By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the gradual but discernible increase in the mean temperature of the Earth had become manifest in myriad ways, such as coastal flooding, loss of species, increasing incidences of drought and melting glaciers. Recent climate change is recognised as fundamentally a problem brought about by human actions, with ultimately the survival of humanity and ecosystems at stake…
While it is increasingly accepted by a growing number of policy makers that action needs to be taken immediately to address climate change, it is politically difficult to do so when the impacts, in most parts of the world, are still insignificant. This is a classic 'Catch 22'. When it is possible to take decisive action to prevent catastrophe, the lack of major impacts justifies delays; but when the impacts are all too clear and the need for drastic action is recognised it may be too late.
Effective and well-founded climate policies require a careful and informed analysis of the problem, and the possible options available for addressing it. This book aims, in part, to make such a contribution. Drawing from theories and evidence from the natural and social sciences A Warming World introduces and discusses some of the various claims and counterclaims that are made about climate change, the economic costs of action, the barriers to international cooperation, the security implications of climate change, and some of the technical, political and ethical issues involved in seeking low carbon energy alternatives to coal and oil.
The intention is not only to explore climate policy making, but also to illuminate some ideas, debates and challenges that arise in environmental policy making more broadly. Environmental policy is a complex and challenging field for researchers, students and, of course, for policy makers themselves. In order to make this complexity more easily manageable we have structured this book - and the course - around a
8 A Warming World
The book questions and themes are introduced more fully in the Course Guide. You should read the introduction to the Course Guide before you start reading Chapter 1 of this book
conceptual framework comprising four course questions and six course themes. The four course questions are:
1 What are the causes and consequences of international environmental
problems 2 What have been the political responses to these problems 3 What are the constraints on more effective policy responses 4 What can be done for the future, and what should be done
Making sense of international environmental issues, the framing of environmental problems and the political and policy responses to them, requires analysis using a set of six themes:
1 Interdependence within and between nature and society 2 International political divisions, inequalities and distributions of power 3 Contention over values and knowledge 4 The relationship between sustainability and development 5 Differences across time and space 6 Responsibility and citizenship
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For this reason global warming is generally referred to as climate change. Though there are natural events and cycles that affect the climate, Scientists have found that these alone cannot explain the extraordinary rise in global temperatures. They argue that one
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