In my main field, environmental politics - the use of ‘the environment’ in power struggles - I can’t think of a greatest positive innovation. But I can think of a bad one: ever more media people (and others) now pontificate about science and especially ‘global warming’ and the climate (even planetary ethics) without any real understanding of climate and how little we understand it.
Many who demand policy changes do not know how science and especially mathematical modelling work. Science can and often has been misused for propaganda purposes, to gain legitimacy, practice ‘spin’, or underpin political correctness. I think British society, led by government (bureaucracy and research lobbies) has gone genuinely mad – for non-science related reasons - over ‘global warming’ as a real and proven scientific phenomenon.
Lots of political and technological (and investment) agendas are now pursued under this label, some indeed likely to lead to useful and much needed innovations. This is another field I am also interested in, energy. Here you find many innovations which ‘market forces’ - private investors - will not fund and this has led to another set of innovations, how to make private citizens give money for public purposes.
Sonja Boehmer-Christiansen is reader in geography at the University of Hull and editor of Energy and Environment