Hacking away at sustainability: Science, ideology and cynical blockage
In 2009 sustainability took some major hits. At the UN Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, no agreement was reached over reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Nor was there any discussion about reductions that would keep climate change within “safe limits”. Add to this “climategate” where the hacked emails of climate scientists in the UK revealed problematic data showing declining global temperatures had been deleted to avoid fuelling skepticism, and sustainability appears a stalled project. However, this position has to be reconciled with sustainability being perhaps the most prominent key word of policy initiatives both sides of the Atlantic. We therefore have the paradox of growing emissions levels and a deadlock over agreements to control them, standing alongside the widespread adoption and support of sustainability initiatives. This paper seeks to explain this situation by arguing sustainability is necessarily an ideological project; something we must believe in doing, even in the context of events like “climategate”. By positioning sustainability as ideological, it is therefore necessary to confront the relationship between climate science and ideology, examine the status of ideology in today's post-ideological times and consider the politics of climate change's universal threat to human civilization. As the paper proceeds through these issues, it is suggested that stemming ecological crisis will likely require (re)discovering a mode of politics not currently evident in sustainability debates.
Human Geography(United Kingdom)
climategate, cynicism, ideology, master signifier, post-politics, science, sustainability
Davidson, Mark, "Hacking away at sustainability: Science, ideology and cynical blockage" (2010). Geography. 124.