The changing climate poses serious dangers to human and non-human life alike, though perhaps the most urgent danger is one we hear very little about: the rise of climatism. Any and all social, political and ecological phenomena facing the world today – from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to the management of wildfires – quickly become climatized, explained with reference to 'a change in the climate'. With complex political and ethical challenges so narrowly framed, arresting climate change becomes the supreme political challenge of our time and everything else becomes subservient to this one goal.
In this far-sighted analysis, Mike Hulme reveals how climatism has taken hold in recent years, becoming so pervasive and embedded in public life that it is increasingly hard to identify without being written off as a climate denier. He confronts this dangerously myopic view that reduces the condition of the world to the fate of global temperature or the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide to the detriment of paying serious attention to issues as varied as poverty, liberty, biodiversity loss, inequality, and diplomacy. We must not live as though climate alone determines our present and our future.
Mike Hulme is a Professor of Human Geography at the University of Cambridge.