Arquivo mensal: junho 2010

A arte do (des)encontro

Parceria entre cientistas e jornalistas em prol da cultura científica ainda está distante

Mariluce Moura, de Madri e Brasília
Pesquisa FAPESP, Edição Impressa 172 – Junho 2010

Ainda que jornalistas sejam na origem generalistas por definição, hoje estão se acumulando as evidências de que os profissionais do jornalismo científico em toda parte – e não apenas nos paí­ses de tradição anglo-saxônica – investem mais e mais na estratégia do aperfeiçoamento contínuo para exercer seu ofício com o necessário rigor, espírito crítico e, claro, um grau de conhecimento indispensável do campo que é objeto de suas narrativas. Nessa busca valem tanto os caminhos tradicionais da pós­-graduação que permitem refletir e investigar com apoio teórico e mais profundamente sua própria prática quanto as oficinas e workshops de caráter mais pragmático que se propõem, por exemplo, a ampliar em curto prazo a competência dos jornalistas no manejo das bases de dados de produção científica, na separação do joio e do trigo – diga-se, ciência e pseudociência – dentro da vastidão da web e nas vias de articulação possíveis e eficazes entre redes sociais e jornalismo, entre outros temas. E é possível que essa tendência se expanda, com novos apoios institucionais, a julgar por uma das principais recomendações do seminário “A cultura e a ciência narradas pelos jornalistas: desafios e oportunidades”, realizado de 20 a 22 de abril passado, em Madri: dar alta prioridade à formação e ao aperfeiçoamento contínuo dos jornalistas voltados para a ciência e a cultura, ampliando-se os mecanismos de bolsas e outras formas de financiamento para tanto nos países ibero-americanos.

Depois de dois dias e meio de debates intensos levados a cabo por quase meia centena de jornalistas, professores, pesquisadores e produtores culturais da Espanha e de vários países da América Latina – o Brasil entre eles –, essa recomendação, assim como a de procurar as conexões entre cultura, ciência e tecnologia no jornalismo, a de se adaptar o trabalho jornalístico aos novos formatos que a internet oferece e a de formar uma ampla rede de cooperação de jornalistas de ciência e de cultura na web, tinha o respaldo das instituições por trás do seminário. Eram elas a Organização dos Estados Ibero-americanos para a Educação, a Ciência e a Cultura (OEI), por quem falou seu secretário-geral, Alvaro Marchesi, e a Fundação Novo Jornalismo Ibero-americano (FNPI), representada por seu diretor-geral, Jaime Abello, com o apoio da Agência Espanhola de Cooperação para o Desenvolvimento (Aecid), da Agência Efe e Escola de Jornalismo UAM-El País.

Vale dizer que essas recomendações consensuais foram construídas a despeito de toda a diferença entre as experiências de jornalismo científico e cultural apresentadas e mesmo das divergências conceituais profundas que se explicitaram. Assim, se para alguns jornalistas a internet e a democratização da produção de conteúdos via web representam uma ameaça à própria existência de sua profissão, para outros, como o diretor adjunto do respeitado jornal espanhol El País, Gumersindo Lafuente, constituem um belo desafio à quase reinvenção do jornalista. “Nossa narrativa foi sempre conectada com a realidade e hoje a realidade está nas ruas e está na rede. Como jornalistas, temos que contar o que se passa também na rede”, disse ele. Observou que não estamos mais em tempo de esperar que as pessoas vão em busca dos meios de comunicação, e sim em tempo “de irmos com nossas histórias aos lugares em que se está falando dos temas que tratamos na internet”. Lafuente destacou que mais que nunca é fundamental o papel do jornalista independente, capaz de filtrar o que tem valor e de contrastar a informação no mar fervilhante da internet. E ainda apostou que, como num ambiente darwiniano, “as plataformas da internet que tenham qualidade, sejam blogs ou twitters, se converterão em marcas, enquanto os meios que já são marcas só vão sobreviver se conservarem sua qualidade”.

Divergências também se levantaram em torno da propriedade ou impropriedade de um caráter mais literário nas narrativas do jornalismo científico. Se para María Ángeles Erazo, diretora do Centro de Estudos sobre Ciência, Tecnologia, Sociedade e Inovação de Otovalo, no Equador, e Liliana Chávez, jornalista da revista mexicana Día Siete, é necessário hoje experimentar novos gêneros para contar de forma atraente e mais literária fatos do campo da ciência, a jornalista Milagros Pérez Oliva, professora da Escola de Jornalismo UAM-El País e ombudsman de El País, vê nessas tentativas “um perigo para o jornalismo e seus profissionais, além de uma contaminação narrativa”, uma vez que “a linguagem jornalística é objetiva”.

A propósito, Milagros, ao participar no dia anterior da mesa-redonda sobre “divulgação do conhecimento científico e as indústrias da ciência” (que incluiu a apresentação sobre a experiência de Pesquisa FAPESP), observara que “a notícia científica tem um grande valor quando bem elaborada, porque gera opinião e conhecimento, mas é a mais arriscada quando malfeita e tendenciosa porque pode provocar danos sociais pelos quais vamos todos pagar”. Em sua visão as portas do jornalismo estão cada dia mais abertas para a pseudociência, o que exige, em especial na informação digital, contenção e comprovação.

No meio das discussões pairava alguma coisa da fala do professor José Manuel Sánchez Ron, catedrático de história da ciência na Universidade Autônoma de Madri, na conferência inaugural do encontro. “Cultura e ciência são parte da vida intelectual, mas entre elas existe uma mútua incompreensão, hostilidade e antipatia.” Os meios de comunicação, além de informar, em sua visão, devem educar ao tratar da ciência – com o que dificilmente algum jornalista concordará em termos estritos. “O jornalista, além de crítico e rigoroso no desempenho de sua função, não deve renunciar à imaginação e à boa escrita, para fazer da ciência precisamente algo interessante e oportuno”, disse ele. E ainda: “É importante escrever bem, com graça e originalidade quando se fala de ciência”.

Silêncio e ruídos – Se no front dos jornalistas e dos cursos de comunicação há visível preocupação com a qualidade do jornalismo científico, há indícios de que dentro do sistema nacional de ciência e tecnologia a ideia de parceria com os meios de comunicação para difundir a cultura científica na sociedade, que parecia vicejar no começo da década, experimenta hoje retrocesso. Assim, na IV Conferência Nacional de Ciência, Tecnologia e Inovação, realizada de 26 a 28 de maio em Brasília (ver reportagem na página 26), evento em que se procurou ressaltar ao máximo as parcerias entre a comunidade científica, o Estado, os empresários e os chamados setores sociais, para o desenvolvimento de uma verdadeira sociedade do conhecimento no país, o papel da mídia foi ignorado, mesmo quando se falava em popularização da ciência. Entre todos os debates, reservaram-se apenas 15 minutos à fala de um jornalista, aliás, uma jornalista, a presidente da Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Científico (ABJC), Cilene Victor, dentro da sessão “Construção da cultura científica”. Vale lembrar que na II Conferência Nacional, em 2001, sob o comando do ministro Ronaldo Sardenberg e organização do professor Cylon Gonçalves, foram várias as mesas que debateram a questão da comunicação pública da ciência com mediação do jornalismo.

Dessa forma, parece voltar à cena, de certa maneira, uma velha visão meramente instrumental do jornalismo ante a ciência, o primeiro submetido à segunda, em vez de uma visão mais contemporânea de parceria para a difusão social do conhecimento.

* A jornalista viajou a convite da Organização dos Estados Ibero-americanos (OEI).

>Tensions Grow Between Tornado Scientists and Storm Chasers

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By Jeffrey R. Young
Boulder, Colo.
The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 17, 2010

A long line of storm chasers gets in the way of scientists studying severe weather. Photo: Carlye Calvin

There is a crowd under the funnel cloud.

Researchers wrapping up one of the largest-ever scientific field studies of tornadoes say that amateur storm chasers hindered their research and created dangerous traffic jams. Storm chasers, for their part, say that they have just as much right to observe storms as Ph.D.’s.

Hundreds of camera-toting amateurs in cars ended up chasing the same storms as a fleet of scientific vehicles during the high-profile research project, called Vortex2, which wrapped up data collection this week. At times the line of traffic caused the Midwestern roads to look like the freeways of Los Angeles, said Roger Wakimoto, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, during a briefing for reporters this week.

“I worry about this as a safety hazard,” Mr. Wakimoto said. “These people were blocking our escape routes because of the sheer number of cars.”

Researchers refer to their own fleet as an “armada,” and it was made up of about 40 vehicles, several of them carrying radar gear. The research goal is to understand how tornadoes form, to discover why some big storms generate deadly tornadoes and others don’t, and to improve forecasters’ ability to warn people of the severe weather events.

“It’s embarrassing to say, but we still do not understand what triggers tornado genesis,” Mr. Wakimoto said. “It’s got to be one of the most fundamental things we don’t understand today, but maybe we captured the data [during this study] to answer the question.”

At times amateur storm chasers kept the armada of science trucks from even getting to a budding tornado. One example was on May 19 in Oklahoma, when the number of storm chasers reached about 200 to 300 cars, according to Joshua Wurman, president of the Center for Severe Weather Research, in Boulder.

“The chasers basically made a rolling roadblock,” he said in a phone interview Thursday, while preparing to head out for his last day of data collection. He said that many of the amateur chasers were trying to roll along parallel to the storm to shoot video, but the researchers wanted to get ahead of the storm to set up their radar equipment. Mr. Wurman said that most of the chasers refused to move aside to let the research vehicles pass. While people have no legal obligation to yield to radar trucks, he said that he felt the amateurs should have given way as a courtesy.

“Just like you open the door for a guy with crutches—it’s not required by law, it’s just polite,” he said. “Nobody let us by, and I was really disappointed by that. It basically crippled our science mission that day.”

One veteran storm chaser pointed out on his blog, however, that some of the scientists involved in Vortex2 have been on major television programs that have led to an increase in amateur storm chasers. “Dr. Wurman’s research has benefited financially from his previous affiliation with the Discovery Channel program Storm Chasers—this program implicitly is encouraging viewers to engage in storm-chasing by glamorizing it,” wrote Chuck Doswell.”Dr. Wurman is a well-respected researcher, but he’s not Moses. Nor is he a first responder going about his duties—law enforcement officers are authorized to break laws in the performance of their jobs. I know of no researcher/storm chaser who has that particular blank check.”

Citizen Scientists?

Storm chasers argue that they offer a valuable service because some call in reports and observations to the National Weather Service.

“Storm chasers are out there to save lives—we’re out there to give warnings faster than the early warning systems,” said Aaron Estman, who has been chasing storms for a few years and runs a Web site called TexasChaser.com, in an interview.

But Mr. Wurman said that amateur storm chasers rarely offer useful information because, by the time they call in their reports, officials are already aware of the storms, thanks to radar equipment. And even the few storm chasers who equip their cars with scientific instruments do not properly calibrate their equipment to aid scientific literature, he said.

“They haven’t done the boring stuff—the tedious stuff of doing good science,” he said.

Some researchers say there is hope that storm chasers can become valuable citizen scientists, as has happened in other fields, such as astronomy.

“Right now there’s no coordination,” said Brian M. Argrow, a professor of aerospace engineering sciences and associate dean for education at the University of Colorado at Boulder. “That’s an important thing that Vortex2 brings to the table—a coordinated effort.”
The Next Step

This is the final year of the two-year Vortex2 project, which cost about $13-million and is supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and involves about 20 teams of scientists from universities and federal laboratories. The endeavor is a sequel to the original Vortex project, a similar effort in 1994 and 1995. (It became one of the inspirations for the Hollywood film “Twister,” which, like the television shows cited by bloggers, helped increase interest in storm-chasing.)

The scientists will now analyze the terabytes of data—the equivalent of thousands of filled hard drives from typical laptops—including images of the storms they observed. The first papers from the project are expected to be presented at a severe-weather conference in Boulder in October.

>Terrorists Versus Soccer

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Repressive governments and extremist insurgent groups have attempted to tamp down soccer obsession without success.

Adam Serwer | June 17, 2010
The American Prospect

Local children play soccer at the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction Team Forward Operating Base in Jalalabad, Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force/Joshua T. Jasper)

While millions of people all over the planet are tuning into the World Cup this month, Somali soccer fans in the areas controlled by the rival extremist insurgent groups al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam will have to do so in secret. That’s because both groups, locked in a brutal struggle with the internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government, have forbidden anyone from watching the games.

“They isolate and punish people for these types of activities, because in their twisted logic it takes you away from jihad as they see it, which is fighting the Transitional Federal Government,” says Areej Noor, a research assistant at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center.

The ban on the World Cup has been upheld with lethal force. On Tuesday, Hizbul Islam members killed two people and arrested ten others for watching the games. It’s not just watching soccer either — human rights advocates say that defying the insurgents by playing soccer, or any other game, local residents risk flogging, amputations, or summary executions. Nevertheless, in an extraordinary act of mass defiance, Somalis continue to huddle near radios and satellite televisions just to catch the beautiful game.

It’s not just soccer—the insurgents have sought to control all aspects of Somalis’ daily lives, forcing their hardline religious views on the populace. “What we’re seeing now with the soccer crackdown is happening every day, on multiple levels, in terms of the crackdown on activities, daily, routine mundane activities,” says Letta Tayler, a researcher with Human Rights Watch who authored a 2010 report on human rights abuses in Somalia.

Soccer has been a particular target for violent extremists. It’s not just al-Qaeda connected groups in Somalia that have targeted the sport. Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Algeria has threatened to disrupt the World Cup by launching an attack on the games being held in South Africa. During the 1990s in Afghanistan, the Taliban turned the UN constructed soccer stadium in Kabul into a giant execution chamber.

Other repressive governments have attempted to tamp down soccer obsession without success — as Franklin Foer recounts in his 2006 book, How Soccer Explains the World , the mullahs’ attempts to ban soccer failed, and the regime instead attempted to co-opt Iranian love for the sport by having regime loyalists attempt to lead religious chants in the stadiums. The Mullahs were eventually forced to rescind a ban on women watching soccer on television after they began dressing as men and sneaking into games.

Conservative blogger Ilya Somin recently criticized the sport for promoting “nationalist and ethnic violence,” but it’s actually because of those nationalistic feelings that violent religious extremists find the sport so threatening. International soccer interferes with the extremist vision of a fundamentalist society free of secular influences in a number of ways — most notably by cultivating a secular, national identity separate from the religious one. It showcases peaceful interaction not only between rival, even hostile nations, but between Muslims and non-Muslims, undermining the narrative of an inevitable clash of civilizations between Islam and the West. This isn’t to say that soccer is necessarily a liberalizing force — Mussolini’s Italy did win the last World Cup before World War II. But the world’s love for soccer offers a particularly difficult challenge for the pan-Islamist extremist ideology of groups like al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

“It’s a time and place where conflict is suspended,” says Noor. “When people in Afghanistan or Somalia get together and watch a game, how anti-Western are they being? [Soccer] cultivates a kind of affinity with the rest of the world that these people are not interested in Somalis having.”

Al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam’s crackdown on soccer — along with their general callousness and brutality — also represents the kind of cultural overreach that helps delegitimize extremist groups in the eyes of local residents. In May, hundreds of Mogadishu residents took to the streets to protest Al Shabaab’s desecration of the gravesites of Sufi Muslim clerics.

“When al-Qaeda in Iraq started to come apart was when they first started imposing their cultish interpretation of Islamic law on the Western tribes,” says Malcolm Nance, a former Navy Intelligence Officer who served in Iraq. AQI’s brutality and indiscriminate attacks on civilians damaged their reputation among ordinary Iraqis, and led to their being driven to near-destruction by the U.S. military who were now able to enlist — with generous sums of cash — the aid of the Sunni Tribes. Nance says the ban on soccer also highlights something else — the distance between traditional cultural practices and the relatively novel extremism of these groups, which he says “operate at the level of a cult.” “There is nothing in the Koran about games,” Nance says. “What we see as a simple innocent game, they see as a threat.”

The situation in Somalia is bleak however, and despite the self-defeating brutality of al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam, the two continue to control most of the country. The Transitional Federal Government, which controls the capital, Mogadishu, is losing the war despite having embraced some of the opposition’s most reprehensible practices, such as the recruitment of child soldiers. Victory for the insurgents could have drastic international consequences. Al Shabaab, which now controls more of Somalia than any other faction, emerged from the ashes of the Islamic Courts Union after the ICU was deposed by the Bush administration-supported Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2006. The group, originally a splinter faction of ICU hardliners, has recruited more than 20 American citizens to their cause. Al Shabaab has assassinated government ministers, and others have simply resigned in frustration over the lack of progress. It’s unclear whether the TFG can survive.

“The idea of global jihad has found a new bastion in Somalia, and it seems that will continue,” says Areej Noor. “I don’t know if there’s an end in sight for that.” At the moment, it’s hard to imagine a future for Somalia without the brutal, Taliban-style “justice” of the insurgents. Letta Tayler is concerned that once the World Cup is over, the international community will be all too ready to once again turn its eyes away from war-torn Somalia.

“It’s unfortunate that the world is only paying attention to it because it’s soccer and it’s now the World Cup. It’s unfortunate that the world is not paying attention to this when it’s a woman who is not allowed to sell cups of tea in the market because it will bring her into contact with men,” Tayler says. “It’s not just soccer, it’s every little detail of daily life.”

Guarani é oficializado como segunda língua em município do Mato Grosso do Sul

Culturas Indígenas

Heli Espíndola
Comunicação – Secretaria da Identidade e da Diversidade Cultural do Ministério da Cultura

O guarani é a segunda língua oficial do município de Tacuru, no Mato Grosso do Sul. O município é o segundo do país a adotar um idioma indígena como língua oficial, depois da sanção, pelo presidente da República, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, no dia 24 de maio, do Projeto de lei que oficializa a língua guarani em Tacuru. Com a nova lei, os serviços públicos básicos na área de saúde e as campanhas de prevenção de doenças neste município devem, a partir de agora, prestar informações em guarani e em português.

O primeiro município do Brasil a adotar idioma indígena como língua oficial, além do português, foi São Gabriel da Cachoeira, localizado no extremo norte do Amazonas. Além do português, São Gabriel tem três línguas indígenas oficiais: o Nheengatu, o Tukano e o Baniwa.

Em Tacuru, pequeno município no cone sul do estado do Mato Grosso do Sul, próximo ao Paraguai formado por uma população de 9.554 habitantes, segundo estimativa do IBGE de 2009, 30% de seus habitantes são guarani residentes na aldeia de Jaguapiré, situada no município. A maioria dos 3.245 indígenas de Tacuru não é bilíngue, ou seja, fala somente o Guarani o que dificulta o acesso aos serviços públicos mais essenciais.

