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Humans are no longer spectators who need to adapt to their natural environment. Our impact on the earth has caused changes that are outside the range of natural variability and are equivalent to such major geological disruptions as ice ages. Some scientists argue that we have entered a new epoch in planetary history: the Anthropocene. In such an era of planet-wide transformation, we need a new model for planet-wide environmental politics.
In Earth System Governance, Frank Biermann proposes "earth system" governance as just such a new paradigm. Biermann offers both analytical and normative perspectives. He provides detailed analysis of global environmental politics in terms of five dimensions of effective governance: agency, particularly agency beyond that of state actors; architecture of governance, from local to global levels; accountability and legitimacy; allocation of resources; and adaptiveness of the governance system. Biermann goes on to offer a wide range of policy proposals for future environmental governance and a revitalized United Nations, ranging from the establishment of a World Environment Organization to mechanisms for strengthened representation of civil society and scientists in global decision making to systems of qualified majority voting in multilateral negotiations. Drawing on ten years of research, Biermann formulates earth system governance as an empirical reality and a political necessity.
Frank Biermann is Professor of Political Science and Environmental Policy Sciences at VU University Amsterdam and Visiting Professor of Earth System Governance at Lund University. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of fifteen books, including Managers of Global Change: The Influence of International Environmental Bureaucracies (coedited with Bernd Siebenhuner) and Global Environmental Governance Reconsidered (coedited with Philipp Pattberg), both published by the MIT Press.