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Politicians Abandon Science, Community Abandons Politicians

By Ian Lowe

Should we trust bureaucrats more than elected politicans or scientists to make decisions about new technologies?

Ian Lowe is Emeritus Professor of Science, Technology and Society at Griffith University.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Science and technology featured prominently at the Adelaide Ideas Festival in October. Former Chief Scientist Penny Sackett delivered the opening address, and then discussed the issues she raised with broadcaster Philip Adams, immunologist Peter Doherty and local science educator Barbara Hardy, to whom the festival was dedicated. The session was recorded, so the plea for rational debate and proper attention to science reached a wider audience than the group packed into Adelaide Town Hall.

The National Enabling Technologies Task Force also ran its annual public event as a special session of the festival. In the wonderful old Exchange Building, which now houses the Royal Institution, a series of panels faced the public to discuss emerging technologies.

It was a chance for the community to have their say. Not surprisingly, there were mixed views about the feasibility of low-carbon cities, the acceptability of synthetic meat and the consequences of our increasing capacity to replace body parts as they wear out.

I was on the panel considering low-emission cities. While there was general support for clean energy supply systems and better public transport, there was less enthusiasm for the suggestion that future cities might grow genetically modified crops on the sides of buildings! There is clearly a high level of community suspicion about the general...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.