Com a nova lei, a Prefeitura de Tacuru se compromete a apoiar e a incentivar o ensino da língua guarani nas escolas e nos meios de comunicação do município. A lei estabelece também que nenhuma pessoa poderá ser discriminada em razão da língua oficial falada, devendo ser respeitada e valorizada as variedades da língua guarani, como o kaiowá, o ñandeva e o mbya.

O Ministério Público Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul (MPF-MS) elogiou a aprovação da medida e argumentou que o Brasil é multiétnico e que o português não pode ser considerado a única língua utilizada no país. O MPF lembrou que o Brasil é signatário do Pacto Internacional dos Direitos Civis e Políticos, que determina que, nos Estados onde haja minorias étnicas ou linguísticas, pessoas pertencentes a esses grupos não poderão ser privadas de usar sua própria língua.

A Convenção nº 169 da Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT) sobre os Povos Indígenas e Tribais determina, dentre outras coisas, que deverão ser adotadas medidas para garantir que os membros das minorias étnicas possam compreender e se fazer compreender em procedimentos legais, facilitando para eles, se for necessário, intérpretes ou outros meios eficazes.

Em Paranhos, também no Mato Grosso do Sul, tramita um projeto de lei semelhante ao aprovado em Tacuru, que propõe a oficialização do idioma guarani como segunda língua do município. Em Paranhos existem 4.250 indígenas guarani. Em todo o estado do Mato Grosso do Sul são 68.824 indígenas, divididos em 75 aldeias.

Para o secretário da Identidade e Diversidade Cultural/MinC, Américo Córdula, a oficialização da língua guarani em mais um município brasileiro vai de encontro à política cultural desenvolvida pelo Ministério da Cultura de proteção e proteção dos saberes tradicionais dos povos indígenas.

No mês de fevereiro (de 2 a 5), a SID/MinC realizou, juntamente com a Itaipu Binacional, o Encontro dos Povos Guarani da América do Sul – Aty Guasu Ñande Reko Resakã Yvy Rupa que reuniu cerca de 800 índios da etnia do Brasil, Bolívia, Paraguai e Argentina, em Diamante D”Oeste, no Paraná, para discutir formas de fortalecer o intercâmbio cultural entre as comunidades dos quatro países.

“Temos no Brasil uma comunidade de aproximadamente um milhão de indígenas, formada por 270 povos diferentes, falantes de mais de 180 línguas”, informa Córdula. Segundo ele, a população indígena brasileira é detentora de uma grande diversidade cultural, que deve ser protegida por seu caráter formador da nacionalidade brasileira. Com esse objetivo, a SID/MinC já realizou dois prêmios culturais (2006 e 2007) voltados para as comunidades tradicionais indígenas. Foram investidos R$ 3,6 milhões para a premiação de 182 projetos em todo o Brasil.

Este ano, no mês de março, foi criado o primeiro Colegiado de Culturas Indígenas, formado por 15 titulares e 15 suplentes representantes do segmento. No último dia 1º, foi eleito o conselheiro do Colegiado para o Plenário do Conselho Nacional de Políticas Culturais (CNPC).

Maria das Dores do Prado, da etnia Pankararu, foi escolhida para defender, junto ao CNPC, as políticas públicas voltadas para a valorização da cultura de todas as comunidades indígenas brasileiras. Um das reivindicações defendidas pelo segmento durante a Conferência Nacional de Cultural, realizada em março, quando se deu a eleição do Colegiado, é a manutenção de todas as línguas nativas.

>A Monsanto e os transgênicos: uma história de horror (da Vanity Fair)

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Investigation

Monsanto’s Harvest of Fear

Monsanto already dominates America’s food chain with its genetically modified seeds. Now it has targeted milk production. Just as frightening as the corporation’s tactics–ruthless legal battles against small farmers–is its decades-long history of toxic contamination.

By Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele
Vanity Fair
May 2008

Go to the article:http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/05/monsanto200805

No thanks: An anti-Monsanto crop circle made by farmers and volunteers in the Philippines. By Melvyn Calderon/Greenpeace HO/A.P. Images.

>Embaixadas do torcedor: uma saída para banir a violência do futebol

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Vilma Homero
© FAPERJ – 08/06/2006

Policiamento menos agressivo, estádios mais seguros e projetos sociais junto às torcidas. Segundo o pesquisador Martin Christoph Curi Spörl, do Instituto Virtual do Esporte (IVE), medidas como essas podem ajudar a desencorajar atos de violência nos estádios e as manifestações de racismo, mais freqüentes nos campeonatos europeus, contribuindo para a paz no futebol. Assistente social, ele estará, durante esta Copa do Mundo na Alemanha, seu país natal, participando das embaixadas do torcedor e pronto para receber os brasileiros que viajarem para assistir aos jogos de perto.

Martin trabalha atualmente em dois projetos: Estigmatização dos torcedores de futebol no Rio de Janeiro e Embaixada do torcedor durante a Copa do Mundo, ambos do IVE. Um é conseqüência direta do outro. Neles, o pesquisador propõe uma alternativa oposta ao que imprensa e opinião pública vêm pedindo. “Na atual discussão, a mídia brasileira sugere ações rigorosas de repressão, maior controle e punição dos envolvidos. E a solução, ao menos para uma expressiva parcela da opinião pública, parece ser a exclusão das torcidas, sempre vistas como as únicas culpadas pela violência. Entretanto, isso é apenas um lado do problema, um só olhar sobre uma possível solução”, diz.

Para o pesquisador, há outros caminhos para abordar o assunto. “Se os torcedores são estigmatizados como violentos e tratados como criminosos, isso acaba deflagrando um comportamento violento. O estigma é um preconceito e não a verdade. Num estádio lotado com 50.000 pessoas, pode ser que existam alguns poucos criminosos e torcedores agressivos. Mas em qualquer grupo desse tamanho na sociedade podemos encontrar igual percentual de desordeiros”, explica.

Junto com o estigma, vêm as desvantagens, como o tratamento agressivo reservado pela polícia, as matérias depreciativas nos jornais e as grades nos estádios, que mais lembram jaulas e são um risco para o público, que na possibilidade de um conflito pode ficar imprensado contra elas. Martin vai ainda mais longe ao explicar que “ao solidificar-se o preconceito, muitas vezes pode-se provocar um fenômeno psicológico chamado self-fulfilling prophecy. O que leva pessoas que não seriam necessariamente violentas a partir para a agressão quando são tratadas de forma preconceituosa pela polícia e seguranças de um estádio”.

Estigmatizado, o grupo pode criar sua própria subcultura, com valores diferentes do restante da sociedade. “Esta subcultura dá aos indivíduos auto-estima para seguir suas normas, que podem aceitar o uso de violência. A exclusão é contraprodutiva”, diz. Ele frisa que, principalmente para os jovens de classes sociais mais baixas, o sentimento de identidade com os demais torcedores é, muitas vezes, mais importante do que o próprio jogo.

Para Martin, alternativas de inclusão social podem ser um meio de evitar essa agressividade. “Podem ser o vínculo necessário ao diálogo e à construção de formas de participação social mais conscientes. É preciso criar programas voltados para as torcidas, que resgatem sua cidadania, transmitam aos jovens o conhecimento das regras em vigor, e que essas regras também os protegem em nossa sociedade”, diz.

Segundo o pesquisador, esse é um trabalho de longo prazo, que presume criar ligações com as torcidas organizadas, sempre apoiando o comportamento desejado, como a criatividade, seus bandeirões, músicas e coreografias. A experiência vem dando certo em países como a Alemanha. Antes mesmo dos preparativos para a Copa, o país conseguiu reduzir conflitos entre as torcidas locais e ampliar a média de público, hoje em cerca de 40 mil, mesmo em jogos menos importantes ou em estádios de cidades menores. “Esse número é maior do que a média brasileira, que na maioria das partidas fica em 12, 13 mil pessoas”, garante o pesquisador.

Resultados que Martin atribui a projetos de apoio cultural, assistência social e jurídica aos torcedores, conseguindo-lhes material e espaço para a pintura de bandeiras, ou advogado para assisti-los em casos de pequenas infrações. E também a mudanças mais substanciais, a começar pela segurança dos estádios. “Isso inclui um transporte público eficiente e medidas como um número suficiente de saídas de emergência, eliminação das grades ou, se isso não for possível, que elas tenham portas de fuga que permitam a passagem de torcedores em caso de necessidade”, diz.

Martin também sugere a divisão das arquibancadas em vários setores menores e a volta de áreas de ingresso mais barato, com lugar para se ficar em pé. Ou seja, a velha “geral”, eliminada na reforma do Maracanã. “Sem ela, os ingressos encarecem, o que acaba excluindo os torcedores mais pobres. Além disso, nas torcidas, música e dança fazem parte do espetáculo do futebol. E não se dança sentado”, explica.

No Rio, como no resto do país, o pesquisador acredita que a resistência da opinião pública é ainda muito forte. “A mentalidade é a de reagir a tudo com repressão; o pensamento da sociedade é punitivo. Mudar para a prevenção e projetos que envolvam os torcedores ainda é difícil, principalmente quando há tantos problemas graves no país”, reconhece. Para ele, a comissão Paz no Esporte, do Ministério do Esporte, é uma iniciativa que pode ser um começo para se pensar alternativas. “Um representante do ministério que esteve na Inglaterra e viu de perto esse projeto visivelmente mudou seu discurso”, anima-se.

E se localmente a idéia é a de inclusão, ao se pensar em eventos mais amplos, como uma Copa do Mundo, o raciocínio não é diferente. Mudam apenas as medidas. Nesta Copa, por exemplo, a Alemanha recebe as torcidas estrangeiras com as “embaixadas de torcedores”. “Essas embaixadas ajudam as torcidas, procurando atender suas necessidades, em seu próprio idioma”, explica.

Organizadas pela FSI – Football Supporters International, rede internacional de Projetos para Torcedores Nacionais, elas contam com equipes fixas (organizadas pelo país que promove o evento) e móveis (organizadas por cada um dos países participantes), preparadas para ajudar os torcedores a se sentirem bem-vindos e a acompanhá-los, dando-lhes suporte num país estranho. A ajuda inclui desde guias informativos a um serviço de apoio telefônico 24h. Além das embaixadas, iniciativas como a instalação de telões gigantes em grandes espaços ao ar livre, para que os que não conseguiram ingresso possam assistir aos jogos, e a programação de atrações em torno desses telões contribuem para criar um clima festivo e desestimulam conflitos.

“Na Eurocopa de 2004, em Portugal, por exemplo, tivemos os melhores resultados. A polícia portuguesa comportou-se exemplarmente, tal como foi sugerido pelo projeto, com uniformes menos agressivos e agindo de forma não acintosa. Em caso de incidente, entrariam os policiais comuns. Mas não houve nenhum conflito ligado ao futebol. Pelo contrário, houve até peladas de rua, em campos infláveis, disputadas amigavelmente por torcidas de diferentes países”, entusiasma-se Martin.

Desde as primeiras embaixadas, em 1990, organizadas na Copa da Itália, como forma de prevenir os episódios violentos que haviam marcado campeonatos anteriores, a experiência foi repetida e ampliada nas Copas seguintes, adotada por países como Holanda, Inglaterra, França e Suíça. Segundo Martin, até mesmo os ingleses, tristemente famosos pela fúria dos hooligans, andam “bem-comportados” nos estádios.

“Muitos usam cabeça raspada, são enormes, bebem quantidades industriais de cerveja e parecem assustadores quando cantam ´there are 10 german bombs in the air´. Mas se os policiais forem preparados para não aceitar provocações e houver cerveja suficiente, eles apenas bebem até cair. Foi assim na última Eurocopa. O problema é acabar a cerveja…” Segundo Martin, os alemães bebem tanto quanto os ingleses, mas também costumam querer conhecer o país onde estão. E a ajuda das embaixadas é sempre útil para isso.

Nesta Copa do Mundo, o Brasil não contará com sua própria embaixada, mas o próprio Martin fará parte das equipes fixas nas cidades onde o Brasil jogará. Em Berlim, na Ku´dammen; em Munique, na Marienplatz; e em Dortmund, na Friedenplatz.

>O poder jovem nas torcidas organizadas de futebol

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Vinicius Zepeda
© FAPERJ – 18/06/2010

Em época de Copa do Mundo, as rivalidades ficam de lado e os torcedores se unem pela vitória da Seleção.Fonte: ayrton.com/360/archives.

Até meados de julho, flamenguistas, tricolores, botafoguenses e vascaínos deixam as diferenças de lado e se unem para torcer pela pátria de chuteiras durante a Copa do Mundo, na África do Sul. Como eles, torcedores de todos os times do País se unem numa só torcida. No resto do planeta, todos os corações vibram e lutam numa batalha em que fuzis e confrontos são substituídos pela bola, a trave, os esquemas táticos 3-5-2, 4-4-2, 4-3-3, 4-5-1, entre outros,além das partidas entre adversários pelo título mundial de futebol. Já o que assistimos fora da Copa do Mundo é um espetáculo de torcidas rivais, que conjuga ao mesmo tempo a beleza das torcidas, entoando hinos e canções de provocação aos rivais, erguendo faixas e fazendo coreografias com a violência e a intolerância com o diferente, que por vezes pode gerar até mesmo mortes. Afinal, as torcidas nada mais são que um microcosmo da sociedade, para o bem e para o mal. Esta é a tese defendida pelo historiador, professor e pesquisador da Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) Bernardo Borges Buarque de Hollanda, que acaba de publicar, com apoio do programa Auxílio à Editoração (APQ 3) da FAPERJ, o livro O Clube como vontade e representação – O jornalismo esportivo e a formação das torcidas organizadas de futebol no Rio de Janeiro.

“Flamengo, Flamengo/Tua glória é lutar/Flamengo, Flamengo/Campeão de terra e mar.” O verso, adaptado do hino oficial do clube, foi cantado ininterruptamente por quase cinquenta anos durante a entrada do time em campo pela Charanga – primeira torcida organizada do Flamengo e do Rio de Janeiro – liderada pelo baiano Jaime de Carvalho e que, de uns anos para cá, retomou aos estádios nacionais. “O baiano trouxe para as arquibancadas instrumentos rítmicos e de sopro, os metais, além de confetes e serpentina típicos do carnaval”, explica o pesquisador. O fenômeno foi incentivado pelo jornalista Mário Filho (1916/1976), que criou um concurso de torcidas que tocavam marchinhas. Dono do Jornal dos Sports, ele estimulou, no final dos anos 1930, a criação da identidade do futebol como espetáculo das massas populares. “Até aquela década, os jornais mal falavam sobre esportes e as poucas notícias que apareciam se referiam a corridas de cavalos e regatas”, ensina.

O baiano Jaime de Carvalho no meio da Charanga, a primeira torcida organizada do Rio de Janeiro. Fonte: http://www.flamengoeternamente.blogspot.com.

O livro de Bernardo Buarque é essencialmente o resumo da tese de doutorado em História Social da Cultura, no Departamento de História, da Pontifícia Universidade Católica (PUC-Rio), defendida ano passado. O estudo teve como fonte de pesquisa os arquivos do Jornal dos Sports, mais especificamente as matérias e fotos não publicadas, além de entrevistas com chefes de torcidas. O pesquisador da FGV acrescenta que, quando o jornalista Mário Filho comprou o Jornal dos Sports, começou também a publicar crônicas esportivas, fotos e entrevistas com jogadores de futebol. “Isso ajudou a transformar a imagem do futebol, até então aristocrático, em esporte de massas”, complementa.

Torcidas jovens criam o hedonismo no futebol

Em 1967, como dissidência à Charanga, do Flamengo, surge a primeira torcida jovem do estado do Rio de Janeiro: a Poder Jovem, que dois anos depois se transforma na Torcida Jovem Fla (TJF). No contexto da época, a TJF surge influenciada pela rebeldia da juventude da época e com proposta bem diferente da que vigorava na torcida criada pelo baiano Jaime de Carvalho. “Enquanto o baiano não admitia vaias ou hostilidade aos jogadores, a nova geração de torcedores, capitaneada pela Jovem Fla, queria protestar e criticar a atuação da equipe nos estádios”, explica Bernardo Buarque. Em 1971, surge o primeiro Campeonato Brasileiro de Futebol nos moldes do que temos hoje, em que o Atlético Mineiro sagrou-se campeão. As torcidas jovens que começam a comparecer aos estádios se tornam também torcidas organizadas devido à infraestrutura que criam para assistir aos jogos de seus times. É quando começa a aparecer o chamado hedonismo no futebol, que segundo o historiador caracteriza-se pela perda da identidade individual, diluída no prazer coletivo de viver para e pela torcida. “Isso acontece porque essas torcidas viraram verdadeiros grêmios recreativos, com sede própria independente do clube, taxa de inscrição e sócios, além de excursões para acompanhar os jogos em outros estados”, acrescenta.

Já nos anos 1970, acompanhando o contexto político do País e do mundo, as torcidas passam a protestar também contra a ditadura militar. “Não foi à toa que a primeira faixa a favor da anistia dos presos políticos no Brasil foi aberta num jogo do Corinthians, pela Gaviões da Fiel”, explica Bernardo. A democratização, no fim dos anos 1980, é acompanhada por uma grande decepção com o novo governo, inflação galopante, delinqüência juvenil e escalada da violência com o tráfico de drogas e o surgimento do crime organizado, com o Comando Vermelho no Rio de Janeiro. As torcidas então começam a se tornar violentas, seus seguidores passam a ser tachados de vândalos, numa espécie de reflexo da juventude perdida, a geração Coca Cola cantada na música de Renato Russo (1960/1996).

“Vale destacar que o grosso dessas torcidas é de jovens entre 14 e 25 anos, suscetíveis à necessidade de autoafirmação diante do grupo”, afirma. Ele acrescenta que, segundo teoria com origem no século XIX, elaborada por Gustave Le Bon, o jovem, que geralmente se considera fraco sozinho, em bando se acha invencível. “Assim, a torcida passa a ter vida própria e os jovens se tornam apenas peças da engrenagem. O estádio passa a ser o local das transgressões, o futebol funciona como catarse coletiva, em que palavrões e xingamentos nada mais são do que expressão dos preconceitos arraigados da sociedade”, diz Bernardo.

Enquanto o jogo acontece em campo, a provocação entre as torcidas toma conta das arquibancadas. Fonte: Torcida Youg Flu.

