Climate change and democratic legitimacy

I have finished my final assignment for the term, the essay for my Global Environmental Politics course. It is about climate change and democratic legitimacy:

Many of these ideas are likely to find their way into my PhD thesis, so I would definitely appreciate feedback.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

7 thoughts on “Climate change and democratic legitimacy”

  1. I have read your paper and it is simply and logically argued. If you would like, I can send you more comments. In my opinion, a paradigm shift in thinking is essential for any real action to take place. Has any previous generation put aside their well-being for the future of others? I think that immigrant people have done it for their children. The battle that you speak of is not an individual one; rather it concerns the future of the earth, all people as well as all other living realms. Somehow people need to see that less is more and it is something to aspire to.

  2. Another important question is why most people who accept this basic argument – that it is deeply unjust of us to ruin the world for future generations – still don’t make substantial changes in their personal behaviour, either in terms of curtailing carbon-intensive activities or in terms of political lobbying.

  3. I think that many people are trying to reduce their carbon footprint in significant ways, but the people who have the power and the money are not on side. If half of the military budget was used to provide food and basic provisions for human life and alternative energy research, we could be heading in the right direction. That said, too many people do not see it as a top priority in their lives.

  4. It not just a matter of winning the support of the rich and powerful. The lives of ordinary people probably need to change a lot if we are to avoid the worst climate change scenarios. In all likelihood, that will involve an obligation to consume energy more efficiently and to make less use of especially energy-intensive technologies.

  5. I always used to think that we could avert climate change simply through our actions and conservation. Now, largely due to reading your materials, I am aware of the magnitude of the task and all the factors that combine to create a daunting mess. It seems hard to know where to start. Perhaps we need to begin by prioritizing what is most important to ourselves and take steps to avoid energy consuming activities that are non-essential. That said, how does one compare the wish to visit a loved one to using coal to keep warm or to cook food to survive?

  6. Behaviours necessary for survival are not the place to start. The place to start is with luxury activities that are essentially recreational. Eating less meat and traveling less are probably a good place to start, for many people. I also think it’s wise to have fewer or no children.

  7. There has been a groundswell of activity against the pipeline from the Vancouver Unitarian Church. I am excited about that. Writing to our elected politicians has not generated a single response for me.
    Many countries are now having few children and I think that this trend will continue. That too, will cause a problem in these countries. Nothing seems to be simple anymore.

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