Critical Load: The politics of chemistry
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Critical Load was introduced as a environmental policy tool in the late 1980s in response to a need for exact and scientifically based measures to abate transboundary air pollution in the Convention onLong-Range Transboundary Air Pollution (CLRTAP). The main objective in this study was to analyse the practical operationalisation of these limits. The study proceeded by analysing policy document treating the Critical Load concept produced by the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (SEP A) It is showed that the concept is mainly operationalised through three scientific disciplines, chemistry, ecology and toxicology. Chemistry dominates and two things are forwarded as a reason. First, the political over all aim of Critical Load is based on the ideas that nature is robust within limits a perception, which is closely entangled with an idea that it is possible to calculate these limits. This favours chemical explanations, as chemistry is perceived as more calculable than for example ecology. Secondly, the Critical Load concept was initially used in connection to acidification, which primarily has been perceived a chemical problem. As ecological explanations in the material not are operationalised into precise limitsthe role of ecology is interpreted as a complement to the precise calculations provided by chemistry, taking into consideration the balance and the complexity of nature. Toxicological explanations on the other hand provide precise measurements and are therefore interpreted as an intermediary between ecology and chemistry. Thethree stories are therefore interpreted as versions on the same story,nature as robust within limits and calculable. The ecological and thetoxicological explanations are also interpreted as answers to a changein the perception of environmental problem to more complex and to achanging focus of polluting compounds in the CLRTAP.
Critical Load, transboundary air pollution, CLRTAP
Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-79019OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-79019DiVA: diva2:537708