Jo GuldiFollow

Publication Date



This article explores the promise of institutions and infrastructures associated with democ- racy to limit the worst consequences of climate change. The article highlights the appar- ent conflict between expert governance on the one hand, and, on the other hand, calls for democratization that reflect the diverse perspectives of groups whose rights and labor have been exploited over historical timescales. Drawing on the history of bureaucracy and governance, this article argues that the apparent contradiction between the two poles of discourse can be reconciled by a system of information infrastructure designed to cre- ate a robust, accountable system of environmental data monitoring that also accounts for the work of inclusive community groups as stewards of landscapes. The article concludes by recommending a 6-point “Outline of an Information Infrastructure for Responsive, Accountable Governance of the Environment,” which includes the following recommenda- tions: (1) broadcast efforts to enlist communities—especially vulnerable communities on the front lines—in efforts to document environmental degradation and the effects of cli- mate change; (2) equitable and sustainable solicitation of the voices of populations under- represented in traditional science; (3) centralized preservation of the data in an archive where it can be found, retrieved, revisited, and implemented for action; (4) analysis of the data by both community participants and laboratory scientists; (5) the creation of account- ability through the establishment of centralized, powerful organs of governance capable of holding polluters to account on the basis of data collected by both citizens and scientists; and (6) transparent mechanisms for negotiation.

Document Type



democracy, participation, climate change, infrastructure, politics, history, state building



CC-BY Attribution 4.0


Climatic Change



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.