It has often struck me how odd it is that, although a number of continental philosophers have tried to unmask the hidden political dimensions of the natural and social sciences, these philosophers today seem to be silent about the politics of climate science.
If we now habitually, after Foucault, view 'knowledge' as associated with strategies for displining and normalising populations, how is it that climate science seems immune from such suspicions? Might climate science be an integral element in a new power-knowledge regime that is intent on make us 'demand less' in an age of diminshing resources?
This was the subject of a recent paper by Prof Tim Luke of Virgina Tech. Prof Luke argued that climate science is integral to a new governmental discourse of sustainability that is supporting a new model of government centred around the 'de-carbonisation' of economic life. Just as psychiatry was involved in the re-egineering of the psyche, climate science is advocating a re-engineering of the natural world. Prof Luke gave a list of recent proposals by climate science to re-engineer nature in just this way. One memorable example was the proposal to build thousands of artifical trees to take CO2 out of the atmosphere. Another was to increase the relectivity of the earth by sending giant mirrors into space.
Of course, to make such critical points is not to say that ecology is unimportant of that nature does not possess 'intrinsic value'. It simply means that we should explore the tacit politics of a new form of science that claims certainty in a situation where the amount of reliable data is really quite small, and seems to provide the state with a new form of bio-political control over the planetary ecosystem.