Friday, September 28, 2007

The "technology-based" approach

Politics today seems a lot like marketing without the free samples. The Bush Administration has elevated the political "branding" to an entirely new level - I'll let the reader decide whether it be considered a low or a high - whether it be the rather Orwell-ian naming of the major pieces of legislation, like the Healthy Forests Initiative, which supported logging on national lands, and the Clear Skies Initiative, which rolled back amendments from the Clean Air Act, to name just two, or the less formal labeling of policies like the "surge".

Everyone involved at some level in public policy has one example they love to mock. Remember the Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism? That was the New Coke of the War on Terror, a moniker test-marketed in a variety of public addresses in the summer of 2005. It didn’t take. Government officials quickly reverted to the original formula.

At the various climate meeting and photo-ops this week, there was increasing mention of the Bush Administration's "technology-based" approach to climate change, something that began in earnest at the APEC summit. It is a careful exercise in branding. The Bush Administration is attempting to link technological solutions to climate change with its adherence to voluntary, non-binding, or "aspirational" emissions targets.

This is setting up a dangerous, false dichotomy: pitting the "technology-based" Bush approach vs. the economy-crushing emissions targets, falsely implying the proponents of hard emissions targets are suggested we get there without the use of technology, when in fact the entire purpose of the emissions targets is to force the development of cleaner energy technologies.

Let's not be fooled by this.

1 comment:

John Mashey said...

Just out of curiosity, what has Bush actually done so far to promote good science and technology?

I'm having a hard time thinking of anything, but maybe that's just me.