When Poststructural Theory and Contemporary Politics Collide—The Vexed Case of Global Warming

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Abstract:

Policy debate about global warming has been framed in the public sphere in the manner of most political topics, as a matter of “skeptics” and “supporters,” making it very difficult for many US publics to know what to believe. This essay critically reads a preeminent public policy debate—that of global warming—with a twofold purpose. I first array the extensive commercial and political efforts to manipulate public information about global warming in order to illustrate that this debate is a “disingenuous” or “pseudo-controversy,” which can be seen in the asymmetrical resources, motives, and authority behind the scenes. Second, I ask what institutional and discursive conditions have enabled this moment, in which the ideals of academic freedom and protocols of scientific inquiry hold precarious authority in the public arena, and argue that contemporary critical perspectives on knowledge and truth have been co-opted in public discourse, making it more difficult to intervention in commercial and political efforts to obfuscate and mislead US publics.

Keywords: Democracy; Global Warming; Information; Knowledge; Truth

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14791420903049736

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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