O historiador lamenta a escalada da violência nos estádios, que, em 1988, contabilizou a primeira morte de líder de torcida, Cleo, da Mancha Verde, do Palmeiras. Nesse contexto, ele explica que o ciclo de rivalidades perde a noção originária do futebol – sublimar a violência das armas com a leitura tática do jogo ganho com gols e o confronto pacífico de times em busca do gol – e passa a ser um espaço de guerra no sentido literal do termo. Como as torcidas crescem e se multiplicam, elas passam a reproduzir conflitos até entre seus integrantes, copiando a estrutura típica das facções criminosas. Com o aumento do preço dos ingressos nos estádios, muitas vezes os torcedores nem chegam a entrar para assistir aos jogos, ficando do lado de fora para provocar brigas entre seus próprios membros ou com torcedores de outro time. Seus símbolos passam a ser bélicos: canhão (Raça Rubro-Negra), cão buldogue (Fúria Jovem do Botafogo), Eddie – caveira símbolo da banda de heavy metal Iron Maiden (Força Jovem do Vasco), o vilão dos quadrinhos Duende Verde (Torcida Young Flu). Com a escalada de violência nos estádios, de fins dos anos 1980, várias iniciativas vêm sendo tomadas, desde policiamento ostensivo nos arredores dos estádios à escolta das torcidas e campanhas na mídia pela paz no futebol. Os resultados, no entanto, ainda são tímidos e bastante aquém do esperado.

O projeto para a Copa de 2014 no Brasil e o futuro das torcidas

Em sentido horário, símbolos das torcidas jovens de Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo e Vasco. Reprodução.

Outro indicativo de como o futebol é um reflexo da sociedade é o poder político que líderes de torcida passaram a ter na eleição de dirigentes dos clubes. “O maior exemplo disso no futebol carioca pode ser personificado pelo ex-presidente do Vasco, Eurico Miranda, que chegava a distribuir até cinco mil ingressos em dia de jogo para os líderes de torcida”, lembra Bernardo. Ainda que caminhando a passos lentos em todo o País, a profissionalização do futebol parece ter ganho força, a partir dos anos 1980, com a transmissão cada vez mais freqüente dos jogos pela televisão, com a perda do de amor à camisa, com os jogadores transformados em mercadoria. “Há mais de vinte anos que os clubes operam deficitariamente, e seu lucro não vem mais da venda de ingressos para o público que comparece aos estádios, mas dos contratos para transmissão dos jogos pela TV e das transações com jogadores”, explica.

O novo modelo de adequação dos estádios às normas da Federação Internacional de Futebol (Fifa) e que vem sendo adotado pelo Brasil prevê não apenas a redução do número de assentos, como o aumento do preço dos ingressos. “Acredito que o futebol continuará a ser o esporte mais popular do País por conta da televisão, mas o alto preço dos ingressos e a extinção da antiga geral no Maracanã tende a tornar o público cada vez mais elitista. O povão vai se contentar em ver o jogo pela televisão”, explica o historiador.

Nesse contexto, Bernardo Buarque destaca o surgimento, em 2006, da chamada “antitorcida organizada”, assim denominada por suas características, contrárias às tradicionais torcidas jovens. “Formadas em geral por jovens de classe média, elas não cantam palavrões, não têm símbolos próprios e, como as charangas, não vaiam. Ao contrário, apoiam incondicionalmente o time. São elas a Urubuzada (Flamengo), Legião Tricolor (Fluminense), Loucos pelo Botafogo e Guerreiros do Almirante (Vasco)”, conclui.

>A controvérsia ao redor da construção de uma mesquita nas proximidades do Marco Zero, em Nova York

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A obra da discórdia

Por Daniel Barros
Olhar Virtual – Coordenadoria de Comunicação Social da UFRJ
Coluna Ponto de Vista

Ilustração: Caio Monteiro

A construção de um centro comunitário islâmico de 15 andares a duas quadras do Marco Zero, monumento construído no local dos atentados de 11 de setembro de 2001, divide opiniões na mais cosmopolita cidade do Ocidente. O antropólogo da UFRJ, Renzo Taddei, que morava em Nova Iorque quando ocorreram os atentados, explica que a obra — aprovada pelo Conselho Municipal da cidade no dia 25 de maio — pode sinalizar uma importante transformação na sociedade americana se a cidade conseguir trabalhar bem a questão da construção desse enorme templo mulçumano. Mas uma manifestação contrária, no dia 6 de junho, que contou com cerca de 5 mil participantes mostra que esse trabalho não será fácil.

Apesar das demonstrações de insatisfação de alguns novaiorquinos, o projeto conta com o apoio do prefeito da cidade, Michael Bloomberg e foi aprovado por 29 votos a um (10 abstenções) no conselho. Taddei explica que o respaldo governamental é inevitável, devido ao apreço que a sociedade americana tem pelas idéias de liberdade religiosa e de que não deve haver interferência pública no espaço privado – e, nesse caso, os interessados em erguer a mesquita são os proprietários legais do edifício onde ela deve ser instalada. Já o fato de os parentes e amigos das vítimasse sentirem ofendidos com a construção da mesquita tem, de acordo com o antropólogo, uma explicação bem mais complexa.

Renzo Taddei, que lecionava em 2001 no Borough of Manhattan Community College, também a duas quadras do World Trade Center, explica que a resistência ao projeto da mesquita, para alguns americanos, passa por duas questões fundamentais: como os eventos de 11 de setembro afetaram a forma como a população da cidade se relaciona com aquele espaço urbano? E como os americanos, na era Bush, passam a se relacionar com o islamismo?

Transformação do espaço em Nova Iorque

Para explicar a transformação no espaço, Taddei recorre ao antropólogo brasileiro Roberto DaMatta. Em seu livro “A Casa e a Rua”, DaMatta diz que a “casa” é o lugar onde estão concentradas as relações de afeto familiares – família e casa aqui usadas em sentido amplo -, e “rua” é o ambiente dos trânsitos, fluxos e, de certo modo, da impessoalidade. E ele ainda menciona a existência do “outro mundo”, que remete à morte e à religiosidade. Na “rua” as pessoas seriam mais liberais. Já a afetividade relacionada a “casa” gera posições mais conservadoras. De certa forma, a idéia de que Nova York é uma cidade cosmopolita, centro econômico mundial, gera a percepção de que Nova Iorque seria apenas “rua”. É como se não existissem razões para as pessoas manifestarem sentimentos conservadores típicos do espaço doméstico. Mas as sociedades têm sempre os dois lados, e o debate em torno da mesquita evidencia isso.

Nesse contexto surge o Ground Zero, como chamam os americanos o espaço onde ocorreram os atentados em 11 de setembro, em Nova Iorque. Taddei afirma que esse é o lugar de um massacre onde muitos corpos jamais foram encontrados, o que, simbolicamente, o transforma em um cemitério a céu aberto, especialmente para as famílias dos mortos. Ele lembra que o governo dos Estados Unidos investiu dinheiro e tempo buscando minuciosamente corpos, ou mesmo pedaços minúsculos de corpos, nessa região.

Para o antropólogo e professor da Escola de Comunicação (ECO) da UFRJ, as sociedades ocidentais têm dificuldade em lidar com o fim da existência. A morte evidencia os limites do pensamento racional. Os rituais de passagem, como velórios e missas de sétimo dia para as comunidades católicas, por exemplo, são fundamentais para organizar o pensamento e as emoções dos que continuam vivos. Mas como muitas famílias não conseguiram achar os corpos dos seus mortos, o Marco Zero adquiriu um enorme valor sentimental. A separação entre “casa” e “rua”, que segundo DaMatta organiza nossa percepção do espaço, e portanto nossa vida social, deixa de existir para muitas das famílias envolvidas. “A proposta de construção da mesquita ocorre, desta forma, num contexto de enorme confusão simbólica, o que naturalmente gera muita ansiedade”, explica Taddei.

Relação dos americanos com o islamismo

O outro aspecto relevante na questão da resistência à construção do centro comunitário muçulmano, que se chamará Córdoba House, é o significado que o islamismo assume ao longo do governo George W. Bush. “Bush quis dividir o mundo em categorias estanques, como, por exemplo, quando usa a expressão ‘eixo do mal’”, diz o antropólogo. Taddei menciona que houve um silencio estratégico, por parte da Casa Branca, a respeito dos negócios da família Bush na Arábia Saudita, inclusive com a família Bin Laden. Tal engajamento comercial no mundo islâmico denota a compreensão de Bush de que “muçulmano não é tudo igual”. No entanto, explica Taddei, o esforço de preparar o país para a guerra (invasão do Afeganistão e posteriormente do Iraque) passou pela demonização e desumanização do inimigo, e isso pode ter gerado percepções coletivas do mundo islâmico muito negativas junto à população americana. O fato de Bush se declarar renascido na fé (encontrou a fé protestante depois de adulto) e dizer que se comunicava com Deus nos corredores da Casa Branca só reforçou as polarizações radicais na percepção das relações entre religião e política.

Além disso, mais do que uma questão meramente diplomática, o então presidente dos Estados Unidos conclamou o país à guerra e adotou um discurso que ressaltava a necessidade dos americanos serem fortes e patriotas, o que os levou a negligenciarem emoções traumáticas, advindas da experiência dos ataques de 11 de setembro. Renzo Taddei conta que a mídia americana embarcou nesse esquema, aceitando, por exemplo, o pedido do Pentágono para que não fossem mostrados caixões de soldados americanos vindos do Afeganistão e do Iraque. E, além disso, os principais veículos de comunicação não deram o espaço devido para que os vários líderes muçulmanos americanos pudessem participar de forma efetiva dos debates públicos, oferecendo discursos de contraposição às polarizações simplistas e à associação direta dos ataques às torres ao islamismo.

Se no contexto do Bush as pessoas não puderam manifestas suas fraquezas e sentimentos, estes acabam ressurgindo em outro momento. “Uma das características do ritual da morte [é] a necessidade de se viver o processo do luto”, esclarece Taddei. Ele explica que Bush interrompe esse processo para muita gente e, hoje, com a proposta de construção da mesquita a duas quadras do Marco Zero, algumas pessoas estão botando para fora essas emoções.

Conquista islâmica

Na opinião do antropólogo, o que se configurará na região é um conflito necessário. Nas audiências do Conselho Municipal, vários manifestantes chegaram a dizer que os muçulmanos podem enxergar a construção da mesquita de 15 andares perto do Marco Zero como uma vitória do islã, algo como “atacamos e conquistamos”. “É claro que isso é uma visão muito conservadora e tendenciosa, e mostra que, em termos simbólicos, o desafio é enorme”, diz Taddei.

Ele destaca, no entanto, que não se pode desconsiderar de forma arrogante o sentimento das pessoas que se posicionam contra a construção. Para o professor, é preciso ouvir os dois lados, sem correções políticas nem moralismos, e efetivamente pluralizar o debate. “A construção da mesquita é de fato uma boa idéia, no sentido de desenterrar esses sentimentos. Ela pode marcar uma nova fase na história americana, da desmontagem desses estereótipos, uma das heranças perversas da era Bush, e da reconstrução de uma esfera pública efetivamente aberta e plural. Mas esses sentimentos precisam ser devidamente trabalhados, para que essa situação não se transforme em mais um barril de pólvora”, prevê o antropólogo.

>Guarani é oficializado como segunda língua em município do Mato Grosso do Sul

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Culturas Indígenas

Heli Espíndola
Comunicação – Secretaria da Identidade e da Diversidade Cultural do Ministério da Cultura

O guarani é a segunda língua oficial do município de Tacuru, no Mato Grosso do Sul. O município é o segundo do país a adotar um idioma indígena como língua oficial, depois da sanção, pelo presidente da República, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, no dia 24 de maio, do Projeto de lei que oficializa a língua guarani em Tacuru. Com a nova lei, os serviços públicos básicos na área de saúde e as campanhas de prevenção de doenças neste município devem, a partir de agora, prestar informações em guarani e em português.

O primeiro município do Brasil a adotar idioma indígena como língua oficial, além do português, foi São Gabriel da Cachoeira, localizado no extremo norte do Amazonas. Além do português, São Gabriel tem três línguas indígenas oficiais: o Nheengatu, o Tukano e o Baniwa.

Em Tacuru, pequeno município no cone sul do estado do Mato Grosso do Sul, próximo ao Paraguai formado por uma população de 9.554 habitantes, segundo estimativa do IBGE de 2009, 30% de seus habitantes são guarani residentes na aldeia de Jaguapiré, situada no município. A maioria dos 3.245 indígenas de Tacuru não é bilíngue, ou seja, fala somente o Guarani o que dificulta o acesso aos serviços públicos mais essenciais.

Com a nova lei, a Prefeitura de Tacuru se compromete a apoiar e a incentivar o ensino da língua guarani nas escolas e nos meios de comunicação do município. A lei estabelece também que nenhuma pessoa poderá ser discriminada em razão da língua oficial falada, devendo ser respeitada e valorizada as variedades da língua guarani, como o kaiowá, o ñandeva e o mbya.

O Ministério Público Federal do Mato Grosso do Sul (MPF-MS) elogiou a aprovação da medida e argumentou que o Brasil é multiétnico e que o português não pode ser considerado a única língua utilizada no país. O MPF lembrou que o Brasil é signatário do Pacto Internacional dos Direitos Civis e Políticos, que determina que, nos Estados onde haja minorias étnicas ou linguísticas, pessoas pertencentes a esses grupos não poderão ser privadas de usar sua própria língua.

A Convenção nº 169 da Organização Internacional do Trabalho (OIT) sobre os Povos Indígenas e Tribais determina, dentre outras coisas, que deverão ser adotadas medidas para garantir que os membros das minorias étnicas possam compreender e se fazer compreender em procedimentos legais, facilitando para eles, se for necessário, intérpretes ou outros meios eficazes.

Em Paranhos, também no Mato Grosso do Sul, tramita um projeto de lei semelhante ao aprovado em Tacuru, que propõe a oficialização do idioma guarani como segunda língua do município. Em Paranhos existem 4.250 indígenas guarani. Em todo o estado do Mato Grosso do Sul são 68.824 indígenas, divididos em 75 aldeias.

Para o secretário da Identidade e Diversidade Cultural/MinC, Américo Córdula, a oficialização da língua guarani em mais um município brasileiro vai de encontro à política cultural desenvolvida pelo Ministério da Cultura de proteção e proteção dos saberes tradicionais dos povos indígenas.

No mês de fevereiro (de 2 a 5), a SID/MinC realizou, juntamente com a Itaipu Binacional, o Encontro dos Povos Guarani da América do Sul – Aty Guasu Ñande Reko Resakã Yvy Rupa que reuniu cerca de 800 índios da etnia do Brasil, Bolívia, Paraguai e Argentina, em Diamante D”Oeste, no Paraná, para discutir formas de fortalecer o intercâmbio cultural entre as comunidades dos quatro países.

“Temos no Brasil uma comunidade de aproximadamente um milhão de indígenas, formada por 270 povos diferentes, falantes de mais de 180 línguas”, informa Córdula. Segundo ele, a população indígena brasileira é detentora de uma grande diversidade cultural, que deve ser protegida por seu caráter formador da nacionalidade brasileira. Com esse objetivo, a SID/MinC já realizou dois prêmios culturais (2006 e 2007) voltados para as comunidades tradicionais indígenas. Foram investidos R$ 3,6 milhões para a premiação de 182 projetos em todo o Brasil.

Este ano, no mês de março, foi criado o primeiro Colegiado de Culturas Indígenas, formado por 15 titulares e 15 suplentes representantes do segmento. No último dia 1º, foi eleito o conselheiro do Colegiado para o Plenário do Conselho Nacional de Políticas Culturais (CNPC).

Maria das Dores do Prado, da etnia Pankararu, foi escolhida para defender, junto ao CNPC, as políticas públicas voltadas para a valorização da cultura de todas as comunidades indígenas brasileiras. Um das reivindicações defendidas pelo segmento durante a Conferência Nacional de Cultural, realizada em março, quando se deu a eleição do Colegiado, é a manutenção de todas as línguas nativas.

>Toxoplasmosis and psychology (The Economist)

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A game of cat and mouse
There is tantalising evidence that a common parasite may affect human behaviour

The Economist Newspaper | Science and Technology
Jun 3rd 2010

IF AN alien bug invaded the brains of half the population, hijacked their neurochemistry, altered the way they acted and drove some of them crazy, then you might expect a few excitable headlines to appear in the press. Yet something disturbingly like this may actually be happening without the world noticing.

Toxoplasma gondii is not an alien; it is a relative of that down-to-earth pathogen Plasmodium, the beast that causes malaria. It is common: in some parts of the world as much as 60% of the population is infected with it. And it can harm fetuses and people with AIDS, because in each case their immune systems cannot cope with it. For other people, though, the symptoms are usually no worse than a mild dose of flu. Not much for them to worry about, then. Except that there is a growing body of evidence that some of those people have their behaviour permanently changed.

One reason to suspect this is that a country’s level of Toxoplasma infection seems to be related to the level of neuroticism displayed by its population. Another is that those infected seem to have poor reaction times and are more likely to be involved in road accidents. A third is that they have short attention spans and little interest in seeking out novelty. A fourth, possibly the most worrying, is that those who suffer from schizophrenia are more likely than those who do not to have been exposed to Toxoplasma.

Nor is any of this truly surprising. For, besides humans, Toxoplasma has two normal hosts: rodents and cats. And what it does to rodents is very odd indeed.

Fatal feline attraction

Joanne Webster of Imperial College, London, has been studying Toxoplasma for years. Like Plasmodium, which cycles between mosquitoes and man, Toxoplasma cycles between its rodent and feline hosts, living out different phases of its existence in each. In cats, it resides in the wall of the small intestine and passes out of the host in its faeces. These are then picked up by rats and mice (and also by other mammal species, including humans), where they form cysts in brain, liver and muscle tissue. Eventually, if the parasites are lucky, their rodent host is eaten by a cat and the whole cycle starts again.

Unlike Plasmodium, however, which can rely on the natural behaviour of mosquitoes to spread it around, Toxoplasma’s rodent hosts have a strong aversion to helping it into its next home. Which is where, in Dr Webster’s elegant phrase, fatal feline attraction comes in. Rats and mice infected with Toxoplasma start wandering around and drawing attention to themselves—in other words, behaving in ways that will bring them to the attention of cats. They are even, Dr Webster’s work suggests, attracted to the smell of cats.

How these behavioural changes come about was, until recently, obscure. But in 2009 Glenn McConkey of the University of Leeds, in England, analysed Toxoplasma’s DNA. When he compared the results with those of other species, he discovered that two of the bug’s genes encode enzymes involved in the production of a molecule called dopamine. This molecule acts, in animals that have nervous systems, as a chemical messenger between nerve cells. It does not, however, have any known function in single-celled critters. Moreover, dopamine is particularly implicated in schizophrenia. Haloperidol, an antipsychotic drug, works by blocking dopamine receptors.

