctors tried to speak out, because did not want anyone to know they had a problem.
To be fair, Professor Shearman does not mention China directly, and glancing through his writing, he is not a fan of China’s greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on coal. But in my opinion, a Chinese style Technocracy is effectively what Professor Shearman is describing, whether or not he is self aware enough to realise what he is saying.
Professor Shearman does not explain what he would want to happen, when ordinary people rebel against and refuse to follow “expert” directives, like the massive ongoing protests against vaccine mandates, or the yellow vest riots against carbon tax fuel hikes in France. I’m guessing Professor Shearman would want the views of his panels of peer appointed experts to prevail over the short sighted desires of the uneducated masses.
We’ve seen what happens in China when ordinary people object to government directives, or to ordinary people in China who demand a greater say over government policy.
Frankly I don’t want to live under such a system. We’ve all seen the bullying, pettiness and mindless cruelty of Western academic elites, like the mistreatment of Peter Ridd, and countless other cases.
Imagine if these people had a bigger say over your life? Imagine if the vicious internal politics of academia spilled out of universities and was inflicted on the whole of society? Imagine if these people were permanently put in charge of major levers of government like the EPA. Imagine if elected politicians were stripped of the power to remove them? Imagine if say the next US government was stripped of the power to remove people like Dr. Fauci from office?
Because that is what life is like in Communist China. That is effectively what Professor Shearman is calling for.
Thanks but no thanks, Professor Shearman.