More Climate Change

There’ve been several interesting comments following from my entry on Tom Ackerman’s lecture about climate change, particularly on whether the issue needs to be de-politicised. Eric contends that the issue needs to be de-politicised, while Jim responded that he doesn’t feel that the answer lies that way (but don’t take my brief summary for it, do go back and read their comments)

I think it’s important to note a difference here between the ways ‘political’ issues work in the US, in the UK, and in other parts of the world. In the US it is easy to develop a view that the Democrats are pro-environment and the Republicans are anti-environment. Climate change as a political issue often becomes a partisan issue, getting thrown around just like any other. While British politics is often subject to the same dangers, the existence of a prominent third party and a slightly more nuanced debate leaves me believing that it might be possible for climate change issues to be political without becoming quite so starkly partisan.

I’m entirely convinced that an important prong of any strategy to respond to climate change has to be political in the sense that it will need legislation, and it will need the involvement of our elected representatives. At the same time it seem safe to say that we must make very clear that it mustn’t remain a partisan issue. This is bigger than that.


  1. I like your choice of words better than mine. What I want is for it to no longer be starkly partisan. If we’re ever going to make a serious effort to combat climate change, a large part of it will have to come through legislation and tax dollars.

  2. Interesting line on the bbc news site about this. The distributed computing simulation has just reported in nature – check it out at – and the comment on the BBC is:

    “It’s very difficult to get politicians to collaborate, not only across the globe but also over sustained lengths of time,” Bob Spicer from the Earth Sciences Department at the Open University, told BBC News.

    “The people who can hold politicians to account are the public; and with this project we are bringing cutting-edge science to the stakeholders, the public.”

    This is really what it comes down to – we need to make sure politicians learn that ignoring this issue reduces support. Perhaps this project is a good way to use science to change politics?