- Climate Change, International Interests and the Future
The global commons problem of climate change has been one of great and growing concern over the past several years. Though this issue has been debated for decades, recent severe weather events and resulting environmental calamities have heightened its salience. We are beginning to ask how much influence changing climatic patterns and warming have had on these events, and whether such events will occur at greater frequencies and on a grander scale as the problem persists and matures. The debate about climate change has thus recently shifted from questioning the existence of the phenomenon to inquiring about appropriate and effective mitigation and long-term preparation for future climatic shift. Reviewed here are three recent volumes that discuss aspects of the climate change debate and the policy actions that have resulted in both the domestic and international arenas. Their varying objectives include providing a general education on the matter of climate change, provoking greater public awareness and concern, and assessing the role of environmental foreign policy in climate change responses. All three also generate common themes, addressing the importance of international interests, the inequity in the distribution of probable outcomes, and the uncertainty of the future.
Climate Change, edited by Joseph F. C. DiMento and Pamela Doughman, is essentially written as a teaching tool. This volume, though a compilation, consists primarily of pieces written by the two editors with only a few chapters written by others. Because of this construction, the book has an unusually smooth flow and a seamless organization of ideas and topics. It provides a relatively [End Page 141] general education on the issue of climate change, giving a great deal of attention to the explanation of the problem itself and to answering common questions on the subject. Beyond this basic introduction, the authors address theoretical aspects of the issue such as scientific consensus, global and domestic political responses, the role of news and media, and human security. In general this book takes a much more domestic approach to the study of climate change than the other two titles reviewed here, obviously intending to address a primarily American audience.
The authors are unwavering in their acceptance of the reality and gravity of the problem of global climate change, taking care to address and dismiss the issue of scientific uncertainty and to explain the sometimes-misleading effects of the tradition of non-bias in the news media. The book highlights the positive aspects of current international actions and emphasizes proactive policies enacted at various levels of government, as well as in the private sector. The authors note that the problem of climate change has been widely recognized at the global level and that possible solutions are being actively employed, even if they are, as yet, inadequate. Overall, this volume contends that more action is necessary on all levels to effectively address global climate change. The authors end the volume on a more personal note with their chapter entitled "What it Means for Us, Our Children, and Our Grandchildren." It is here that the authors appeal to their audience to use the information presented in the book to account for the effects of climate change on their lives, and vice versa. Though quite subtle, there is definitely a call for action implied here.
Global Warming, edited by Ernesto Zedillo, also includes a relatively detailed account of the basic premises behind the problem of climate change. The organization of the volume is quite different, however. This book, truly a compilation, is the product of a conference held in 2005 by the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. As such, the chapters within are focused primarily on policy responses to the climate change debate. The first set of pieces focuses on the debate about the existence and...