Archives de Catégorie: R&D&I

Who is fundamentalist ?

I just came across the interview of Mr. Zaruk about « EU R&D hostage of ‘eco-religious fundamentalism’ and must say that I’m appaled and scared when reading his views. But on the other side he only expresses himself as what he is, a former lobbyist of  the chemical industry more interested probably in pushing through some private interests than the global commons.  Philosophy didn’t help him out to be wise and for balanced arguments…This is the kind of blind and non-constructive argumentation which is disgraceful of somebody who apparently wants to contribute to a better future…So be ready for attacks against the EU as an institution and its policy makers, the EU citizens’, the ‘environmentalists’, the NGOs…

Even though some of his arguments and remarks are somewhat valid and justified (like the one on the WHO scaring everybody on H1N1 while there are other more serious threats), he seems largely the hostage himself of ‘sciencetech-religious fundamentalism’ which will lead us nowhere neither…It is a pity that such crucial questions are answered in such a bad way.

In his analysis of Europeans and Americans it is easy to understand that in his narrow-minded opinion, Europeans are definitively on the bad side, full of their ancient fears, frozen in a ‘looser attitude’ and so the question ‘Why are Europeans not embracing innovation?’. I must say that a lot of the given arguments are simply ridiculous such as « it is science and its technological advances that caused all the carbon increase and global warming »…Anyone a bit clever knows that it is not science nor technology which caused/causes global warming but the humans and their behaviour, the use humans make of what science and technology come up with. It is like with GMOs: science and technology made it possible but it is up to our society/communities to make the decision whether to use this discovery or not. In Mr. Zaruk’s point of view science & technology come first, they are like a religion which should be followed without any questioning. He writes that ‘rather than God we have Gaia’ which he dislikes because he wants that ‘rather than God we have science’. And what about humans, people and societies? Science and technology is an outcome of  people’s activity, work and reflexions which is available to humans and not the other way round: our societies are not there to blindly serve ‘science& technology’, the people leading and driving ‘science&technology’ and to follow their recommendations blindly…Science serves society, not society science! Mr. Zaruk seems to have forgotten that we leave in a time of democracy where each society decides of its common future as a community in transparent and open processes and not under the leadership of a self-declared class of scientists/experts deciding on their own for the good of everyone…Whether you like it or not Mr Zaruk, ‘science& technology’ have gone a little bit more under a kind of ‘social control’ which is an excellent evolution of democratic societies. Unfortunately, or happily for Mr. Zaruk, this is still not always the case and several fundamental decisions for our future on this planet are made primarly by closed circles and in non-transparent processes involving  scientists/experts and politicians without much or any input or consultation of the civil society. Scientists can’t be blamed for that, politicians and lobbyists who push for non-tranparency, yes!

The precautionary principle and the reverseal of the burden of proof is exactly in this evolution of a social control of ‘science&technology’ and is also the consequence of the decades of environmental scandals and health catastrophes due to a bad use of ‘science&technology’, usually because ‘industry&business& lobbyists’ have pushed hard for a non-precautionary approach…There a plenty of examples on that, be it the asbestos scandal in France, nuclear incidents or accidents in the past, Seveso, BSE, the on-going dangerous use of some pesticides etc…Of course people get scared and warry of any scientific and technological development with a certain level of risk…Wouldn’t the industry with the help of some scientists and the majority of politicians have lied for decades (with the following catastrophes), we wouldn’t be at this point where probably some positive developments are sometimes stopped or delayed because of more risk-aversion. It’s life, when you lie, trust gets lost…And trust is not a ‘commodity’ as it’s stated in the last paragraph, it’s in human’s heart and mind…

The point that Mr. Zaruk does obviously not mention about ‘risk’ is that it is almost always the weakest and poorest of the society which eventually bear the dark side of the risk, so the case where the negative development gets reality, not those who make the decisions and sit in the comfortable leading positions. A kind of privatisation of the profits and socialisation of the costs…‘Let’s take the risk, if it works well it’s good for everyone and perfect for those who will make big money with it and if it turns bad, it’s only bad for normal citizens, profits and glory were made and are safe for those who are made the decisions’ . This is the kind of philosphy which is developped here and that’s why his arguments are really those of a real coward and show that he has learnt nothing or little from past environmental and health related catastrophes.

So to write that « Precaution is a policy tool for cowards » is an absolute shame and an insult for all those who work for sustainable development and ‘science&technology’. 

It is easy now to attack those who care more for the general interest than to ask experts/politicians/industry for transparency and responsible behaviour.

And then he also comes up with ‘creationism’ and tends to mix environmentalists and creationists or Catholics writing that ‘and a lot of environmentalists look at science as a threat, as did the Catholic Church’…really a shame…Since he believes so much in science my question is ‘where are the scientific studies, sociological analysis to make such a miserable statement ?’ Probably Mr. Zaruk knows very little about ‘environmentalists’ but doesn’t hesitate to judge quickly. If he would have a bit more humility he would first recognize that ‘environmentalists’ do not exist as such but it’s easier for his attacks to group the ‘non-believers’ as he thinks into a categorywhich is easily recognizable…Among the ‘environmentalists’ the variety of people and opinion is as diverse and large as in any other groupings, say the ‘liberals’, the ‘conservatives’ etc…Maybe some are negative on science, others not. Hence he completely forgets that probably the majority of people who want to protect the environment are very favourable to science and see it as a solution, at least a partial solution to environmental issues. A lot of the current scientific and technological discoveries and solutions (think about renewable energies for instance) were actually made possible by the relentless work on research and development for decades by people one could easily describe as ‘crazy’ because you must really have been crazy to work and believe in what science and technology delivers today to protect the environment at a time when nobody cared about it, so 10, 20 or 30 years ago.

It is a real pity for ‘science&technology’ to be defended by such a weak advocate because indeed ‘science&technology’ is crucial to find out solutions towards sustainable development (including chemicals) but when one pours everything,  without any tasting, in the same glass, one takes the risk to have to throw it all into the toilets, the very tasty included… A good cocktail is one with measured drinks…

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The Global Commons – Our Shared Resources

Rajesh Makwana, the Director of Share The World’s Resources (www.stwr.org), an NGO campaigning for global economic and social justice, makes an interesting analysis on ‘the global commons’ @: The Global Commons – Our Shared Resources