Intriguingly, Dr Webster has found that haloperidol serves to reverse fatal feline attraction in rats. This suggests the parasite is indeed interfering with the brain’s dopamine system—and thus that it might be doing the same thing in people. Dr McConkey is now making a version of Toxoplasma with the dopamine genes excised, to see if rats infected with this modified bug are protected from the fatal attraction.

Culture club

The evidence that human toxoplasmosis does more than appears at first sight is, it must be said, quite scattered. But it is intriguing and probably worth following up.

The connection with schizophrenia was originally suggested in the 1950s, but only really took off in 2003, when it was revived by Fuller Torrey of the Stanley Medical Research Institute, near Washington, DC. In collaboration with Bob Yolken of Johns Hopkins University, Dr Fuller discovered that people who suffer from schizophrenia are almost three times more likely than the general population to have antibodies to Toxoplasma.

That does not, of course, prove Toxoplasma causes schizophrenia. As every science student is taught from the beginning, correlation is not causation. It could be that schizophrenics are more susceptible to the infection, or some third, as yet unidentified variable may be involved.

Another interesting correlation has, though, been discovered by Jaroslav Flegr of Charles University in Prague. Dr Flegr has studied several aspects of the Toxoplasma question. In one case he looked at the infection rate of people involved in road accidents. Both drivers and pedestrians who had been in accidents were almost three times more likely to be infected than comparable individuals who had not been. Similar results have been found in Turkey, by Kor Yereli of Celal Bayar University, in Manisa. And Dr Flegr has found other abnormalities in infected people. These included reduced reaction times and shorter attention spans—both of which might help to explain the accident statistics—and a reduction in “novelty-seeking”.

This latter is curious. The sort of behaviour shown by rodents is, if anything, an increase in novelty-seeking. But the point is that novelty-seeking is controlled by nerve cells that respond to dopamine. Humans are dead-end hosts as far as Toxoplasma is concerned, so the exact effect will not have been honed by natural selection and may therefore be different from the one in animals that are actually useful to the parasite.

All of these suggested effects are obviously bad for the individuals involved, but some researchers go further and propose that entire societies are being altered by Toxoplasma. In 2006 Kevin Lafferty of the University of California, Santa Barbara, published a paper noting a correlation between levels of neuroticism established by national surveys in various countries and the level of Toxoplasma infection recorded in pregnant women (a group who are tested routinely). The places he looked at ranged from phlegmatic Britain, with a neuroticism score of -0.8 and a Toxoplasma infection rate of 6.6%, to hot-blooded France, which scored 1.8 and had an infection rate of 45%. Cross-Channel prejudices, then, may have an unexpected origin.

To repeat, correlation is not causation, and a lot more work would need to be done to prove the point. But it is just possible that a parasite’s desire to get eaten by a cat is shaping the cultures of the world.

>Incerteza, previsão e futebol, II

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Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski, em Why England Lose, desenvolvem um algoritmo de computador que prevê resultados de jogos de futebol. Para essa copa, o algoritmo prevê a vitória do Brasil. Veja a ilustração da simulação abaixo, e a reação inglesa, à época do lançamento do livro, mais abaixo.

By SectionDesign, in Information is Beautiful.
Why England Lose by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
Two authors bravely attempt to explain England’s footballing failure and, like the team, ultimately lose, says David Runciman
The Observer, Sunday 9 August 2009
Michael Lewis’s Moneyball (2003) is one of those rare books that changed the way an entire industry operates. It told the story of Billy Beane, general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball club, who turned a poorly resourced side into perennial winners by ditching the traditional tools of sports management – gut instinct, camaraderie, riding your luck – in favour of hardcore statistical analysis (known in baseball as sabermetrics).
steve mcclaren

Former England manager Steve McClaren speaks to the press after being sacked for failing for qualifying for Euro 2008. Photograph: Tom Jenkins

Once Lewis had explained how Oakland did it, their rivals started to follow suit and baseball teams began replacing gnarled old scouts with pointy-headed number-crunchers (which meant, among other things, that Moneyball cost Oakland its competitive advantage and the team is now back at the bottom of its league). Soon, other sports wanted in. The back offices of basketball, American football and ice hockey franchises are all filling up with maths graduates poring over spreadsheets of player performance looking for the secret of success.

At the same time, Moneyball changed the way publishers approached sports-writing. A good sports story needs plenty of human interest to sell and that has usually meant trying to see things from the players’ point of view. But Lewis revealed that the players often have no idea what they are doing and that sometimes only the numbers can tell the true story. Well before Freakonomics appeared on the scene, he showed how statistical analysis can provide all the human interest you need, just so long as you understand what the numbers are telling you.

Inevitably, these trends have crossed the Atlantic. For the past couple of years, the more progressive English football managers have been name-checking Moneyball and hinting at a statistical management revolution, though it’s not clear any of them has worked out what kind of statistics they are looking for. And now we have Why England Lose, a self-conscious attempt to write the Moneyball of football. If anyone can do it, it ought to be these two authors – Szymanski has recently published the best introduction to sports economics, Playbooks and Checkbooks, while Kuper is probably the smartest of the new generation of super-smart sportswriters. Unfortunately, their new book is a bit of a mess. It shows that doing a Moneyball is not as easy as it looks.

It doesn’t help that the weakest chapter is probably the first, in which the authors set out to answer the question that gives the book its title – why do England always lose at major tournaments? Given that it is one of the requirements of the genre that the numbers should tell us things we can’t see for ourselves, they have to pretend there is something utterly confounding about England’s failure. They quote tabloid expectations of England success before each World Cup as evidence that we go into every tournament expecting to win and are baffled when we don’t. But this is patronising as well as lazy; tabloid jingoism isn’t evidence of anything much except a desire to sell newspapers. Most England fans hope that England will win, but they hardly expect it, which is why it would be such a treat if it ever happened.

The real problem, though, is that Kuper and Szymanski can’t decide what it is they are trying to explain. On the one hand, they show that England’s record in all competitive matches, including qualifying tournaments, is actually slightly better than one might expect, given size and resources, meaning that on the whole England don’t lose. On the other hand, they argue that England’s record of failure at major tournaments can be put down to class and geography. English football remains a resolutely working-class sport, which means it is excluding middle-class talent, while England’s position on the fringes of Europe means we are not plugged in to the right networks for coaching and tactical innovation. So England are over-performing and underperforming at the same time.

But the truth is that England’s failure to win a World Cup since 1966 is really not that statistically significant. World Cups are eventually knock-out tournaments and knock-out competitions, especially since the introduction of penalty shoot-outs, depend a great deal on chance. Billy Beane never worried about Oakland’s failure to win the World Series (the knockout competition that rounds off the baseball season) because that was too often a matter of luck; it was only over the regular league season of 162 games that a small statistical advantage had the time to tell. Kuper and Szymanski admit as much (they even quote the relevant passage from Moneyball), so one finishes this chapter not with a sense that something curious has been explained by statistical analysis, but that the relevant statistical sample is simply too small to bear much explanation at all.

In their desire to ape an approach that was developed to analyse the highly distinctive sport of baseball, Kuper and Szymanski seem to lose sight of what is distinctive about football. They devote a chapter to explaining why the regular complaint that football has become too unequal (ie the rich clubs always win) is self-defeating, because inequality is part of football’s appeal. But though this is true, they miss the most obvious reason for it. Unlike baseball (indeed all other American sports), football is a low-scoring game that can end in a goalless draw. Every goal is an event, no matter how unequal the contest. Frankly, a Major League baseball game that ends 9-0 is a bit of a bore, but a Premier League game that finishes 9-0 lives on in the memory.

Equally, unlike baseball, football is not a sport that can easily be broken down into self-contained slices of action. It moves around the field in long, often chaotic sequences that, despite ProZone’s best efforts, are very hard to capture on statistical spreadsheets. The one part of the game that is clearly amenable to this sort of analysis is the penalty shoot-out and Kuper and Szymanski devote a chapter to it here. But it’s pretty elementary stuff and the conclusion – that the best penalty-takers don’t always shoot to their best side but randomise the sequence so as to keep the goalkeeper guessing – is hardly a tale of the unexpected. Serious sabermetrics really does look like rocket science in comparison.

There are still plenty of good things in this book. The best chapters are more conventional economics than freakonomics, explaining how and why money flows through the game, including an eye-popping account of how poorly the financial side of the sport is still managed by people with much more money than sense. There are also some fascinating stories, of which the most tantalising is a brief account of the rise of Olympique Lyonnais from relative obscurity to total dominance of French football, under their innovative owner, Jean-Michel Aulas. The success of Lyon and Aulas is probably the closest football has to the story of Oakland and Billy Beane, but Kuper and Szymanski are so keen to touch base with everything that they don’t give it the space it deserves.

It would also have been nice to hear more about the very few managers who seem to have found something in the numbers that everyone else is missing. The authors describe Arsène Wenger as one of the heroes of this book, but we learn almost nothing about him or his methods. No doubt access was a problem – managers such as Wenger are notoriously secretive. We also hear almost nothing about the most interesting man currently working in the football business, Jose Mourinho. Like Wenger, Mourinho has turned football management into a cross between an economics seminar and a personality cult. Neither man has won the Champions League with an English club, but then the Champions League becomes a knockout tournament in its later stages, so it doesn’t count. Instead, Mourinho is the possessor of one of the most remarkable statistical record in world sport – no team he has managed (Porto, Chelsea, Inter) has lost a league match at home since February 2002, a scarcely credible run of 117 matches. That is a truly curious football phenomenon that would be worth trying to explain, if only anyone could get close enough to find out how he does it. The Moneyball of football remains to be written.

>Juventude e violência: proximidade perigosa (FAPERJ)

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Por Vilma Homero – 10/06/2010

Atos violentos de jovens de classes populares costumam ter resposta mais dura da sociedade, como mostra o filme Justiça.

A crescente violência entre os jovens é um fenômeno tipicamente contemporâneo. Vivendo uma adolescência prolongada, sem reconhecimento da sociedade organizada em função de sua não inserção no mercado de trabalho, eles se entregam a várias formas de comportamento violento: provocam acidentes ao dirigir em alta velocidade, sem respeitar quem ou o que estiver pela frente, aderem ao tráfico de drogas, tornam-se membros de gangues, provocam brigas em boates. Diante disso, a sociedade brasileira tem encontrado apenas duas formas de lidar: pelo assistencialismo ou pela repressão. Para o pesquisador e psicanalista Joel Birman, é preciso pensar criticamente essa situação.

Para promover essa reflexão, ele coordena a rede de pesquisas Juventude, Subjetivação e Violência/ou EPOS, sediada no Instituto de Medicina Social, da Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (Uerj), em que, com apoio do edital Pensa Rio – Apoio ao Estudo de Temas Relevantes e Estratégicos Para o Estado do Rio de Janeiro, da FAPERJ, especialistas de diferentes formações analisam a questão. “A violência hoje está intimamente associada à juventude. Um comportamento que até um tempo atrás era cativo das camadas populares, hoje se dissemina igualmente nas classes médias. Mas é preciso sair dessa concepção unicamente assistencialista ou repressiva e encontrar outras alternativas”, diz.

Nesse sentido, a rede, que reúne psicanalistas, psicólogos, sociólogos, criminologistas, juristas e comunicólogos, vem refletindo sobre a questão em diversos trabalhos. Já foram promovidos dois colóquios, em 2008 e 2009, um deles transformado em livro, pela editora Contracapa, com o mesmo nome da rede, Juventude, Subjetivação e Violência. “Também estamos publicando uma revista eletrônica, em que colocamos os artigos dos especialistas da rede. Já publicamos o número zero, que submetemos à avaliação para indexação, e para 2010 temos previsão de mais duas edições”, expõe. Para junho, está sendo organizado um seminário para que os pesquisadores apresentem seus trabalhos. E, no segundo semestre, haverá outro, com conferencistas convidados.

Entre os vários estudos que integram a rede, a socióloga Vera Malaguti analisa exatamente como em vez de pensar formas de inclusão social, a sociedade lida com a questão da violência com políticas que criminalizam a juventude que apresenta comportamento deste tipo. A psicanalista Sílvia Nunes, que focaliza a gravidez adolescente, avalia como, especialmente entre as classes populares, essa gravidez funciona para a jovem mãe como a criação de uma certa respeitabilidade social e ainda como forma de proteção contra a violência, sobretudo sexual, em comunidades de baixa renda.

Para o psicanalista Joel Birman, a sociedade falha em promover a inclusão social do jovem.

“Já o professor de literatura Camilo Pena examina as novas formas de produção cultural e literatura das camadas populares, como blogs, panfletos e produção musical, que traduzem uma tentativa de criação de signos identitários”, exemplifica Joel Birman.

Outra pesquisa, de Wedencley Alves Santana, analisa o atual esvaziamento do potencial de promessa que a educação formal significava décadas atrás. Birman chama ainda a atenção para a participação de juristas que questionam o engessamento de nosso Código Penal, que cristaliza essa tendência criminalizante em seu olhar sobre o comportamento da juventude.

“Acreditamos que há uma lógica social maior nessas situações do que simplesmente a criminal. O grande eixo de nossa leitura é de questionar qual o lugar atual do jovem em nossa sociedade, levando-se em conta como a sociedade organizada falha em promover a inclusão social.”

Segundo o psicanalista, hoje, a ideia sobre o que é ser adolescente é diferente do que há décadas passadas. “A organização linear das idades foi quebrada nos anos 1970. A infância dura menos tempo, e, em compensação, a adolescência começa mais cedo e se estende indefiinidamente. Agora, ficou difícil distinguir o que é adolescente ou um adulto jovem”, explica. Outros fatores contribuem. “Diante na nova formação da família contemporânea, marcada pela volutibilidade do casamento, as crianças não vivem mais necessariamente com seus pais biológicos, e ainda passam por uma adolescência prolongada e sem autonomia, já que os jovens, particularmente os de classe média, mantêm-se durante mais tempo apenas dedicados aos estudos, antes de entrar para o mercado de trabalho”, explica Birman.

Para o psicanalista, “sem o reconhecimento simbólico de seu lugar na sociedade, numa infantilização que se estende, eles passam a cultivar uma cultura corporal, explorando não só a estética, como a cultura da força e das várias formas de violência, buscando distinguir-se entre seus pares”. E exemplifica: “Se entre os jovens de classe média, há as brigas em boates, ou a direção irresponsável em alta velocidade, para os jovens das camadas populares, há a adesão ao tráfico.”

A resposta da sociedade ao problema, no entanto, tem duas vertentes. “Costuma ser extremamente dura e repressiva para o jovem de origem humilde, que seguidamente são enviados a instituições penais, onde são transformados em criminosos propriamente ditos, e bem mais condescendente para os jovens de classe média, que em geral são encarados como problemáticos e alvo de medidas terapêuticas”, diz. Segundo o psicanalista, isso acontece porque a visão dos órgãos policiais e judiciais é fazer uma leitura a partir de um “potencial de periculosidade”, que encara sempre o jovem mais pobre como potencialmente mais perigoso.

No filme Meu nome não é Johnny, o protagonista da história, um jovem de classe média, é preso com grande quantidade de cocaína. Levado a julgamento, sua figura comove a juíza, que em vez de condená-lo como traficante, o envia para tratamento no manicômio judiciário. A história, real, ilustra bem a dualidade do olhar da sociedade brasileira, que certamente seria bem menos condescendente com réus das classes populares na mesma situação.

“Hoje, há uma tendência internacional de questionar essa visão criminalizante, de ver mais criticamente essas políticas de aprisionamento. No Instituto Carioca de Criminologia, coordenado pelo jurista Nilo Batista, já temos uma abordagem que dialoga com essa perspectiva”, diz Birman. Unindo todos esses estudos, fica a perspectiva de uma maior reflexão que traga outras alternativas de solução.

© FAPERJ – Todas as matérias poderão ser reproduzidas, desde que citada a fonte.

>The Climate Majority (N.Y. Times)

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Op-Ed Contributor

By JON A. KROSNICK
Published: June 8, 2010

ON Thursday, the Senate will vote on a resolution proposed by Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, that would scuttle the Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to limit emissions of greenhouse gases by American businesses.

Passing the resolution might seem to be exactly what Americans want. After all, national surveys released during the last eight months have been interpreted as showing that fewer and fewer Americans believe that climate change is real, human-caused and threatening to people.

But a closer look at these polls and a new survey by my Political Psychology Research Group show just the opposite: huge majorities of Americans still believe the earth has been gradually warming as the result of human activity and want the government to institute regulations to stop it.

In our survey, which was financed by a grant to Stanford from the National Science Foundation, 1,000 randomly selected American adults were interviewed by phone between June 1 and Monday. When respondents were asked if they thought that the earth’s temperature probably had been heating up over the last 100 years, 74 percent answered affirmatively. And 75 percent of respondents said that human behavior was substantially responsible for any warming that has occurred.

For many issues, any such consensus about the existence of a problem quickly falls apart when the conversation turns to carrying out specific solutions that will be costly. But not so here.

Fully 86 percent of our respondents said they wanted the federal government to limit the amount of air pollution that businesses emit, and 76 percent favored government limiting business’s emissions of greenhouse gases in particular. Not a majority of 55 or 60 percent — but 76 percent.

Large majorities opposed taxes on electricity (78 percent) and gasoline (72 percent) to reduce consumption. But 84 percent favored the federal government offering tax breaks to encourage utilities to make more electricity from water, wind and solar power.

And huge majorities favored government requiring, or offering tax breaks to encourage, each of the following: manufacturing cars that use less gasoline (81 percent); manufacturing appliances that use less electricity (80 percent); and building homes and office buildings that require less energy to heat and cool (80 percent).

Thus, there is plenty of agreement about what people do and do not want government to do.

Our poll also indicated that some of the principal arguments against remedial efforts have been failing to take hold. Only 18 percent of respondents said they thought that policies to reduce global warming would increase unemployment and only 20 percent said they thought such initiatives would hurt the nation’s economy. Furthermore, just 14 percent said the United States should not take action to combat global warming unless other major industrial countries like China and India do so as well.

Our findings might seem implausible in light of recent polls that purport to show that Americans are increasingly skeptical about the very existence of climate change. But in fact, those polls did not produce conflicting evidence at all.

Consider, for example, the most publicized question from a 2009 Pew Research Center poll: “From what you’ve read and heard, is there solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past few decades, or not?” This question measured perceptions of scientific evidence that the respondent has read or heard about, not the respondents’ personal opinions about whether the earth has been warming. Someone who has had no exposure to scientific evidence or who perceives the evidence to be equivocal may nonetheless be convinced that the earth has been heating up by, say, the early blossoming of plants in his garden.

Or consider a widely publicized Gallup question: “Thinking about what is said in the news, in your view, is the seriousness of global warming generally exaggerated, generally correct or is it generally underestimated?” This question asked about respondents’ perceptions of the news, not the respondents’ perception of warming. A person who believes climate change has been happening might also feel that news media coverage of it has been exaggerated.

