Geography and Global Warming

By Paulette Cully

According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the world is on course for the hottest year ever since records began in 1880. January to June temperatures demonstrated the warmest combined global land and sea temperatures since 1880 and June saw the 304th consecutive month where the global surface temperature has been measured to be above the 20th century average. June was also the fourth consecutive month that the standing high temperature mark was surpassed.

The fact that global warming presents an enormous threat to humanity is widely accepted but according to Andrew Sayer writing in the article “Geography and global warming: can capitalism be greened?” published in the Area journal, the response from academia, including geography, has been slow. Andrew explores the fact that geographers have expertise in specific processes contributing to global warming in specific places but it appears that geographers have not addressed the larger questions; those of can global warming be prevented and if so is capitalism capable of forestalling it? 

Andrew’s opinion is that of pessimism, believing that the chances of capitalism being greened are slim.  When faced with the challenge of acting against global warming, capitalist states are too dependent on capital to do anything about it and are also too dependent electorally on the middle classes to reduce their consumption. Andrew’s final sentence is to throw this debate open to his fellow geographers. So come on; what do you think?

To read the full global warming article click here

To read the full article Andrew Sayer, 2009, Geography and global warming: can capitalism be greened?     Area,  Volume 41, Issue 3,  Pages: 350-353

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