Overcoming inertia not to act on climate change

I-Hsien Porter

In a commentary in The Observer, Robin McKie outlines some of the statistics that reinforce the argument for man-made climate change.

The concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has increased significantly over the past 50 years, causing temperature rises of 0.80C. Many scientists argue that a total increase in temperature of at least 20C is inevitable by 2100, leading to more extreme weather events, water shortages and disruption to food production.

Despite the warnings, surprisingly little has been done to mitigate or adapt to the effects of climate change. In an article in Area, Andrew Sayer expresses pessimism about whether this attitude will change.

Sayer argues that in the Global North, states are too dependant on capital to meet the costs of acting against climate change. Governments are too electorally dependant on the middle classes to reduce their consumption.

Overcoming the incentives not to act on climate change provides a challenge for those in government. However, the need to do so is clear. Geographers can contribute to this debate by improving our understanding of both the physical processes driving climate change, and the human processes driving our response.

‘After a wasted year, climate change must once again be our priority.’ The Observer 26th December 2010.

Andrew Sayer (2010) ‘Geography and global warming: can capitalism be greened?’ Area 41 (3): 350-353


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