Questions in other polls that sought to tap respondents’ personal beliefs about the existence and causes of warming violated two of the cardinal rules of good survey question design: ask about only one thing at a time, and choose language that makes it easy for respondents to understand and answer each question.

Imagine being asked this, from a poll by CNN: “Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming: Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities like power plants and factories; global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by natural changes that have nothing to do with emissions from cars and industrial facilities; or, global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven.”

Notice that the question didn’t even offer the opportunity for respondents to say they believe global warming is definitely not happening — not the sort of question that will provide the most valid measurements.

When surveys other than ours have asked simple and direct questions, they have produced results similar to ours. For example, in November, an ABC News/Washington Post survey found that 72 percent of respondents said the earth has been heating up, and a December poll by Ipsos/McClatchy found this proportion to be 70 percent.

Our surveys did reveal a small recent decline in the proportion of people who believe global warming has been happening, from 84 percent in 2007 to 80 percent in 2008 to 74 percent today. Statistical analysis of our data revealed that this decline is attributable to perceptions of recent weather changes by the minority of Americans who have been skeptical about climate scientists.

In terms of average earth temperature, 2008 was the coldest year since 2000. Scientists say that such year-to-year fluctuations are uninformative, and people who trust scientists therefore ignore this information when forming opinions about global warming’s existence. Citizens who do not trust climate scientists, however, base their conclusions on their personal observations of nature. These low-trust individuals were especially aware of the recent decline in average world temperatures; they were the ones in our survey whose doubts about global warming have increased since 2007.

This explanation is especially significant, because it suggests that the small recent decline in the proportion of people who believe in global warming is likely to be temporary. If the earth’s temperature begins to rise again, these individuals may reverse course and rejoin the large majority who still think warming is real.

Growing public skepticism has, in recent months, been attributed to news reports about e-mail messages hacked from the computer system at the University of East Anglia in Britain (characterized as showing climate scientists colluding to silence unconvinced colleagues) and by the discoveries of alleged flaws in reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Our new survey discredited this claim in multiple ways. First, we found no decline in Americans’ trust in environmental scientists: 71 percent of respondents said they trust these scientists a moderate amount, a lot or completely, a figure that was 68 percent in 2008 and 70 percent in 2009. Only 9 percent said they knew about the East Anglia e-mail messages and believed they indicated that climate scientists should not be trusted, and only 13 percent of respondents said so about the I.P.C.C. reports’ alleged flaws.

Interestingly, Americans are not alone in having their views portrayed inaccurately. A February BBC News survey asked Britons, “From what you know and have heard, do you think that the earth’s climate is changing and global warming is taking place?” Seventy-five percent of respondents answered affirmatively, down a somewhat improbable eight percentage points from 83 percent in November. A BBC headline blared, “Climate Skepticism on the Rise,” when it should have proclaimed that a huge majority of Britons still share common ground with one another and with Americans on this issue.

GLOBAL warming has attracted what political scientists dub an “issue public”: millions of Americans who are passionate about this subject and put pressure on government to follow their wishes. For over a decade, this group has been of typical issue-public size, about 15 percent of American adults.

Although issue publics usually divide about equally on opposing sides — think of abortion or immigration — 88 percent of the climate change issue public in our survey believed that global warming has been happening; 88 percent attributed responsibility for it to human action; 92 percent wanted the federal government to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that businesses can emit. Put simply, the people whose votes are most powerfully shaped by this issue are sending a nearly unanimous signal to their elected representatives.

All this makes global warming a singular issue in American politics. Even as we are told that Americans are about equally divided into red and blue, a huge majority shares a common vision of climate change. This creates a unique opportunity for elected representatives to satisfy a lot of voters.

When senators vote on emissions limits on Thursday, there is one other number they might want to keep in mind: 72 percent of Americans think that most business leaders do not want the federal government to take steps to stop global warming. A vote to eliminate greenhouse gas regulation is likely to be perceived by the nation as a vote for industry, and against the will of the people.

Jon A. Krosnick is a professor of communication, political science and psychology at Stanford.

>Surging food costs hit poor nations hard; biofuels compound problem (AP)

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JOE McDONALD, AP Business Writer
Associated Press
June 06, 2010, 7:59PM

In this photo taken May 28, 2010, an elderly Assamese man ties grain in a rice paddy in the village of Mayong, about 30 miles east of Gauhati, India.

BEIJING, China – Families from Pakistan to Argentina to Congo are being battered by surging food prices that are dragging more people into poverty, fueling political tensions and forcing some to give up eating meat, fruit and even tomatoes.

Scraping to afford the next meal is still a grim daily reality in the developing world even though the global food crisis that dominated headlines in 2008 quickly faded in the U.S. and other rich countries.

With food costing up to 70 percent of family income in the poorest countries, rising prices are squeezing household budgets and threatening to worsen malnutrition, while inflation stays moderate in the United States and Europe. Compounding the problem in many countries: prices hardly fell from their peaks in 2008, when global food prices jumped in part due to a smaller U.S. wheat harvest and demand for crops to use in biofuels.

Majeedan Begum, a Pakistani mother of five, said a bag of flour for bread, the staple of her family’s diet, costs three times what it did two years ago in her hometown of Multan. She can no longer afford meat or fruit.

“My domestic budget has been ruined,” said Begum, 35.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s food price index — which includes grains, meat, dairy and other items in 90 countries — was up 22 percent in March from a year earlier though still below 2008 levels. In some Asian markets, rice and wheat prices are 20 to 70 percent above 2008 levels, it says.

Many governments blame dry weather and high fuel costs but critics in countries such as India, Argentina and Egypt say misguided policies are making shortages worse and collusion by suppliers might be pushing up prices.

No single factor explains the inflation gap between developing and developed countries but poorer economies are more vulnerable to an array of problems that can push up prices, and many are cropping up this year.

Little guy hit harder

Farmers with less land and irrigation are hit harder by drought and floods. Civil war and other conflicts can disrupt supplies. Prices in import-dependent economies spike up when the local currency weakens, as Pakistan’s rupee has this year.

Costs also have been pushed up by a rebound in global commodity prices, especially for soy destined for Asian consumption. That has prompted a shift in Argentina and elsewhere to produce more for export, which has led to local shortages of beef and other food. The global financial crisis hurt food production in some countries by making it harder for farmers to get credit for seed and supplies.

In Mauritania in West Africa, rice prices doubled over the first three months of the year, according to the World Food Program. Over the same period, the price of corn rose 59 percent in Zimbabwe and 57 percent in neighboring Mozambique.

In Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mami Monga pays $25 for a box of fish that cost $10 a year ago. The price of a 25-kilogram bag of rice has doubled to $30.

“Today I am obliged to buy half the food I used to buy mid-last year,” said Mami, a mother of five. 

“Ratchet effect” locks in price hikes

Kinshasa shopkeeper Abedi Patelli said prices rise when the exchange rate of Congo’s currency falls. “But when our currency improves against the U.S. dollar, prices don’t fall,” he said. “They remain steady.”

WFP spokesman Greg Barrow said poorer countries can suffer a “ratchet effect” that locks in price rises due to high transportation costs and limited competition.

“Prices dropped fairly dramatically toward the end of 2008 on international markets but we found prices remained relatively high in many local markets in developing countries,” said Barrow.

After the cost of food rises, “it tends to take a long time to go down,” he said.

The FAO said the double blow of the global recession and high food prices has pushed 100 million people into poverty.

Opposition parties have organized protests in Pakistan. In Egypt, a 50 percent jump in meat prices in recent weeks has helped to fuel demonstrations outside parliament over wages and other economic issues.

“I am afraid that I will wake up one day and not able to get enough bread for my 12-member family,” said Aboulella Moussa, a doorman at a Cairo apartment building.

People interviewed in a number of countries said they are coping not just by cutting out expensive items but by eating less — a trend that has stirred concern about malnutrition.

In the 2008 inflation spike, WFP found families in some countries skipped meals or switched to eating corn husks or other low-quality produce. “Over the long term, this would lead to the effects of chronic malnutrition,” Barrow said.

“So we eat less”

“It’s expensive, so we eat less,” said Seema Valmiki, 35, who is raising three children in New Delhi with her husband on his 6,000-rupee ($135) monthly income as a driver.

Valmiki can no longer afford meat, fruit or fish and has put off buying her children new school uniforms, toys and a bicycle.

“If we buy them fruit, we can’t buy them food” like rice, dal and vegetables, she said.

In China, food costs rose 5.9 percent in April over a year ago — a modest rate for a country that suffered 20 percent-plus inflation in 2008. But it was enough to prompt the communist government to try to reassure the public with pledges that prices will ease as the spring harvest comes in. It also threatened to punish price gouging in a new effort to cool inflation.

Even in moderately prosperous nations such as Venezuela, shoppers say they can no longer afford meat and scour markets for bargains.

In Argentina, soy production has taken over more than 32 million acres (13 million hectares) of grassland once used to raise cattle and replaced less profitable wheat and corn as well, driving up prices in supermarkets.

Argentina’s government has responded with higher taxes, export limits, controls on supermarket prices of meat, wheat and corn, subsidies to food producers and pay hikes of 30 percent for union workers. The moves have temporarily eased the pain but beef producers have thinned their herds in response to government intervention and the price of meat has doubled in the last year.

Cutting out meat, tomatoes

“Before, we would eat meat three times a week. Now it’s once, with luck,” said Marta Esposito, a 45-year-old mother of two in Buenos Aires. “Tomatoes, don’t even talk about it. We eat whatever is the cheapest.”

Venezuela’s 30.4 percent inflation is among the world’s highest. The oil-rich country is a major food importer and its bolivar has tumbled against the dollar, forcing up prices in local markets. In April, food prices rose 11 percent over the previous month.

The Venezuelan government has imposed price controls and arrested some shopkeepers for violating them. But the controls have led to shortages of beef, sugar, corn meal and butter, forcing the government to allow some prices to rise by 20 percent this year.

Elsewhere, rising prices highlight a more basic problem: making sure farm productivity keeps pace with burgeoning populations.

India’s food prices were up 17 percent in April over a year earlier but the government hopes normal rainfall this growing season will increase supplies. The rise has been driven in part by growing demand from the rural poor, who can afford to spend more on food thanks to government debt-relief and job-creation programs.

Longer term, experts say India, with more than 1 billion people, has to speed up growth in farm production if it is to keep up with demand.

“Our capacity to feed every Indian is systematically declining with time,” said Harsh Mander, who was appointed by India’s Supreme Court to monitor hunger. “World markets can’t bail us out.”

___

McDonald reported from Beijing. AP Business Writer Erika Kinetz in Mumbai, researcher Bonnie Cao in Beijing and Associated Press Writers Debora Rey in Buenos Aires, Salah Nasrawi in Cairo, Sebastian Abbot in Islamabad, Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas, Patrice Chitera in Kinshasa and Tran Van Minh in Hanoi contributed to this report.

>Active Hurricane Season Predicted (IRI)

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The Atlantic hurricane season has officially started, and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society has issued its updated seasonal hurricane forecast for the region. The results continue to indicate that an above-normal season is very likely. This could spell trouble for highly vulnerable Caribbean nations such as Haiti, still reeling from the effects of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12, 2010. On top of this, other forecasts point to increased thunderstorm activity for the region as well.
The IRI’s hurricane forecast probabilities are the strongest the institution has ever issued at this point in the season, eclipsed only by a late-season forecast during record-setting 2005. The latest numbers call for a 50% chance of above-normal activity, 35% chance of near-normal activity and a 15% chance for below-normal activity. Put in simpler terms, this means that the chance of having an above-normal year is more than three times the chance of having a below-normal one.

The hurricane forecast issued last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is even stronger, calling for an 85% chance of an above-normal season.
Although the forecast calls for an active season, this doesn’t guarantee that devastation will occur. The seasonal forecasts don’t tell us where, when or if the hurricanes will hit land. They just tell us that we’ll likely see more of them this season, increasing the odds that some inhabited areas will get hit.
Because of the potentially destructive nature of hurricanes and tropical storms, the higher odds are a cause for concern. “Hurricanes can devastate the economies of the Caribbean and Central America,” says Walter Baethgen, who runs IRI’s regional program for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Our hope is that seasonal forecasts and other types of climate information will feed into emergency networks and early-warning systems currently operating in the region.”
To facilitate this, the IRI helped develop a website focused on supplying government staff, relief workers and development agents located in Haiti with the most up-to-date weather and climate forecasts for the country. By making this information available through its ongoing partnerships with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the IRI hopes to alleviate some of these elevated storm risks for Haiti and ultimately help save lives this hurricane season….
You can read the rest of this story here:

>Blame: the hidden (and difficult) side of the climate change debate

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By Renzo Taddei (State University of Campinas, Brazil)
Anthropology News – November 2008

Between 1877 and 1879, Northeast Brazil was crippled by one of the region’s most historically significant droughts. Around half million people may have died due to drought-related famine and epidemic outbreaks. Many of the region’s Catholic-majority inhabitants believed the drought was a form of divine punishment for the moral corruption of society, an idea reinforced in an epistle issued by the local bishop. More than a century later, in January 2004, when I was carrying out fieldwork in the region, extremely intense rains flooded the region, displacing over 100 thousand people. During interviews, some of the impacted echoed earlier beliefs that the disaster was the result of divine punishment. This time they pointed to television headlines — animal cloning, NASA’s expedition to Mars, the war in Iraq, among other things – as causes for divine discontent. Humans were going beyond their proper sphere of action, they said.

This research called my attention to the role of blame in cultural models about climate. The main international debates on climate change focus almost exclusively on the phenomenon’s physical causes, while at the same time there is an enormous ethnographic literature that reveals “blame” to be integral to how societies deal with crises in general (and climate related ones in particular). This reveals a conceptual gap where anthropology can effectively make critical contributions.

Indeed, it seems that the association between climate events and supposed human misdeeds is culturally pervasive and enduring. Of course in some places these beliefs may not to be the dominant, but they tend to reappear as a strong paradigm in moments of crisis. For instance, Mary Douglas, in Risk and Blame, provides ample evidence that this way of dealing with crises is not restricted to tribal and traditional societies, but marks Western societies alike. If she is right (and I believe she is), it makes the topic of blame politically relevant to our analyses of societal reactions to climate events and uncertainties.

One example of how blame is associated with climate can be seen in the rejection of climate modeling in water management. As Steve Rayner and his collaborators demonstrated in California and as I witnessed in Brazil, water managers resist incorporating new technologies that increase uncertainty, even if in the aggregate there are gains in efficiency. As an illustration, imagine a situation where two individuals are in conflict for the water stored in a reservoir: both want the water, but they also want to keep a certain volume saved for future needs. If a climate forecast predicts high probability of heavy rains in the upcoming rainy season, they may use more water in the present, thus resolving the conflict. But since climate forecasts are probabilistic, due to the extreme complexity of the atmosphere, the hydrological models will also become probabilistic. In the long run, a forecast will fail resulting in a water crisis. The public and most politicians don’t see the inherent uncertainties of modeling, and in a situation of crisis, there is a general expectation that someone is accountable. Not unlike the search for divine causation, the inherent uncertainty of climate modeling may produce an atmosphere where blame is politically expedient (and water managers risk losing their jobs). This context means that it is extremely difficult to convince water managers to use climate-based technologies.

Understanding how blame is present in cultural models about climate, in climate politics, and in the local institutionalized ways of addressing crises is, from an anthropological perspective, necessary if the discipline is to make effective contributions to the international debate on climate change. While international debates discuss how much certainty we need to enable political action, a second, equally important question, is how much uncertainty our political systems can take before triggering blaming and scapegoating rituals. Similarly, if culturally embedded models frame the idea of climate change as a situation where nature is “punishing” humanity for its misdeeds – carbon emissions, pollution, destruction of forests, reduction of biodiversity, and the like -individuals may take this punishment as deserved, which may induce them to assume a posture of resignation and inaction. Naturally, this is a hypothesis to be tested ethnographically.

>Essay Review: The Climate Change Debates (Science)

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Philip Kitcher
Department of Philosophy, Columbia University
E-mail: psk16@columbia.edu

Originally published in Science Express on 27 May 2010
Science 4 June 2010: Vol. 328. no. 5983, pp. 1230 – 1234 – DOI: 10.1126/science.1189312

In one of the earliest and most eloquent pleas for open discussion and debate, John Milton wrote:

And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously, by licensing and prohibiting, to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse, in a free and open encounter. (1)

Two centuries after Milton, in the same year in which Charles Darwin published the Origin, John Stuart Mill’s essay On Liberty (2) added further arguments for the free exchange of ideas, suggesting that such exchange is vital for intellectual and social health. Although both Milton and Mill stand behind our current acquiescence in the value of extensive free discussion, both of them knew that they were opposing ancient suspicions about the viability of democracy. The political theorists and philosophers of the Greco-Roman world viewed ordinary folk as vulnerable to deception and exploitation. Allowed to determine the direction of the state, the folk would be easily seduced into believing falsehoods aligned with the interests of charismatic leaders, so that the popular voice would enthusiastically clamor for disastrous policies. Better, then, to entrust the ship of state to wise navigators, whose wisdom embraced both depth of understanding and moral integrity.

The contrast between these two perspectives on public discussion and policy bears on our own times, although the risks may affect our species as a whole and the stakes may be far higher. For three decades, prominent climate scientists have been warning of the dangerous effects of the continual emission of greenhouse gases into Earth’s atmosphere. They have been attempting to identify and to explain just what those effects are likely to be—for ourselves, our children, and our more remote descendants. And they have been urging a variety of measures that might prevent some of the disasters whose possibility they claim to foresee. Yet it is evident that substantial disagreement remains about the consequences for humans and for other species. This is so even in those countries where citizens have largely accepted the conclusions that anthropogenic global warming exists and is likely to raise the average temperature on our planet at least 2°C by the end of the century. In the United States, the state of discussion is less advanced: Denying the reality of human-caused climate change continues to figure as a serious possibility in public debates. And a large fraction of the populace believes that scientists’ warnings about the impact of any increases in global temperatures are exaggerated.

