A refreshing view of a complex and often misunderstood topic,
This review is from: The Politics of Climate Change (Paperback)
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Anthony Giddens' book is refreshing change from the usual climate change works - either heavily for the debate, or strongly anti (the sceptics), in that he treats climate change as a political problem, rather than a technological problem. His clear and insightful book brings a political view to the debate.
The book starts with a short account of the science of global warming and includes a fair assessment of the sceptics who challenge it. The author outlines the objections of the sceptics and explores areas of uncertainty about the forecasts, but in general assumes that the evidence linking human activity with climate change is overwhelming.
The book's main objective is to ask "If we now understand what we have done to the planet, and that we continue to do it, why is is so difficult to change our behaviour?
The answer is (according to the author) the "Giddens' paradox". The potential disasters that may occur due to climate change are (a) not immediate and (b) not visible, so the human race ignores the issues. However, just sitting around, waiting for the disaster to become obvious before reacting will be too late. The problem is therefore political and not technological, and technological solutions have little or no chance of success unless our politicians manage to persuade their constituents and (more importantly) the technocrats in industries such as energy to take this potential armageddon seriously.
Giddens is quite critical of the Green proposals, and the means used to achieve them, because they ignore politics. Decentralisation will prevent the necessary co-ordinated action and the concepts behind sustainable development are simply not practical. Solutions to the global warming problem have to involve politics and government and centralised planning.
The author discusses the role of markets, and is critical of the Green policies that reject market solutions - but he discusses the shortcomings of markets in the face of problems such as global warming, and demonstrates that markets need to be encouraged by governments.
There is much emphasis put on national decision-making, as oppose to multilateral negotiations through the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation or even the European Union, and he suggests that progress will be made by individual nations, with international co-operation following from groups of similarily minded nations. Global agreements such as Kyoto are doomed to fail because of divergent national interests, with deadlocks the norm. It is suggested that the best course is for a few of the developed nations to start taking individual action now, and demonstrate to the rest of the world what can be achieved.
A refreshing view of a complex and often misunderstood topic