Science and the environment: The Kuhnian paradigm and the challenge of the ordinary people

  • Samuel Otu Ishaya


Across the nations of the world, serious attention is now being paid to the environment because of the increase in environmental disasters. Most of these disasters are not natural but as a consequence of the activities of human beings and their science including their technological apparatuses and deployments. Issues such as global warming, climate change, flooding, desertification, air, water and land pollutions, deforestation, wild fires among so many debilitating issues that affect the environment today have become a source of concern to world leaders, environmentalists, philosophers and other concerned individuals. But the question is; what is the cause of the increase in environmental disasters? Is anything being done to change the narrative? Are the „ordinary people‟ aware of the impact of their use and enjoyment of science and technology on the environment? Who takes the lead in shifting the paradigm? Thomas Kuhn had opined in his magnus-opus – The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, that every paradigm has relevance in the age to which it is accepted and practiced by the scientific community. But a time will come when anomalies would begin to be noticed in accepted paradigms. These anomalies will lead to crisis that will finally lead to a shift in paradigm thus heralding a scientific revolution. A shift in paradigm means a deliberate departure from the old way of doing things in other to face new challenges that may have been caused by the former way things were done. Using the analytic and critical methods, this paper attempts to situate the impact of science and technology and the activities of the ordinary people on the environment. The Kuhnian notion of „paradigm shift‟ shall be adopted as a framework to establish a workable panacea to change the narrative. The idea is to canvas for a paradigm shift in the management of the environment by co-opting „ordinary people‟ to participate in shifting the environmental paradigm of this age. 


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eISSN: 1813-2227