For those who play the role of Cassandra in this drama, such as climatologists James Hansen (NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies) and Stephen Schneider (Stanford University), a 30-year effort to alert policy-makers, politicians, and the public to what they perceive as significant dangers can only be seen as frustrating. They have been moved to write books, accessible to a general readership, that will record the ways in which their warnings have been ignored—and their voices sometimes muffled. In Storms of My Grandchildren, Hansen attempts to combine the story of his own efforts with (yet another) attempt to explain the pertinent parts of climate science as clearly as he can. Science as a Contact Sport presents Schneider’s insider account of the struggles to understand and moderate human-induced atmospheric changes. Other climate scientists, like Mike Hulme (University of East Anglia), who live in societies where the level of discussion has usually been more informed, are inclined to see matters differently. They hold that continued debate reflects the genuine difficulties of the underlying issues and sometimes explicitly chide their colleagues (as Hulme does in Why We Disagree About Climate Change) for a tendency to “apocalyptic” pronouncements. So, in reflections on the debates of the past decades, there opens up a genuine dispute about the role of scientists in influencing public policy, with some urging a stronger voice for expert testimony and others recommending reticence and even quietism.

In part, the differences between Hansen and Schneider, on the one hand, and Hulme, on the other, stem from their concerns with rather different controversies. It is useful to differentiate three questions. First is the issue of whether human activities, specifically actions that increase the emission of greenhouse gases, are contributing to a significant average warming of Earth. (As all the expert authors point out very clearly, there is no suggestion that the temperature of every region will rise during the next decades.) Second are questions about the probabilities with which various phenomena (complete melting of ice sheets, for example) will occur and about their consequences for human beings and other species. Third are considerations about what might be done to halt (or even reverse) the warming and to limit the damaging consequences. Hulme emphasizes the complexity of the third set of issues. He notes how they are intertwined with difficulties about understanding economic trends and changes, about global justice, about the values assigned to things that are hard to assess in economic terms (ecosystems, the continuation of particular forms of human social life), about practical geopolitics, and even about religious perspectives. Focusing on this intricate web of problems, he elaborates an extensive case for the naturalness of continued disagreement.

For Hansen and Schneider, however, the first two questions are primary (although Hansen ventures some proposals about the third as well). Both contributed to repeated attempts to persuade successive American administrations of the existence and importance of anthropogenic global warming, and Schneider participated in lengthy discussions during the preparation of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports—discussions in which voices representing political interests seem to have forced compromising the eventual presentation of the pertinent scientific ideas. Their experiences incline them to emphasize the importance of expert judgment, effectively renewing the ancient worries about the dangers of democracy. Both believe that genuine democratic participation in the issues can only begin when citizens are in a position to understand what kinds of policies promote their interests. To achieve that requires a far clearer and unmistakable communication of the consensus views of climate scientists, with respect to the existence of anthropogenic global warming and to the chances of various effects, than has hitherto been available. In his choice of title, Hansen implicitly questions the frequent assumption that effects on future generations are subject to some “deep discount.” He explicitly notes that people’s common concern for the fates of their children and grandchildren provides a shared starting point for responding to the changes that might threaten them. Consequently, if citizens are to be able to express their views about things that matter most to them, they need informed views about the planet on which their descendants will live. Serious democracy requires reliance on expert opinion.

It is all too easy to be beguiled by an opposite thought: that democracy demands that there be extensive public discussion, even on technical matters, discussion in which all participants operate as equals. Those in the grip of this idea will view Hansen and Schneider as hysterical and arrogant people who aim to short-circuit the proper airing of alternative views. (Although sympathetic critics might also ponder the fact that these two eminent scientists have been rebutting the same “alternatives” for decades). Perhaps continued discussion could be tolerated, were there no urgency about the issue under debate. If they saw no compulsion to act soon—and if they were convinced that the fight were fair—Hansen and Schneider might share Milton’s confidence that truth would ultimately emerge as victor. Yet the stories they tell in their gripping narratives reveal all too many points at which messages have been distorted and suppressed because of the short-term interests of economic and political agents. They also demonstrate many ways in which the arena of public discussion has been set up to block the widespread acceptance of conclusions based on an increasing body of evidence.

The insiders’ stories of ways in which crucial information has effectively been withheld from voters, particularly in the United States, should give us pause about the functioning of our democracy. Even more powerful is the account provided by two outstanding historians who have reviewed a sequence of controversies around topics of public concern. In their fascinating and important study, Merchants of Doubt, Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway offer convincing evidence for a surprising and disturbing thesis. Opposition to scientifically well-supported claims about the dangers of cigarette smoking, the difficulties of the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”), the effects of acid rain, the existence of the ozone hole, the problems caused by secondhand smoke, and—ultimately—the existence of anthropogenic climate change was used in “the service of political goals and commercial interests” to obstruct the transmission to the American public of important information. Amazingly, the same small cadre of obfuscators figured in all these episodes.

Oreskes (University of California, San Diego) and Conway (NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory) painstakingly trace the ways in which a few scientists, with strong ties to particular industries and with conservative political connections, have played a disproportionate role in debates about controversial questions, influencing policy-makers and the general public alike. Typically, these scientists have obtained their stature in fields other than those most pertinent to the debated question. Yet they have been able to cast enough doubt on the consensus views arrived at by scientists within the relevant disciplines to delay, often for a substantial period, widespread public acceptance of consequential hypotheses. They have used their stature in whatever areas of science they originally distinguished themselves to pose as experts who express an “alternative view” to the genuinely expert conclusions that seem problematic to the industries that support them or that threaten the ideological directions in which their political allies hope to lead.

The extraordinary story of deliberate obfuscation that Oreskes and Conway document begins with the delight of the tobacco companies in recruiting Fred Seitz and with Seitz’s own connections to “scientists in their twilight years who had turned to fields in which they had no training or experience.” It moves through the forging of a network of industrial and political alliances, and the creation of a variety of institutes and think-tanks devoted to challenging various forms of expert consensus, to a brilliant chapter in which the authors analyze the reasons why, as of 2009, a significant percentage of Americans (43%) continued to dissent from the minimal claim that there is “solid evidence the Earth is warming.” As Oreskes and Conway conclude:

There are many reasons why the United States has failed to act on global warming, but at least one is the confusion raised by Bill Nierenberg, Fred Seitz, and Fred Singer.

This apparently harsh claim is thoroughly justified through a powerful dissection of the ways in which prominent climate scientists, such as Roger Revelle and Ben Santer, were exploited or viciously attacked in the press.

None of this would have been possible without a web of connections among aging scientists, conservative politicians, and executives of companies (particularly those involved in fossil fuels) with a short-term economic interest in denying the impact of the emission of carbon into the atmosphere. But it also could not have produced the broad public skepticism about climate change without help from the media. As Oreskes and Conway point out, “balanced coverage” has become the norm in the dissemination of scientific information. Pitting adversaries against one another for a few minutes has proven an appealing strategy for television news programs to pursue in attracting and retaining viewers. Nor is the idea of “fair and balanced” coverage, in which the viewer (or reader) is allowed to decide, confined to Fox News. Competing “experts” have become common on almost all American radio and television programs, the Internet is awash in adversarial exchanges among those who claim to know, and newspapers, too, “sell” science by framing it as a sport (preferably as much of a contact sport as possible). Oreskes and Conway identify the ways in which the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal have nourished the public sense that anthropogenic climate change is a matter of dispute, how they have given disproportionately large space to articles and opinion pieces from the “merchants of doubt,” and how they have sometimes censored the attempts of serious climate scientists to set the record straight. Even the New York Times, the American newspaper that takes science reporting most seriously, typically “markets” scientific research by imposing a narrative based on competition among dissenting scientists.

Media contributions to public confusion—what Schneider labels “mediarology”—are elaborated in a number of these books. There is a serious question as to whether American science journalists have conspicuously failed to discharge what might have seemed their central function: to enlighten the public about topics of concern, in areas where an expert consensus has been reached. Howard Friel’s The Lomborg Deception offers a careful analysis of the ways in which the “skeptical environmentalist,” Bjørn Lomborg, has selectively used (and sometimes distorted) the available evidence. Friel (an independent scholar whose previous books have critiqued the foreign and Middle East coverage of the New York Times) shows how Lomborg’s claims and his status as an expert were uncritically accepted. Apparently, the idea of framing environmental science in terms of a duel between rival “expert perspectives” was too seductive to resist.

For half a century, since the pioneering work of Thomas Kuhn (3), scholars who study the resolution of major scientific debates have understood how complex and difficult judgments about the probative value of data or the significance of unresolved problems can be. The major transitions in the history of the sciences, from the 16th and 17th centuries to the present, have involved intricate debates among competing research programs, among well-informed scientists who gave different weight to particular sorts of evidence. It is an absurd fantasy to believe that citizens who have scant backgrounds in the pertinent field can make responsible decisions about complex technical matters, on the basis of a few five-minute exchanges among more-or-less articulate speakers or a small number of articles outlining alternative points of view. Democratic ideals have their place in the conduct of inquiry, for it is arguable that there should be more communication between scientists and outsiders in the construction of research agendas, in the discussion of standards of acceptable risk, and in the articulation of policies based on scientific consensus. Genuine democracy, however, requires a division of labor, in which particular groups are charged with the responsibility of resolving questions that bear on the interests of individuals and societies. Other groups, those covering such questions in the media, have the duty to convey the results so that citizens can cast their votes as an enlightened expression of freedom, justifiably aimed at the outcomes for which they hope. Staging a brief disagreement between speakers with supposedly equal credentials, especially when it is not disclosed that one of them is answering to the economic aspirations of a very small segment of the society, is a cynical abnegation of that duty.

Because it is so thorough in disclosing how major policy decisions have been delayed or distorted, Merchants of Doubt deserves a wide readership. It is tempting to require that all those engaged in the business of conveying scientific information to the general public should read it. And that science journalists should abandon the obfuscating practice of presenting alternatives with inferior justification as if they were on a par with the scientific consensus.

* * *

Even if American public opinion were reformed overnight, so that virtually all citizens were convinced that anthropogenic global warming is likely to raise the average temperature of the planet by at least 2°C, that would be only the beginning. Beyond that minimal acceptance lie the difficult issues of deciding just what the consequences of a warmer planet will be and what can be done about them. Here, too, denial can easily be induced. Those who want to resist regulatory actions contend that the difficulties that are likely to arise for our descendants have been greatly exaggerated, that whatever problems arise will be addressed by people in a better economic position than we are today, that human beings have shown an admirable ability to adapt to changing environments, and so on and on and on. In countries that have long taken anthropogenic climate change as a settled question, agreeing on the expected consequences and the appropriate response has not proved easy. American discussions are likely to be haunted by the long denial, so that suspicions about alarmism linger. As psychologists have repeatedly discovered, those who are misinformed and later corrected often lapse into versions of their original error.

Scientists who believe that there are grave consequences for Earth and its future inhabitants face a difficult dilemma. They can talk in probabilistic terms—typically very imprecise probabilistic terms—about possible scenarios. If those potential futures are to be made vivid in ways that might engage citizens and inspire them to action, then the scenarios need to be given in some detail. Yet, as they become more specific, the precision about probabilities goes down, even to the extent that it is only responsible to declare that some outcome lies within the range of possibilities. Occasionally, those who raise the alarm are more definite. If the Arctic ice (including the Greenland ice sheet) melts, polar bears will lose their habitat and the species will go extinct; if sea levels rise in the most probable ways, low-lying islands (and many coastal areas, such as the Ganges delta) will be submerged. Outcomes like these are often met with an uncomfortable shrug. They are to be regretted, of course, but if avoiding them really requires a serious modification of civilized life, then it seems better to adapt: relocate some polar bears to artificially cooled preserves; transport the unfortunate flood victims to higher ground.

Concentration on scenarios that can be presented in detail and also justified as likely entails a serious cost. For it encourages a public perception that these are the only outcomes the Cassandras of climate science fear. A stereotype easily follows. The movement toward action derives from an ideology, one centered in a dislike of competitive market capitalism, a fondness for regulation, a tendency to give priority to the needs of the poor, and an overemphasis on environmental conservation. Global warming is a device used by Birkenstock-wearing, tree-hugging, business-hating liberal intellectuals for advancing their political aims.

“Ideology” is a word that appears relatively frequently in Hulme’s Why We Disagree About Climate Change (although he never explains what he means by it). A climatologist who has devoted some serious time to studying history and social studies of science, Hulme aims to offer a broader perspective on the debates that arise once the initial question of the reality of human-caused global warming has been settled. His book is valuable for its diagnosis of the many different levels at which disagreement can arise and the variety of political stances and value judgments that can incline people to divergent conclusions about what is likely to happen and what might be done. In delineating that diversity, he moves the discussion beyond any appeal to polarized stereotypes: on this side, the captains of industry, their tools, and their dupes; on the other, the flower children in sandals.

Yet Hulme’s book invites misreading. His immersion in the language of various domains of social studies leads him to write as if the theoretical conceptions he deploys in classifying various positions were as reliably grounded as the scientific findings he so clearly and concisely explains. Sometimes, there is even a fashionable indulgence in skeptical distancing, the use of inverted commas (scare quotes) to raise a knowing eyebrow. He announces, for example, that he will tell the story of “how we ‘discovered’ that physical climates could change,” before going on to give a lucid account of how the discovery (real discovery) occurred. In a similar vein, he tells us that the “‘post-normal’ character of climate change” requires a wider range of expert voices, that scientists must concede ground to “other ways of knowing,” and that climate change can become “a mirror into which we can look and see exposed both our individual selves and our collective societies.” The concerned environmentalist who presses on through Hulme’s discussions of the “opportunities” provided for “us” by climate change may eventually give up when he tells his readers to “change our position and examine climate change as an idea of the imagination rather than as a problem to be solved.” Tell it to the Maldives!

That response, however, is too impatient. Hulme’s ideas are more subtle than the (often maladroit) jargon in which he expresses them. If his book more explicitly differentiated areas in which particular groups of people might have greater authority, it would be possible to recognize the value of his diagnoses of the difficulties that attend debates about climate change without supposing that he is advocating the narcissistic quietism his words often suggest. He could accept, for example, the judgment common to Hansen, Schneider, and Oreskes and Conway: that conclusions about the reality of anthropogenic climate change and about the risks that attend some scenarios for the future are matters that can be—and have been—authoritatively decided by a scientific community to which he himself belongs. He should then agree with the implication that, in this domain, it would be foolish to introduce “other ways of knowing.” Hulme could reasonably suppose that the public becomes properly engaged at the moment when risks have been specified—to the extent that they can be specified—and that citizens’ judgments are crucial to decisions about what risks count as acceptable. He could emphasize, as he comments in one of his best discussions, that any decision as to whether a possible future can be tolerated (or even welcomed) should be informed by economic considerations, even though ethical values are crucial to any serious assessment. Finally, his apparently passive recommendation to see ourselves in “the mirror” of climate change—like his Kennedyesque injunction to ask “what climate change can do for us”—can be interpreted more sympathetically as a call for a more systematic investigation of the global challenges that confront us today and those that our descendants will face, one that formulates strategies for safeguarding the future without sacrificing the interests of those currently living.

To make progress on these issues, there will be a need for generally accessible accounts of the likely impact that various levels of global warming will produce. Both Hansen and Schneider describe potential futures, with Schneider being particularly insistent on the important point that scientists owe the public a specification of probabilities (to the extent that that is possible). Two other recent books—The Climate Solutions Consensus from the National Council for Science and the Environment and Climate Change Science and Policy (for which Schneider served as one of its editors)—offer some helpful and relatively nontechnical information for concerned citizens. The organization of Climate Change Science and Policy is particularly valuable, because of the volume’s focus on specific types of changes that would affect the lives of future people. It breaks free of the stereotypical concerns about marooned polar bears and dispossessed islanders to emphasize facts about rising sea levels and melting glaciers that are not sufficiently appreciated. Thus Peter Gleick’s chapter on water concisely identifies the likely disruption of water supplies and the serious chances of flood-induced pollution. Similarly, Kristie Ebi delivers a useful summary of a variety of ways in which our descendants will probably be more vulnerable to infectious diseases and respiratory conditions. (Although she omits concerns about the possible effects of environmental change on the evolution of disease vectors and cross-species transmission—perhaps because, in assessing these events, the chances are unspecifiable.)

Even though discussions of the predicaments people will face in the future do not exhaust the relevant considerations for deciding what actions we should take now, it is wise to bring them to the fore. Citizens need to understand the challenges with respect to shelter, food supply, water supply, and disease that are likely to arise for their descendants. Hansen’s clear perception that an overwhelming majority of the world’s population can share a concern about the kinds of lives that will be available to their children and grandchildren is echoed in the decision by the distinguished social theorist Anthony Giddens (London School of Economics) to ground his recommendations in the thesis that “objects in nature can only have value through us” (4). Although some environmentalists would demur, Giddens’s approach in The Politics of Climate Change has the advantage of increasing the chances for consensus. Like Hulme, he is much concerned to recognize the connections among global problems, insisting, from the beginning, that the challenges of responding to climate change and of meeting the energy needs of the human population must be faced in tandem. He differs from Hulme in not attempting any wide survey of sources of disagreement, and, as readers of his previous works might expect, he is lucid and precise in outlining potential courses of social action. If his book, conceived as a guide for the perplexed citizen, has a flaw, that lies in the breadth and number of the ideas he explores. Those ideas are offered in response to threats he views as profoundly serious:

It will be a colossal task to turn around a society whose whole way of life is constructed around mobility and a ‘natural right’ to consume energy in a profligate way. Yet it isn’t as hopeless an endeavour as it looks.

* * *

All the books reviewed here were written before climate change deniers exultantly exposed the mistakes made by the IPCC in announcing the imminent demise of the Himalayan glaciers and the “conspiratorial e-mails” from the East Anglia climate center. In the wake of these “important revelations,” the merchants of doubt were back in business. In December 2009, Reuters published a discussion by Singer in which he claimed that the IPCC report was based on “distorted raw data” and algorithms that were not shared with other scientists (5). Few readers of Singer’s presentation, or those given by other longstanding climate-change deniers, learned that there is significant independent evidence for Himalayan glacier melt, although not as rapid as the erroneous sentence implied. Probably still fewer understood that the competitive-cooperative interactions among scientists often involve unguarded remarks about the work of rival “teams,” and that references to “tricks” frequently advert to strategies for simplifying complicated mathematical problems or (as in this case) graphical methods of presenting a conclusion perspicuously, rather than to stratagems for deceiving the public. Captured by a naïve and oversimplified image of what “objective science” is like, it is easy for citizens to reject claims of scientific authority when they discover that scientific work is carried out by human beings.

These revelations probably retarded any serious American consensus even on the minimal judgment that is the preliminary to the longer and more difficult debate. Meanwhile, the disappointment at Copenhagen can be seen as evidence that the world is lapsing into a state of resignation. The emissions, of course, do not take a break from the hard decisions.

