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Academic & Professional Books  Environmental & Social Studies  Climate Change

The Climate Change Challenge and Failure of Democracy

By: David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith
The Climate Change Challenge and Failure of Democracy
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  • The Climate Change Challenge and Failure of Democracy ISBN: 9780313345043 Hardback Aug 2007 Usually dispatched within 5 days
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About this book

Climate change threatens the future of civilisation, but humanity is impotent in effecting solutions. Even in those nations with a commitment to reduce greenhouse emissions, they continue to rise. This failure mirrors those in many other spheres that deplete the fish of the sea, erode fertile land, destroy native forests, pollute rivers and streams and use the world's natural resources beyond their replacement rate.

The authors of this provocative new book present evidence that the fundamental problem causing environmental destruction - and climate change in particular - is the operation of liberal democracy. Its flaws and contradictions bestow upon government inability to make decisions that could provide a sustainable society. Having argued that democracy has failed humanity, the authors go even further and demonstrate that this failure can easily lead to authoritarianism without our even noticing. Even more provocatively, they assert that there is merit in preparing for this eventuality if we want to survive climate change. They are not suggesting that existing authoritarian regimes are more successful in mitigating greenhouse emissions, for to be successful economically they have adopted the market system with alacrity.

Nevertheless, the authors conclude that an authoritarian form of government is necessary, but this will be governance by experts and not by those who seek power. But there is a third way between democracy and authoritarianism; the authors offer up a radical vision of a reformed democracy that would entail ending our worldwide reliance on growth economies. Unpalatable as this model may be, they argue for the adoption of this fundamental reform of democracy over the journey to authoritarianism.

Customer Reviews


David Shearman is a physician and scientist who has held positions on faculty at Edinburgh and Yale University Medical Schools and as Mortlock Professor of Medicine at Adelaide University. Joseph Wayne Smith is a lawyer and philosopher with a research interest in environmentalism. He is the author of Global Meltdown (Praeger, 1998) and Healing in a Wounded World (Praeger, 1997).
By: David Shearman and Joseph Wayne Smith
Media reviews
Warnings of a pending environmental crisis are no longer the prerogative of solitary prophets. They now reflect the consensus of the scientific establishment. But how radical a change in established political thinking do they require of us? This volume makes a powerful case for the view that taking environmental crisis seriously implies a radical critique of democracy itself, and a willingness to accept government by qualified expertise rather than popular election. If political thinking at its best makes the pressing questions of the day an occasion to revisit cherished fundamentals, then this book qualifies.-Gordon Graham, Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminar
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