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Policy advocate, or human being?
I hope this [forthcoming IPCC] report will shock people, governments into taking more serious action as you really can't get a more authentic and a more credible piece of scientific work.
from Rajendra Pachauri, the IPCC director.
I commented over there that his accusations of some sort of hypocrisy rest entirely on the assumption that everyone shares his definitions and I do not think that most people consider statements like "we should take serious action" to be advocating a policy at all.
Quite rightly Roger asked me how I would define "policy neutral". So, because I wrote a lengthy reply to that and would like to keep it handy, I thought I would reproduce it here. ("You" refers to Roger, of course)
I daresay "policy neutral" is one of those concepts where the only possible comprehensive definitions for it in its most abstract meaning render it a useless term. That is to say, the purest definition - having no preferences for any policy over any other and even no preference for any goals or set of goals over any other - is one that no living breathing human being could conceivably subscribe to. It requires having no values, no aspirations, no ethics.
So to avoid defining such a term out of a useful existence, policy neutral can only have meaning within a specific context. For example, if you are sitting at a meeting and there are five proposed policy options on the table and you have no preference of one over any other, you are policy neutral within this context.Now, of coures, the five that were on the table must have come from somewhere, but to be policy neutral, and human, you must already be looking at a limited set of options.
So let me try to bring this into its specific context here. I believe that one can be policy neutral even though they believe that climate change is an urgent problem that needs to be dealt with. Someone could be policy neutral because they have no particular convictions about how addressing climate change should be done: nuclear energy, CO2 sequestration, drastic lifestyle changes, combinations of approaches, etc.
I believe that I am not alone in thinking this way, and in fact it is you who need to "come to grips" with what others mean by policy neutral. The way you have defined and use this term (I have no doubt that it is consistent with your field's usage btw) means that the simple desire to avoid large scale human suffering makes you a policy advocate.
This is really splitting semantic horsehairs while the fossil fuels burn.
I am sure I will be following up on that over there...