Nevertheless, there are grounds for the hope expressed by Giddens. Among them is the fact that serious scholars from a variety of crucial disciplines have written valuable books on which future deliberations can build. Those deliberations will require a new synthesis that involves scientists, social scientists, historians—and others, too. It is an embarrassment (at least for me) that philosophers have not contributed more to this necessary conversation. We might clarify some of the methodological issues—for instance, those concerning the variety of risks involved in model-building. Perhaps more important, we could use recent ethical work on responsibilities to future generations and to distant people to articulate a detailed ethical framework that might help a planet’s worth of policy-makers find their way to consensus. With luck, a broader group of dedicated scholars may be galvanized by the books discussed here, so that the potential disasters Hansen and Schneider have been warning us about for 30 years will be averted. Perhaps, in the end, truth—and wisdom—will prevail.

References and Notes

* 1. J. Milton, Areopagitica (London, 1644); http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/608.
* 2. J. S. Mill, On Liberty (London, 1859); http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645o/.
* 3. T. S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1962).
* 4. Giddens derives this view about values from the political philosopher Robert Goodin [see, for example, (6)].
* 5. http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/tag/climate-change-conference/.
* 6. R. Goodin, Green Political Theory (Polity, Cambridge, 1992).

Books Discussed

Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming
By Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway. Bloomsbury, New York, 2010. 365 pp. $27, £25. ISBN 9781596916104.

Why We Disagree About Climate Change: Understanding Controversy, Inaction and Opportunity
By Mike Hulme. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2009. 432 pp. $80, £45. ISBN 9780521898690. Paper, $29.99, £15.99. ISBN 9780521727327.

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity
By James Hansen. Bloomsbury, New York, 2009. 320 pp. $25, £18. ISBN 9781608192007.

Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate
By Stephen H. Schneider. National Geographic, Washington, DC, 2009. 303 pp. $28, C$35, £16.99. ISBN 9781426205408.

The Lomborg Deception: Setting the Record Straight About Global Warming
By Howard Friel. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2010. 270 pp. $28, £18.99. ISBN 9780300161038.

The Climate Solutions Consensus
By David E. Blockstein and Leo Wiegman. Island Press, Washington, DC, 2010. 328 pp. $50, £31. ISBN 9781597266369. Paper, $30, £18.99. ISBN 9781597266741.

Climate Change Science and Policy
Stephen H. Schneider, Armin Rosencranz, Michael D. Mastrandrea, and Kristin Kuntz-Duriseti, Eds. Island Press, Washington, DC, 2010. 542 pp. $95, £59. ISBN 9781597265669. Paper, $49.50, £37. ISBN 9781597265676.

The Politics of Climate Change
By Anthony Giddens. Polity, Cambridge, 2009. 272 pp. $69.95, £55. ISBN 9780745646923. Paper, $22.95, £12.99. ISBN 9780745646930.

Comments posted on the essay review here.

>Corte portuguesa contratou há 214 anos naturalistas para conhecer melhor as riquezas naturais do país

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Memória
A ciência no Brasil Colônia

Neldson Marcolin
Pesquisa Fapesp, Edição Impressa 171 – Maio 2010

© Museu Paulista/USP

Interior de São Paulo no século XIX retratado no quadro Pirapora do Curuçá (hoje Tietê), 1826, de Zilda Pereira

A contratação de cientistas pelo Estado para realizar estudos sobre a natureza e aprimorar tecnologias está longe de ser uma iniciativa recente no Brasil. No final do século XVIII a Corte portuguesa determinou expressamente aos governadores das capitanias brasileiras a admissão de naturalistas com o objetivo de fazer mapas do território, realizar prospecção mineral e desenvolver e disseminar técnicas agrícolas mais eficientes. Tudo para tentar gerar mais divisas e ajudar a equilibrar as periclitantes contas do reino de Portugal.

A ordem para buscar os homens de ciência capazes de pesquisar a natureza brasileira partiu de dom Rodrigo de Sousa Coutinho ao assumir a Secretaria de Estado da Marinha e Domínios Ultramarinhos, em 1796, e formular uma nova política para a administração do Império colonial português. Para ele, era urgente conhecer a utilidade econômica das espécies nativas e investigar o verdadeiro potencial mineral das terras de além-mar. Aos governadores de cada capitania cabia acompanhar os trabalhos e relatar à Corte os progressos em curso.

Foram contratados naturalistas em Minas Gerais, em Pernambuco, na Bahia e no Ceará. Em São Paulo, o governador Antônio Manuel de Melo Castro e Mendonça admitiu João Manso Pereira, um químico autodidata, versado em idiomas como grego, hebraico e francês e professor de gramática, envolvido em ampla gama de atividades. “Manso é um caso notável de autodidatismo que, sem nunca ter saído do Brasil, procurava estar atualizado com as novidades científicas que circulavam no exterior”, diz o historiador Alex Gonçalves Varela, pesquisador do Museu de Astronomia e Ciências Afins (Mast) e autor do livro Atividades científicas na “Bela e Bárbara” capitania de São Paulo (1796-1823) (Editora Annablume, 2009). O químico era inventor e publicou diversas memórias científicas, da reforma de alambiques e transporte de aguardente à construção de nitreiras para produzir salitre. Mas fracassou no projeto de instalação de uma fábrica de ferro. “Foi quando seu didatismo mostrou ter limites.”

Em 1803 foi nomeado para seu lugar Martim Francisco Ribeiro de Andrada e Silva pelo governador Antônio José de Franca e Horta. Irmão de José Bonifácio – que viria a ter papel relevante na história da Independência –, Martim era diferente de João Manso. Tinha uma formação acadêmica sólida, andou pela Europa e estudou na Universidade de Coimbra. Tradutor de obras científicas, fez numerosas viagens pelo território paulista e foi um difusor das ciências mineralógicas na época. “Ele seguia o conjunto de práticas científicas do período, ou seja, descrição, identificação e classificação dos minerais em seu local de ocorrência”, conta Varela. Anos mais tarde, Martim e Bonifácio realizaram juntos uma conhecida exploração pelo interior paulista (ver Pesquisa FAPESP edição 96).

João Manso, Martim e Bonifácio tinham em comum o conhecimento enciclopédico e uma forte ligação com a política do período. Martim chegou a ministro da Fazenda e participou do que ficou conhecido como “gabinete dos Andradas”, convidado pelo irmão, em 1822. De acordo com Varela, o trabalho científico dos três naturalistas foi de extrema relevância para ajudar o governo luso a conhecer de forma detalhada a capitania paulista e seus recursos naturais.

“A ciência e a técnica brasileira não é algo tão recente como se afirmava até meados dos anos 1980 e não passou a ser praticada aqui apenas depois que surgiram os institutos biomédicos no final do século XIX e começo do século XX”, afirma o historiador. “Há numerosos exemplos de homens ilustrados investigando a natureza, trabalhando com uma ciência utilitarista e produzindo conhecimento no período do Brasil Colônia.” Por fim, uma curiosidade: os termos naturalista e filósofo natural ainda são usados pelos historiadores para se referir aos homens de ciência da época porque a palavra cientista não existia até 1833. Naquele ano, ela foi utilizada pela primeira vez pelo polímata William Whewell, que criou o neologismo para se referir às pessoas presentes em uma reunião da Associação Britânica para o Avanço da Ciência.

>Society to review climate message

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By Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News
27 May 2010

The UK’s Royal Society is reviewing its public statements on climate change after 43 Fellows complained that it had oversimplified its messages.

They said the communications did not properly distinguish between what was widely agreed on climate science and what is not fully understood.

The society’s ruling council has responded by setting up a panel to produce a consensus document.

The panel should report in July and the report is to be published in September.

It is chaired by physicist John Pethica, vice-president of the Royal Society.

Its deliberations are reviewed by two critical sub-groups, each believed to comprise seven members.

Each of these groups contains a number of society Fellows who are doubtful in some way about the received view of the risks of rising CO2 levels.
Continue reading the main story

It’s not clear to me how we are going to get precise agreement on the wording – Review member

One panel member told me: “The timetable is very tough – one draft has already been rejected as completely inadequate.”

The review member said it might not be possible for the document to be agreed at all. “This is a very serious challenge to the way the society operates,” I was told. “In the past we have been able to give advice to governments as a society without having to seek consensus of all the members.

“There is very clear evidence that governments are right to be very worried about climate change. But in any society like this there will inevitably be people who disagree about anything – and my fear is that the society may become paralysed on this issue.”

Another review member told me: “The sceptics have been very strident and well-organised. It’s not clear to me how we are going to get precise agreement on the wording – we are scientists and we’re being asked to do a job of public communication that is more like journalism.”

But both members said they agreed that some of the previous communications of the organisation in the past were poorly judged.

Question everything

A Royal Society pamphlet Climate Change Controversies is the main focus of the criticism. A version of it is on the organisation’s website. It was written in response to attacks on mainstream science which the Royal Society considered scurrilous.

It reads: “This is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to every contentious argument that has been put forward by those who seek to distort and undermine the science of climate change…”

One Fellow who said he was not absolutely convinced of the dangers of CO2 told me: “This appears to suggest that anyone who questions climate science is malicious. But in science everything is there to be questioned – that should be the very essence of the Royal Society. Some of us were very upset about that.

“I can understand why this has happened – there is so much politically and economically riding on climate science that the society would find it very hard to say ‘well, we are still fairly sure that greenhouse gases are changing the climate’ but the politicians simply wouldn’t accept that level of honest doubt.”

Another society protester said he wanted to be called a climate agnostic rather than a sceptic. He said he wanted the society’s website to “do more to question the accuracy of the science on climate feedbacks” (in which a warming world is believed to make itself warmer still through natural processes).

“We sent an e-mail round our friends, mainly in physical sciences,” he said.

“Then when we had got 43 names we approached the council in January asking for the website entry on climate to be re-written. I don’t think they were very pleased. I don’t think this sort of thing has been done before in the history of the society.

“But we won the day, and the work is underway to re-write it. I am very hopeful that we will find a form of words on which we can agree.

“I know it looks like a tiny fraction of the total membership (1,314) but remember we only emailed our friends – we didn’t raise a general petition.”

Precautionary principle

He said the agnostics were also demanding a “more even-handed” bibliography.

The first “climate agnostic” also said he was angry at previous comments from the previous president Lord May who declared: “The debate on climate change is over.”

Lord May was once quoted as saying: “‘On one hand, you have the entire scientific community and on the other you have a handful of people, half of them crackpots.”

One source strongly criticised the remarks.

Lord May’s comments were made at a time when world scientists were reaching a consensus (not unanimity) that CO2 had warmed the planet and would probably warm it more – maybe dangerously so.

Lobbyists funded by the fossil fuel industry were fighting to undermine that consensus and science academies were concerned that public doubt might deter governments from taking precautionary action to reduce emissions of CO2.

Climate change doubters among the society’s Fellows say that in their anxiety to support government action, the academies failed to distinguish between “hired guns” and genuine scientific agnostics wanting to explore other potential causes of climate change.

The remit of the society panel is to produce a new public-facing document on what scientists know, what they think they know and which aspects they do not fully understand. The task is to make the document strong and robust.

It should answer the complaint that previous communications have failed to properly explain uncertainties in climate science.

Language of risk

At the Heartland Institute climate sceptics conference in Chicago, Richard Lindzen, professor of meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), criticised the current society president Lord Rees for what he described as exaggerating the certainty in a joint public letter with Ralph Cicerone, president of the US National Academy of Sciences.

The letter, published by the Financial Times newspaper, states: “Something unprecedented is now happening. The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is rising and climate change is occurring, both due to human actions…. Uncertainties in the future rate of (temperature) rise, stemming largely from the ‘feedback’ effects on water vapour and clouds, are topics of current research.”

Professor Lindzen says the “unprecedented” statement is misleading because neither the current warming nor the CO2 level are unprecedented. He complains that the statement on uncertainties is also misleading because it does not reveal that uncertainties about future climate projections are, in his view, immense.

A spokesman for the society defended the letter, saying that the rise in man-made CO2 was indeed unprecedented. But Professor Lindzen told me: “This is part of an inflation of a scientific position which has sadly become rather routine for spokesmen for scientific bodies.”

The forthcoming Royal Society publication – if it can be agreed by the review panel – will be scrutinised closely because the society carries huge weight in global science. Under Lord May it was prime mover of a joint letter of international academies stating that climate change was a major concern.

The comments from the current president Lord Rees in his first Reith lecture next week are rather carefully measured and couched in the language of risk rather than certainty – but even in this speech, critics are likely to say that in some particulars he does not sufficiently distinguish between what is certain and what is very widely believed.

>Naomi Oreskes on Merchants of Doubt (WNYC Radio)

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Science and Speech
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

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Naomi Oreskes reveals how a small but powerful group of scientists has managed to obscure the truth about issues from the dangers of smoking to the causes of climate change. And we’ll hear about the origins of the New York accent and how the accent is changing.

Anthropology and Climate Science Controversies

Brad Walters (Mount Allison U.)
Anthropology News (American Association of Anthropology), vol. 51(5):36-37 (May 2010)

Enormous research effort has been invested in the study of climate change. Many scientists reveled in the acclaim that followed last-year’s awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This year, some of these same scientists have faced an onslaught of criticism as a result of a few mistakes found in published reports of the IPCC and leaked emails from an eminent, UK-based science group that revealed an all-too-human side of the scientific endeavor (so-called “climate-gate”).

The editors of the pre-eminent science journal Nature commented that these supposedly explosive revelations would be laughable were it not for their policy consequences. Like many, they recognize that the real scandal has little to do with climate change science, but everything to do with its political ramifications.

The scientific consensus on climate change is rock solid on the most critical issues: greenhouse gas emissions from human activity are now warming the earth’s climate at a rate that is extremely rapid by historical and recent geological standards and this poses increasingly serious risks our well being (Union of Concerned Scientists, March 2010, “U.S. scientists and economists’ call for swift and deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions,” http://www.ucsusa.org). The evidence for this general conclusion is so broad, diverse and compelling that virtually no reputable scientist doubts it.

Yet, large swaths of the American public and many opinion leaders continue to doubt the reality of climate change. A major reason for this is that the controversies over the credibility of climate science are to a large degree intentionally contrived by people and organizations with vested interests in the economic status-quo and fear of government regulation, particularly members of the oil, gas and coal industries. What we are witnessing today, according to authors James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore (Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming) and George Monbiot (Heat), is a similar but much more ambitious replay of the tobacco industries’ campaign in the 1980s and 1990s to sew doubt about the scientific consensus on the health risks of smoking. These climate deniers understand what many social scientists do: where there is uncertainty in the minds of the electorate, the political cost of inaction falls while the cost of decisive action rises.

These climate controversies raise intriguing questions for anthropologists who may have interests in issues of public knowledge formation, risk perception, and the application of expert and non-expert knowledge in policy making. But, what motivated me to write this column is a different question: do many anthropologists also not trust the credibility of the scientific “experts” on the matter of climate change?

I came to this question as a result of recent exchanges on the Environmental Anthropology (E-Anth) List-serve that revealed a far less solid consensus on the matter than is found within the mainstream climate science community, which is dominated by natural scientists. Specifically, postings by some list members revealed a surprising lack of trust in the credibility of scientific bodies like the IPCC and the National Academy of Sciences. Even more troubling was their referencing of scientifically un-credible sources—climate skeptics’ blogs, for example—as the basis for their opinions on the status of climate science.

Anthropologists are not alone in having within their ranks credentialed scientists who espouse views on climate change that are totally unsupportable in any reasonable scientific sense. But is it possible that anthropologists are particularly vulnerable to this kind of anti-scientific way of thinking about the issue? Has the disciplines’ deep emersion in subjects like the social construction of knowledge produced social scientists with so little trust and respect for the work of natural scientists that they won’t (or can’t!) distinguish between peer-reviewed research and politically-motivated blog postings?

There is a point reached—and we are now well passed it in climate science—where theoretical arguments and empirical evidence are so overwhelmingly compelling that positions contrary to the scientific consensus are simply untenable. Perhaps it is time for the AAA to step-up as a body and officially state their position on this most critical of issues.

>The Climategate Chronicle (Spiegel Online)

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How the Science of Global Warming Was Compromised

By Axel Bojanowski
14 May 2010 – Spiegel Online

To what extent is climate change actually occuring? Late last year, climate researchers were accused of exaggerating study results. SPIEGEL ONLINE has since analyzed the hacked “Climategate” e-mails and provided insights into one of the most unprecedented spats in recent scientific history.

Is our planet warming up by 1 degree Celsius, 2 degrees, or more? Is climate change entirely man made? And what can be done to counteract it? There are myriad possible answers to these questions, as well as scientific studies, measurements, debates and plans of action. Even most skeptics now concede that mankind — with its factories, heating systems and cars — contributes to the warming up of our atmosphere.

But the consequences of climate change are still hotly contested. It was therefore something of a political bombshell when unknown hackers stole more than 1,000 e-mails written by British climate researchers, and published some of them on the Internet. A scandal of gigantic proportions seemed about to break, and the media dubbed the affair “Climategate” in reference to the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of US President Richard Nixon. Critics claimed the e-mails would show that climate change predictions were based on unsound calculations.

Although a British parliamentary inquiry soon confirmed that this was definitely not a conspiracy, the leaked correspondence provided in-depth insight into the mechanisms, fronts and battles within the climate-research community. SPIEGEL ONLINE has analyzed the more than 1,000 Climategate e-mails spanning a period of 15 years, e-mails that are freely available over the Internet and which, when printed out, fill five thick files. What emerges is that leading researchers have been subjected to sometimes brutal attacks by outsiders and become bogged down in a bitter and far-reaching trench war that has also sucked in the media, environmental groups and politicians.

SPIEGEL ONLINE reveals how the war between climate researchers and climate skeptics broke out, the tricks the two sides used to outmaneuver each other and how the conflict could be resolved.

Part 2: From Staged Scandal to the Kyoto Triumph

The fronts in the climate debate have long been etched in the sand. On the one side there is a handful of highly influential climate researchers, on the other a powerful lobby of industrial associations determined to trivialize the dangers of global warming. This latter group is supported by the conservative wing of the American political spectrum, conspiracy theorists as well as critical scientists.

But that alone would not suffice to divide the roles so neatly into good and evil. Most climate researchers were somewhere between the two extremes. They often had difficulty drawing clear conclusions from their findings. After all, scientific facts are often ambiguous. Although it is generally accepted that there is good evidence to back forecasts of coming global warming, there is still considerable uncertainty about the consequences it will have.

Both sides — the leading climate researchers on the one hand and their opponents in industry and smaller groups of naysayers on the other — played hardball from the very beginning. It all started in 1986, when German physicists issued a dramatic public appeal, the first of its kind. They warned about what they saw as a “climatic disaster.” However, their avowed goal was to promote nuclear power over carbon dioxide-belching coal-fired power stations.

