Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Earth System Governance

I am not one for centralized, command-and-control structures. Bureaucracy worries me for two main reasons:
  1. because even the most well-meaning individuals are vulnerable to making their bureaucratic empires self-perpetuating, and
  2. decisions which are made without personal accountability for the outcomes tend over time to become the wrong decisions.
Part of my suspicion of the AGW religion is that it attracts opportunists who will use it to further their own ambition of telling the rest of us what we can and cannot do, much as Total Quality programs in industry tend (in my experience) to attract bossy people who can't earn authority on their own merits.

I favour complete personal freedom and complete personal accountability over an absence of both. (If you propose instead a system of freedom without accountability then please check back in after you become an adult.)

There is an entity called the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP) whose website describes it as:
an international, interdisciplinary science programme, dedicated to promoting, catalysing and coordinating research, capacity-development and networking on the human dimensions of global environmental change. It takes a social science perspective on global change and works on the interface between science and practice. IHDP is a joint programme of the International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the United Nations University (UNU).
This UN-affiliated institute has published an interesting paper on "Earth System Governance", a label I had not seen before. To quote the paper:

“Earth System Governance entails decision-making about human and environmental interaction from the smallest to the biggest scales: in grass-roots, non-profit, and non-governmental organisations, and city, country, and world-wide governments.”

Hmmm. I note an absence of industry representation in the governance model. And what is the world-wide government? I don't recall seeing the election signs.

The article summarizes the task behind the Earth System Governance initiative:

It is the task of developing integrated systems of governance, from the local to the global level, that ensure the sustainable development of the coupled socio-ecological system that the Earth has become.

The development of theories to understand, and of
strategies to advance, earth system governance evolves today into one of the most important but possibly also most difficult tasks for the social sciences. It involves questions of the emergence, design, and effectiveness of governance systems as well as the overall integration of global, regional, national, and local governance—that is, the quest for effective architectures of earth system governance.”

Does the idea of "decision-making" being guided by well-meaning social scientists and NGOs ensuring that everything we do qualifies as "sustainable" ring loud alarm bells?

Imagine your provincial Human Rights Commission in charge of a bio-fuels program and you have some idea of what might worry me.

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