Along with Björn-Ola Linnér of Linköping University, I’ve completed a draft of a new paper titled “The Green Revolution and Political Myth.” It has been a long time in the drafting and we expect to submit soon after the new year.
Here is a sneak peak at the abstract:
The Green Revolution and Political Myth
Roger Pielke Jr. and Björn-Ola Linnér
12 December 2017
This paper investigates the so-called “Green Revolution” as political myth, which refers to beliefs, actions and symbols that we use to make sense of the world. Political myth, among other functions, creates a narrative structure that characterizes causality between policy action and outcome. One aspect of the political myth of the Green Revolution is a story of averted famine: in the 1950s and 1960s scientists predicted a global crisis to emerge in the 1970s and beyond created by a rapidly growing global population. Technological innovation in agricultural productivity led to increasing crop yields which led to more food being produced, and the crisis being averted. The fact that the world did not experience a global famine in the 1970s is cited as evidence in support of the narrative. Political myths need not necessarily be supported by evidence, but to the extent that they shape understandings of cause and effect in policy making, political myths which are not grounded in evidence risk misleading policy makers and the public. We suggest that important aspects of the political myth of the Green Revolution are not well grounded in evidence and thus have potential to mislead. We recommend an alternative narrative: the Green Evolution. More broadly, we argue that one of the key functions of the practice of technology assessment is to critique and to help create the political myths that accompany technologies in society.