The worrying rise of anti-democratic sentiments amongst climate scientists


In his latest essay Climate Policy: Democracy is not an inconvenience, Professor Nico Stehr – founding director of the European Center for Sustainability Research – reflects on the growing number of climate scientists who are not only expressing their impatience with Western democracies, but openly practise their sympathy for authoritarian political approaches.

“Scientific disenchantment with democracy has slipped under the radar of many social scientists and commentators”, he says, but “attention is urgently needed”. In concentrating only on a reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions, the calls for technocratic leadership fail to acknowledge that “environmental concerns are tightly entangled with other political, economic and cultural issues”. In his view, “scientific knowledge is neither immediately performative nor persuasive” and it is “only a democratic system (that) can sensitively attend to the conflicts within and among nations and communities, decide between different policies, and generally advance the aspirations of different segments of the population.”

The full essay can be found on the Nature website.

Image: CC by 2.0, courtesy of  NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/

One Comment

Robert Seddon

I should think that vocal yearning for authoritatian/technocratic governance would reinforce public scepticism about the yearner’s position. Since everyone has heard that power corrupts, people won’t fall over themselves to put faith in the promise of a modern Cincinnatus.


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