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Edited by Michael R. Redclift and Graham Woodgate
Chapter 14: Science and the Environment in the Twenty-first Century
Steven Yearley Introduction According to Simon Caldwell of the popular right-leaning UK newspaper The Daily Mail – drawing on advance information about the pontiff’s message for the New Year’s ‘World Day of Peace’ for 2008 – the Pope ‘said that while some concerns [over climate change] may be valid it was vital that the international community based its policies on science rather than the dogma of the environmentalist movement’ (Daily Mail, 13 December 2007). Although the disinterested observer might find many aspects of Caldwell’s exegetical work on the Pope’s text rather odd,1 the most interesting point here is that The Daily Mail lauds the Pope for putting science first when thinking about climate change. Earlier in 2007, former US Vice President Al Gore had shared the Nobel Peace Prize and seen his film on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth, win two Academy Awards. If even the Pope – presumably still an enthusiast for dogma in many areas of life – thinks we should put science before dogma when it comes to the environment, and if a right-wing newspaper praises him for thinking this, while at the same time left-liberal Al Gore successfully draws the world’s attention to inconvenient facts underscored by scientific research, then there might appear to be a broad consensus about the relationship between science and the environment in the twenty-first century. But as soon as one reads further into Caldwell’s piece, one realizes that the world has not grown eerily harmonious. The dogma that The Daily Mail columnist was seeking...
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