Science plays an
important role in making environmental policy.
However, the science is rarely as definitive, clear, and authoritative
as we might hope. The purpose of this paper
- to critically examine and analyze the
scientific arguments about the severity of your environmental problem from
differing political viewpoints;
- to analyze how the body of scientific
knowledge can be legitimately assembled and interpreted in different ways
to yield competing views of the issue at hand;
- to understand how scientific views become a
proxy for conflicting values that underlie the conflict.
Your paper should
address the following issues:
- How do different advocates use science to
define/frame your environmental policy issue? Why does advocates' framing
of issues matter -- that is, how might it affect policymaking?
- What are the scientific arguments of
different groups about the extent of the problem and progress? What are the points of disagreement
among the different interests involved?
What is the debate over past successes? Over future priorities and need for future action?
- What is the baseline condition and how is
it established? What are the
different measures or dimensions of the environmental conditions in your
issue area? How are they
measured? How accurate are these
measurements? How much agreement
about the quality and conclusiveness of the scientific data? How do different groups propose to deal
with the scientific uncertainty?
- What are the critiques, from the left and
the right, of the other side's use of science?
- Can “better science” reconcile the
underlying political and policy dispute?
Administrative Details: (6-8 pages) due April 7
Sources: Please use a variety of public and
private reports and studies and feel free to includes charts, tables, and other
materials in Appendices. Just make sure
to analyze whatever you include. Some
potential sources are below. You should
review both the views of both the Naysayers and Optimists on what the state of
the science is.
(Government) Sources http://www.epa.gov as well as
other government agencies
Institute, World Resources (biennial, and a treasure of reliable data on
global conditions and trends). http://earthtrends.wri.org/
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute,
called "the best environmental think tank in the country" by The
Wall Street Journal, (http://www.cei.org/sections/section1.cfm
- The Pacific Research Institute Index of
Leading Environmental Indicators- http://www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/enviro/01_enviroindex/index.html
- The Heartland Institute's Environment Issue
Suite contains more than 1,000 studies and commentaries. It advocates “common-sense
environmentalism relies on sound science and free markets, not scare
tactics and politics.” http://www.heartland.org/IssueSuites.cfm?issId=2
- The American Council on Science and Health http://www.acsh.org
Stylistic things to remember
simple sentences are always better than long, complicated ones.
voice is always preferable to passive voice.
concrete statements are better than vague, indirect statements.
for an educated general audience, not for me or for classmates who have
read the material.
the same lines, avoid jargon.
all, make everything you write lively and interesting!