BISEMEH unknowns



Most research networks boast about what they know. But in our view, it is equally important to spell out what we do not know.

In fact, ignorance is one of the most underrated sources of wisdom: it generates curiosity, stimulates conversation, and it fosters intellectual honesty. Confessing ignorance is quite literally a leap of faith. You can hurt yourself badly if you jump, but if you make it, you feel great.

We invite BISEMEH scholars to confess their ignorance. It can be an issue that they are trying to resolve in their ongoing research. Or it can be a question that they cannot solve by themselves, or a suspicion that they are struggling to verify. Knowledge is power, as Francis Bacon so rightly noted. But for those who ask clever questions, there is also some strength in ignorance.

What was the inside story of the doomed 2009 climate summit in Copenhagen?

We have heard a number of stories about specific meetings and blunders, which usually identify a certain culprit. But we are lacking a good overview, something akin to Richard Bendick’s Ozone Diplomacy, the story of how the Montreal Protocol for the Protection of the Ozone Layer came about, written by the chief U.S. negotiator. Why did nobody write the inside story of the Copenhagen failure? My suspicion is that nobody is in a position to do so. Climate negotiations are so immensely complex nowadays that nobody has a full grasp of the negotiating process. If this is the case, that says a lot about global environmental policy.