Monday, October 15, 2012

Contextualizing Beck's Theses

Reading the Beck and then the PNAS article was incredibly telling of how risk operates in societies where there is a great focus on knowledge and the social and how these two entities interact. Beck discusses how modernization brings risk from the personal to the global as societies overproduce to a point beyond their control and onto a global field of potential consequence. The collapse of time and space also seemed to be particularly relevant in the case of global warming. Because this now global risk is effecting generations into the future as well as points of focus thousands of miles away from origin, the risk is beyond perception. Contextualizing global warming to the globe as a whole is an impossible task when the effects and escape sensory perception and the knowledge of the risks are within high structures of power. Because global warming ignores borders and social classes, it almost becomes more politicized in the West. Those in the West with knowledge of the potentiality of danger that comes with global warming turn to science to generate digestible information for the public, but this knowledge also gains political traction within circles that are affected by the expanding knowledge about global warming. Scientific research and science in general become politicized and the ability to calculate risk collapses. Global warming becomes (and is still becoming) socially defined and constructed to the point where its effects become a topic of debate and a myth in the public sphere.

The global nature of climate change also allows for the creation of the international inequalities that Beck mentions. How does scientific debate occur in countries where potentially effected industries either dominate or are non-existent? How objective can science really be when the interests of both nation and globe are being considered? I'm still having trouble figuring out Beck's third thesis concerning the economics of risk. How does global warming create a "barrel of demands" on a global scale? I can see how global warming becomes "commercialized and diffused," but does the consequent "barrel of demands" create a perception of progress and also regression? And how would developing countries' demands arise?

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