1st Edition

Contemporary Climate Change Debates
A Student Primer

Edited By

Mike Hulme

ISBN 9781138333024
Published December 5, 2019 by Routledge
280 Pages 7 B/W Illustrations

USD $46.95

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Book Description

Contemporary Climate Change Debates is an innovative new textbook which tackles some of the difficult questions raised by climate change.

For the complex policy challenges surrounding climate migration, adaptation and resilience, structured debates become effective learning devices for students. This book is organised around 15 important questions, and is split into four parts:

  • What do we need to know?
  • What should we do?
  • On what grounds should we base our actions?
  • Who should be the agents of change?

Each debate is addressed by pairs of one or two leading or emerging academics who present opposing viewpoints. Through this format the book is designed to introduce students of climate change to different arguments prompted by these questions, and also provides a unique opportunity for them to engage in critical thinking and debate amongst themselves. Each chapter concludes with suggestions for further reading and with discussion questions for use in student classes.

Drawing upon the sciences, social sciences and humanities to debate these ethical, cultural, legal, social, economic, technological and political roadblocks, Contemporary Debates on Climate Change is essential reading for all students of climate change, as well as those studying environmental policy and politics and sustainable development more broadly.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why and how to debate climate change

Mike Hulme

1. Is climate change the most important challenge of our times?

Sarah Cornell and Aarti Gupta

PART I: What do we need to know?

2. Is the concept of ‘tipping point’ helpful for describing and communicating possible climate futures?

Michel Crucifix and James Annan

3. Should individual extreme weather events be attributed to human agency?

Friederike E.L. Otto and Greg Lusk

4. Does climate change drive violence, conflict and human migration?

David D. Zhang and Qing Pei; Christiane Fröhlich and Tobias Ide

5. Can the social cost of carbon be calculated?

Reyer Gerlagh and Roweno Heijmans; Kozo Torasan Mayumi

PART II: What should we do?

6. Are carbon markets the best way to address climate change?

Misato Sato and Timothy Laing; Mike Hulme

7. Should future investments in energy technology be limited exclusively to renewables?

Jennie C. Stephens and Gregory Nemet

8. Is it necessary to research solar climate engineering as a possible backstop technology?

Jane C.S. Long and Rose Cairns

PART III: On what grounds should we base our actions?

9. Is emphasising consensus in climate science helpful for policymaking?

John Cook and Warren Pearce

10. Do rich people rather than rich countries bear the greatest responsibility for climate change?

Paul G. Harris and Kenneth Shockley

11. Is climate change a human rights violation?

Catriona McKinnon and Marie-Catherine Petersmann

PART IV: Who should be the agents of change?

12. Does successful emissions reduction lie in the hands of non-state rather than state actors?

Liliana B. Andronova and Kim Coetzee

13. Is legal adjudication essential for enforcing ambitious climate change policies?

Eloise Scotford; Marjan Peeters and Ellen Vos

14. Does the ‘Chinese model’ of environmental governance demonstrate to the world how to govern the climate?

Tianbao Qin and Meng Zhang; Lei Liu and Pu Wang

15. Are social media making constructive climate policymaking harder?

Mike S. Schäfer and Peter North

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Mike Hulme is Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge, UK, founding director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Reseach and Editor-in-Chief of the review journal WIREs Climate Change. He is the author of eight books on climate change, including Why We Disagree About Climate Change and Can Science Fix Climate Change?


'Responding to climate change requires that we engage with a host of complex and interwoven ethical and political issues that reach deep into the heart of values and cultures that are often diverse and conflicting. Contemporary Climate Change Debates provides unique insights into how and why we come to disagree about the ways in which climate change can be resolved, and will be essential reading for students grappling with these challenging questions.'Harriet Bulkeley, Professor of Geography, Durham University, UK

'With public debate over climate change frozen over "matters of fact", Mike Hulme offers essays that debate both sides of "matters of concern". The paired essays show reason on both sides of each question. They show what a rational global debate about climate change would actually look like. And they show that such a debate may actually be possible. This is a unique and hopeful book, which belongs in the library of all students and scholars of climate change.'Michael Dove, Margaret K. Musser Professor of Social Ecology, Yale University, USA

'Neither apocalyptic, nor passive towards the most challenging problem for humanity, this book opens a real international and interdisciplinary deliberation about responses to climate change. Solving climate warming is more about matters of concern, about different and shared responsibilities, than it is about matters of fact and the mechanics of energy transitions. Hulme’s book encompasses different aspects of the ethical and political debates in a pluralistic way, and offers a good basis for understanding argument and action in our polarized democracies, especially for the younger generation.'Bernard Reber, Research Director (political sciences), CNRS, Sciences Po, Paris, France

'Hulme and the contributors to Contemporary Climate Change Debates see climate change for what it really is: a political problem, not a scientific one. The science is as certain as it’s ever going to be. What students need is a framework for understanding how their values—and the values of well-intentioned others who disagree with them—attach to climate science to produce policy. And that is precisely what this book provides.' Lynda Walsh, Associate Professor of English, University of Nevada, USA

'This collection of climate change debates constitutes a timely contribution edited by Mike Hulme, one of the most renowned scholars in climate research, who brings together the necessary cross-disciplinary perspectives. Following up his seminal book Why We Disagree About Climate Change, Hulme here undertakes the innovative initiative of bringing in voices of both established and emerging scholars, a very promising move for informative and constructive dialogues.'Kjersti Fløttum, Professor of Linguistics, University of Bergen, Norway

'At a time when climate change denial has become a deliberate distraction by vested interests rather than a good faith intellectual engagement, this book offers a refreshing take on decision-making amidst complexity. These are the climate change debates we need to havenot, "is it happening?", but "what are we going to do about it?" Mike Hulme brings together established and emerging scholarly voices in a format that will engage students of many backgrounds.'Lesley Head, Professor of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia

'These carefully designed exchanges by respected scholars allow students to experience meaningful differences of thought and to form their own judgements. Curated by Mike Hulme, a researcher with world-class expertise in scientific and cultural dimensions of climate change, there are no false debates or fake controversies here. Instead, there are mature arguments over questions that will shape future climate pathways. An invaluable classroom resource.'Willis Jenkins, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, USA

'The debates about climate change in this book go far beyond the usual arguments over whether climate change is happening to explore some of the key questions about how to study and attribute change, impacts and costs; whether markets, renewables, solar climate engineering and non-state actors provide the best solutions; and how to address climate justice and communication. I especially appreciate the depth of social science perspectives and the effort to include many voices of women scholars. A terrific resource for teaching, and for researchers wishing to broaden their understanding of key contemporary topics in climate change.'Diana Livermann, Regent’s Professor of Geography and Development, University of Arizona, USA

'Studying climate change as a student can be daunting. With such a vast array of different literature available it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. This volume does justice to the truly interdisciplinary nature of climate change. Written in a tone appropriate for all students from A-level upwards, and with extensive offerings of extra reading for each chapter, Hulme’s book is an absolute necessity for those seeking answers to the big questions of climate change. If only it had been published while I was studying!'Daisy Malton, geography graduate student, University of Cambridge, UK