The First Scandal

At the time, there was certainly clear scientific evidence of a dangerous increase in temperatures, prompting the United Nations to form the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988 to look into the matter. However, the idea didn’t take hold in the United States until the country was hit by an unusually severe drought in the summer of 1988. Politicians in Congress used the dry spell to listen to NASA scientist James Hansen, who had been publishing articles in trade journals for years warning about the threat of man-made climate change.

When Washington instructed Hansen to put more emphasis on the uncertainties in his theory, Senator and later Vice President Al Gore cried foul. Gore notified the media about the government’s alleged attempted cover-up, forcing the government’s hand on the matter.

The oil companies reacted with alarm and forged alliances with companies in other sectors who were worried about a possible rise in the price of fossil fuels. They even managed to rope in a few shrewd climate researchers like Patrick Michaels of the University of Virginia.

The aim of the industrial lobby was to focus as much as possible on the doubts about the scientific findings. According to a strategy paper by the Global Climate Science Team, a crude-oil lobby group, “Victory will be achieved when average citizens recognize uncertainties in climate science.” In the meantime, scientists found themselves on the defensive, having to convince the public time and again that their warnings were indeed well-founded.

Industrial Propaganda for the ‘Less Educated’

A dangerous dynamic had been set in motion: Any climate researcher who expressed doubts about findings risked playing into the hands of the industrial lobby. The leaked e-mails show how leading scientists reacted to the PR barrage by the so-called “skeptics lobby.” Out of fear that their opponents could take advantage of ambiguous findings, many researchers tried to simply hide the weaknesses of their findings from the public.

The lobby spent millions on propaganda campaigns. In 1991, the Information Council on the Environment (ICE) issued a strategy paper aimed at what it called “less-educated people.” This proposed a campaign that would “reposition global warming as a theory (not fact).” However, the skeptics also wanted to address better educated sectors of society. The Global Climate Coalition, for example, an alliance of energy companies, specifically tried to influence UN delegates. The advice of skeptical scientists was also given considerable credence in the US Congress.

Nonetheless, the lobbyists had less success on the international stage. In 1997, the international community agreed on the first-ever climate protection treaty: the Kyoto Protocol. “Scientists had issued a warning, the media amplified it and the politicians reacted,” recalls Peter Weingart, a science sociologist at Bielefeld University in Germany, who researched the climate debate.

But just as numerous industrial firms began to acknowledge the need for climate protection and left the Global Climate Coalition, some scientists began getting too cozy with environmental organizations.

Part 3: How Climate Researchers Plotted with Interest Groups

Even before the UN climate conference in Kyoto in 1997, environmentalist groups and leading climate researchers began joining forces to put pressure on industry and politicians. In August 1997, Greenpeace sent a letter to The Times newspaper in London, appealing on behalf of British researchers. All the climatologists had to do was sign on the dotted line. In October of that year, other climate researchers — ostensibly acting on behalf of the World Wildlife Fund, or WWF — e-mailed hundreds of colleagues calling on them to sign an appeal to the politicians in connection with the Kyoto conference.

The tactic was controversial. Whereas German scientists immediately put their names on the list, others had their doubts. In a leaked e-mail dated Nov. 25, 1997, renowned American paleoclimatologist Tom Wigley told a colleague he was worried that such appeals were almost as “dishonest ” as the propaganda employed by the skeptics’ lobby. Personal views, Wigley said, should not be confused with scientific facts.

Researchers ‘Beef Up’ Appeals by Environmental Groups
 
Wigley’s calls fell on deaf ears, and many of his colleagues unthinkingly fell in line with the environmental lobby. Asked to comment by WWF, climate researchers in Australia and Britain, for example, made particularly pessimistic predictions. What’s more, the experts said they had been fully aware that the WWF wanted to have the warnings “beefed up,” as it had stated in an e-mail dated July 1999. One Australian climatologist wrote to colleagues on July 28, 1999, that he would be “very concerned” if environmental protection literature contained data that might suggest “large areas of the world will have negligible climate change.”

Two years later, German climate researchers at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and from the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology also drew up a position paper together with WWF. Germany’s Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy scientific research institute was a pioneer in this respect. It was very open about working together with the environmental group BUND, the German chapter of Friends of the Earth, in developing climate protection strategy recommendations in the mid-1990s.

Part 4: Industry and Researchers Fight for Media Supremacy

From then on, the battle was all about dominance of the media. The media are often accused of giving climate-change skeptics too much attention. Indeed theories that cast doubt over global warming with little scientific backing regularly appeared in the press. These included so-called “information brochures” sent to journalists by oil industry lobbyists.

This is partly because the US media, in particular, are extremely keen to ensure what they see as balanced reporting — in other words, giving both sides in a debate a chance to air their views. This has meant that even more outlandish theories by climate-change skeptics have been given just as much airtime as the findings of established experts.

Media researchers believe the phenomenon of newsworthiness is another reason why anti-climate-change theories are reported so widely. The more unambiguous the warnings about an impending disaster, the more interesting critical viewpoints become. The media debate about the issue also focused on the potentially scandalous question of whether climatologists had speculated about nightmare scenarios simply in order to obtain access to research grants.

Renowned climate researcher Klaus Hasselmann of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology rebuffed these accusations in a much-quoted article in the German newspaper Die Zeit in 1997. Hasselmann pointed out that scientific findings suggest that there is an extremely high likelihood that man was indeed responsible for climate change. “If we wait until the very last doubts have been overcome, it will be too late to do anything about it,” he wrote.

‘Climatologists Tend Not to Mention their More Extreme Suspicions’
 
Hasselmann blamed the media for all the hype. In fact, sociologists have identified “one-up debates” in the media in which darker and darker pictures were painted of the possible consequences of global warming. “Many journalists don’t want to hear about uncertainty in the research findings,” Max Planck Institute researcher Martin Claussen complains. Sociologist Peter Weingart criticizes not just journalists but also scientists. “Climatologists tend not to mention their more extreme suspicions,” he bemoans.
Whereas the debate flared up time and again in the US, “the skeptics in Germany were quickly marginalized again,” recalls sociologist Hans Peter Peters of the Forschungszentrum Jülich research center, who analyzed climate-related reporting in Germany. Peters believes that the communication strategy of leading researchers has proven successful in the long run. “The announced climate problem has been taken seriously by the media,” he says. He even sees signs of a “strong alignment of scientists and journalists in reporting about climate change.”

Nonetheless, scientists have tried to apply pressure on the media if they disagreed with the way stories were reported. Editorial offices have been inundated with protest letters whenever news stories said that the dangers of runaway climate change appeared to be diminishing. E-mails show that climate researchers coordinated their protests, targeting specific journalists to vent their fury on. For instance, when an article entitled “What Happened to Global Warming?” appeared on the BBC website in October 2009, British scientists first discussed the matter among themselves by e-mail before demanding that an apparently balanced editor explain what was going on.

Social scientists are well aware that good press can do wonders for a person’s career. David Philips, a sociologist at the University of San Diego, suggests that the battle for supremacy in the mass media is not only a means to mobilize public support, but also a great way to gain kudos within the scientific community.

Part 5: Scientific Opinion Becomes Entrenched

The leaked e-mails show that some researchers use tactics that are every bit as ruthless as those employed by critics outside the scientific community. Under attack from global-warming skeptics, the climatologists took to the barricades. Indeed, the criticism only seemed to increase the scientists’ resolve. And worried that any uncertainties in their findings might be pounced upon, the scientists desperately tried to conceal such uncertainties.

“Don’t leave anything for the skeptics to cling on to,” wrote renowned British climatologist Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia (UEA) in a leaked e-mail dated Oct. 4, 2000. Jones, who heads UEA’s Climate Research Unit (CRU), is at the heart of the e-mail scandal. But there have always been plenty of studies that critics could quote because the research findings continue to be ambiguous.

At times scientists have been warned by their own colleagues that they may be playing into the enemy’s hands. Kevin Trenberth from the National Center for Atmospheric Research in the US, for example, came under enormous pressure from oil-producing nations while he was drawing up the IPCC’s second report in 1995. In January 2001, he wrote an e-mail to his colleague John Christy at the University of Alabama complaining that representatives from Saudi Arabia had quoted from one of Christy’s studies during the negotiations over the third IPCC climate report. “We are under no gag rule to keep our thoughts to ourselves,” Christy replied.

‘Effective Long-Term Strategies’
 
Paleoclimatologist Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University also tried to rein in his colleagues. In an e-mail dated Sept. 17, 1998, he urged them to form a “united front” in order to be able to develop “effective long-term strategies.” Paleoclimatologists try to reconstruct the climate of the past. Their primary source of data is found in old tree trunks whose annual rings give clues about the weather in years gone by.

No one knows better than the researchers themselves that tree data can be very unreliable, and an exchange of e-mails shows that they discussed the problems at length. Even so, meaningful climate reconstructions can be made if the data are analyzed carefully. The only problem is that you get different climate change graphs depending on which data you use.

Mann and his colleagues were pioneers in this field. They were the first to draw up a graph of average temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere over the past 1,000 years. That is indisputably an impressive achievement. Because of its shape, his diagram was dubbed the “hockey stick graph.” According to this, the climate changed little for about 850 years, then temperatures rose dramatically (the blade of the stick). However, a few years later, it turned out that the graph was not as accurate as first assumed.

‘I’d Hate to Give It Fodder’
 
In 1999, CRU chief Phil Jones and fellow British researcher Keith Briffa drew up a second climate graph. Perhaps not surprisingly, this led to a row between the two groups about which graph should be published in the summary for politicians at the front of the IPCC report.

The hockey stick graph was appealing on account of its convincing shape. After all, the unique temperature rise of the last 150 years appeared to provide clear proof of man’s influence on our climate. But Briffa cautioned about overestimating the significance of the hockey stick. In an e-mail to his colleagues in September 1999, Briffa said that Mann’s graph “should not be taken as read,” even though it presented “a nice tidy story.”

In contrast to Mann et al’s hockey stick, Briffa’s graph contained a warm period in the High Middle Ages. “I believe that the recent warmth was probably matched about 1,000 years ago,” he wrote. Fortunately for the researchers, the hefty dispute that followed was quickly defused when they realized they were better served by joining forces against the common

. Climate-change skeptics use Briffa’s graph to cast doubt over the assertion that man’s activities have affected our climate. They claim that if our atmosphere is as warm now as it was in the Middle Ages — when there was no man-made pollution — carbon dioxide emissions can’t possibly be responsible for the rise in temperatures.

“I don’t think that doubt is scientifically justified, and I’d hate to be the one to have to give it fodder,” Mann wrote to his colleagues. The tactic proved a successful one. Mann’s hockey stick graph ended up at the front of the UN climate report of 2001. In fact it became the report’s defining element.

An Innocent Phrase Seized by Republicans
 
In order to get unambiguous graphs, the researchers had to tweak their data slightly. In probably the most infamous of the Climategate e-mails, Phil Jones wrote that he had used Mann’s “trick” to “hide the decline” in temperatures. Following the leaking of the e-mails, the expression “hide the decline” was turned into a song about the alleged scandal and seized upon by Republican politicians in the US, who quoted it endlessly in an attempt to discredit the climate experts.

But what appeared at first glance to be fraud was actually merely a face-saving fudge: Tree-ring data indicates no global warming since the mid-20th century, and therefore contradicts the temperature measurements. The clearly erroneous tree data was thus corrected by the so-called “trick” with the temperature graphs.

The row grew more and more bitter as the years passed, as the leaked e-mails between researchers shows. Since the late 1990s, several climate-change skeptics have repeatedly asked Jones and Mann for their tree-ring data and calculation models, citing the legal right to access scientific data.

‘I Think I’ll Delete the File’
 
In 2003, mineralogist Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick published a paper that highlighted systematic errors in the statistics underlying the hockey stick graph. However Michael Mann rejected the paper, which he saw as part of a “highly orchestrated, heavily funded corporate attack campaign,” as he wrote in September 2009.

More and more, Mann and his colleagues refused to hand out their data to “the contrarians,” as skeptical researchers were referred to in a number of e-mails. On Feb. 2, 2005, Jones went so far as to write, “I think I’ll delete the file rather than send it to anyone.”

Today, Mann defends himself by saying his university has looked into the e-mails and decided that he had not suppressed data at any time. However, an inquiry conducted by the British parliament came to a very different conclusion. “The leaked e-mails appear to show a culture of non-disclosure at CRU and instances where information may have been deleted to avoid disclosure,” the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Committee announced in its findings on March 31.

Sociologist Peter Weingart believes that the damage could be irreparable. “A loss of credibility is the biggest risk inherent in scientific communication,” he said, adding that trust can only be regained through complete transparency.

Part 6: From Deserved Reputations to Illegitimate Power

The two sides became increasingly hostile toward one another. They debated about whom they could trust, who was a part of their “team” — and who among them might secretly be a skeptic. All those who were between the two extremes or even tried to maintain links with both sides soon found themselves under suspicion.

This distrust helped foster a system of favoritism, as the hacked e-mails show. According to these, Jones and Mann had a huge influence over what was published in the trade press. Those who controlled the journals also controlled what entered the public arena — and therefore what was perceived as scientific reality.

All journal articles are checked anonymously by colleagues before publication as part of what is known as the “peer review” process. Behind closed doors, researchers complained for years that Mann, who is a sought-after reviewer, acted as a kind of “gatekeeper” in relation to magazine articles on paleoclimatology. It’s well-known that renowned scientists can gain influence within journals. But it’s a risky business. “The danger that deserved reputations become illegitimate power is the greatest risk that science faces,” Weingart says.

From Peer Review to Connivance
 
In an e-mail to SPIEGEL ONLINE, Mann rejected the claims that he exercised undue influence. He said the editors of scientific journals — not he — chose the reviewers. However, as Weingart points out, in specialist areas like paleoclimatology, which have only a handful of experts, certain scientists can gain considerable power — provided they have a good connection to the publishers of the relevant journals.

The “hockey team,” as the group around Mann and Jones liked to call itself, undoubtedly had good connections to the journals. The colleagues coordinated and discussed their reviews among themselves. “Rejected two papers from people saying CRU has it wrong over Siberia,” CRU head Jones wrote to Mann in March 2004. The articles he was referring to were about tree data from Siberia, a basis of the climate graphs. In fact, it later turned out that Jones’ CRU group probably misinterpreted the Siberian data, and the findings of the study rejected by Jones in March 2004 were actually correct.

However, Jones and Mann had the backing of the majority of the scientific community in another case. A study published in Climate Research in 2003 looked into findings on the current warm period and the medieval one, concluding that the 20th century was “probably not the warmest nor a uniquely extreme climactic period of the last millennium.” Although climate skeptics were thrilled, most experts thought the study was methodologically flawed. But if the pro-climate-change camp controlled the peer review process, then why was it ever published?

Plugging the Leak
 
In an e-mail dated March 11, 2003, Michael Mann said there was only one possibility: Skeptics had taken over the journal. He therefore demanded that the enemy be stopped in its tracks. The “hockey team” launched a powerful counterattack that shook Climate Research magazine to its foundations. Several of its editors resigned. Vociferous as they were, though, the skeptics did not have that much influence. If it turned out that alarmist climate studies were flawed — and this was the case on several occasions — the consequences of the climate catastrophe would not be as dire as had been predicted.

Yet there were also limits to the influence had by Mann and Jones, as became apparent in 2005, when relentless hockey stick critics Ross McKitrick and Stephen McIntyre were able to publish studies in the most important geophysical journal, Geophysical Research Letters (GRL). “Apparently, the contrarians now have an ‘in’ with GRL,” Mann wrote to his colleagues in a leaked e-mail. “We can’t afford to lose GRL.”

Mann discovered that one of the editors of GRL had once worked at the same university as the feared climate skeptic Patrick Michaels. He therefore put two and two together: “I think we now know how various papers have gotten published in GRL,” he wrote on January 20, 2005. At the same time, the scientists discussed how to get rid of GRL editor James Saiers, himself a climate researcher. Saiers quit his post a year later — allegedly of his own accord. “The GRL leak may have been plugged up now,” a relieved Mann wrote in an e-mail to the “hockey team.”

Internal Conflict and the External Façade
 
Climategate appears to confirm the criticism that scientific systems always benefit cartels. However, Sociologist Hans Peter Peters cautions against over-interpreting the affair. He says alliances are commonplace in every area of the scientific world. “Internal communication within all groups differs from the facade,” Peters says.

Weingart also believes the inner workings of a group should not be judged by the criteria of the outside world. After all, controversy is the very basis of science, and “demarcation and personal conflict are inevitable.” Even so, he says the extent to which camps have built up in climate research is certainly unusual.

Part 7: Conclusive Proof Is Impossible

Weingart says the political ramifications only fuelled the battle between the two sides in the global warming debate. He believes that the more an issue is politicized, the deeper the rifts between opposing stances.

Immense public scrutiny made life extremely difficult for the scientists. On May 2, 2001, paleoclimatologist Edward Cook of the Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory complained in an e-mail: “This global change stuff is so politicized by both sides of the issue that it is difficult to do the science in a dispassionate environment.” The need to summarize complex findings for a UN report appears only to have exacerbated the problem. “I tried hard to balance the needs of the science and the IPCC, which were not always the same,” Keith Briffa wrote in 2007. Max Planck researcher Martin Claussen says too much emphasis was put on consensus in an attempt to satisfy politicians’ demands.

And even scientists are not always interested solely in the actual truth of the matter. Weingart notes that public debate is mostly “only superficially about enlightenment.” Rather, it is more about “deciding on and resolving conflicts through general social agreement.” That’s why it helps to present unambiguous findings.

The Time for Clear Answers Is Over
 
However, it seems all but impossible to provide conclusive proof in climate research. Scientific philosopher Silvio Funtovicz foresaw this dilemma as early as 1990. He described climate research as a “postnormal science.” On account of its high complexity, he said it was subject to great uncertainty while, at the same time, harboring huge risks.

The experts therefore face a dilemma: They have little chance of giving the right advice. If they don’t sound the alarm, they are accused of not fulfilling their moral obligations. However, alarmist predictions are criticized if the predicted changes fail to materialize quickly.

Climatological findings will probably remain ambiguous even if further progress is made. Weingart says it’s now up to scientists and society to learn to come to terms with this. In particular, he warns, politicians must understand that there is no such thing as clear results. “Politicians should stop listening to scientists who promise simple answers,” Weingart says.

Translated from the German by Jan Liebelt

A colorful oracle: A visitor watches an animation demonstrating oceanic acidity levels at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

Red colors equals a warmer future: Climate prognoses forecast a noticeable warming of the planet if greenhouse-gas emissions are not curtailed.

Several climate researchers are calling for the resignation of Rajendra Pachauri, a Nobel Peace Prize winner and chairman of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, because he took too long to acknowledge that the panel published inaccurate research on climate change.

The German Climate Computing Center (DKRZ) in Hamburg uses supercomputers to predict future climates.