Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 350

350         Arctic Yearbook 2014 Impact Assessment in an effort to better inform planners and decision-makers of the potential outcomes of proposed projects, programs and policies. These requirements – including the acquisition of baseline data and trends, scoping of probable outcomes to proposed actions, and projections of estimated effects – fundamentally shape the architecture of resource management frameworks. However, these management technologies of hard science – particularly under conditions of risk and uncertainty – also run the risk of becoming what Foucault has called a “regime of truth”, used by decision-makers in attempts to shield themselves from the fundamental political discourse each of those technologies abstractly represents (Foucault, as quoted in Scott 2012). In the United States, current ‘regimes of truth’ still go to great lengths and expense to prioritize particular forms of inquiry and management practice. Scientists charged with ecosystem based management test and tinker with systematic and rational conceptual management frameworks while the complex issues facing these agencies have yet to become systematic and rational problems. Millions of dollars are spent on a handful of all-too-brief marine research cruises in the U.S. Arctic to capture data on physical and biological oceanographic conditions that, in the end, often fail to describe the seasonal pulse and pattern of an ecological system that is known intimately by local or indigenous residents. The rich empirical data captured by these cruises are undeniably valuable. They are necessary and appropriate for integration into risk computations and political discourses surrounding important governance decisions at certain governance scales. However, both the data and the scales of governance to which they are directed often remain inherently unresponsive to the day-to-day survival needs of subsistence hunters and fishers or to the management of human wellbeing in small coastal communities where qualitative calculations of environmental change manifest themselves in descriptive place names, oral histories, and the cultural norms and practices rarely recognized or given value by the “usual” indicators of sustainable development or economic welfare. As Karen Scott has discussed (2012), “in a policy world dominated by discourses of ‘hard’ evidence, policy actors have to back up their decisions with statistical evidence that represents the interests of all concerned as fully as possible” (8). Yet, ironically, the increasing wealth of hard evidence available to today’s decision-makers has not been shown to have an empirical linkage to substantive changes in policy or societal outcomes (Flyvbjerg 1998; Boulanger 2007; Rydin 2007; Rydin et al. 2003; Levett 1998; Cobb 2000; Innes 1990; Scott 2012). Indeed, given the high levels of uncertainty that hangs over predictive science and the vague probabilistic nature of risk assessments, it should not be surprising that socio-political factors drive most decisions and that science is instead used to shield decision-makers against the inherent challenges and difficulties of social debate, negotiation and collective action. Resource managers in both the U.S. and Canada responsible for updating or developing plans to govern the proposed multi-sector use of marine environments are increasingly looking to environmental consulting firms to fill knowledge gaps and temporarily augment the institutional capacity of management agencies charged with fulfilling unique planning mandates. Many environmental consultant firms have, in the process, been tasked by their public sector clients with the independent development of indicators to describe environmental and coastal community well- Sojka