Fast Forward: Ethics and Politics in the Age of Global Warming

Brookings Institution Press
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Fast Forward is equal parts science primer, history lesson, policy prescription, and ethical treatise. This pithy and compelling book makes clear what we know and don't know about global warming; why the threat demands prudent and urgent action; why the transition to a low-carbon economy will be the most difficult political and economic transaction in history; and how it requires nothing less than a revolution in our sense of civic responsibility.

William Antholis and Strobe Talbott guide the reader through two decades of climate change politics and diplomacy, explaining the national and international factors that have influenced and often impeded domestic climate legislation and global negotiations. Recent United Nations–sponsored summits have demonstrated that the world cannot wait for a binding global treaty. Instead, the authors believe that the "Big Four" of America, the European Union, China, and India must lead the way forward. They recommend a new international mechanism modeled on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that would monitor national commitments and create incentives for other countries to coordinate their efforts to cut emissions.

Antholis and Talbott put their recommendations for legislative and diplomatic action into the larger context of our obligation to future generations, echoing a theme stressed by a diverse coalition of religious leaders calling for ambitious action on climate change. The world we leave to our children and grandchildren is not an abstraction, or even just a legacy; we must think about what kind of world that will be in deciding how we live—and act—today.

Praise for Fast Forward

"William Antholis and Strobe Talbott brilliantly explode the economic and scientific myths about climate change while elevating the political debate to a transgenerational moral crisis. Their synthesis of science, economics, religion, and philosophy is a clarion call to action for anyone interested in the future of the planet—which means all of us."—Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

"In their very timely and fast-paced account of where we are today on the politics of global warming, the authors see Copenhagen as having pointed up the futility of relying on the United Nations as the only vehicle through which to tackle climate change."—Ed Luce, Financial Times

"Strobe Talbott and Bill Antholis have made an admirable and important effort to move beyond the recent political rancor in Washington. They have a plan for leaders who want to be serious about energy and climate."—Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ill.)

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About the author

William Antholis is managing director of the Brookings Institution, where he is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies. During Bill Clinton's presidency, he served on the White House National Security Council staff and was a U.S. negotiator of the Kyoto Protocol.

Strobe Talbott, president of Brookings, served seven years as U.S. deputy secretary of state. Prior to his government service, he spent twenty-one years with Time magazine. His previous books include The Great Experiment (Simon & Schuster, 2008) and Engaging India (Brookings, 2004).

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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
Jun 14, 2011
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Pages
144
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ISBN
9780815722304
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Environmental Economics
Political Science / International Relations / General
Political Science / Public Policy / Environmental Policy
Science / Environmental Science
Science / Global Warming & Climate Change
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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An urgent case for climate change action that forcefully sets out, in economic, ethical, and political terms, the dangers of delay and the benefits of action.

The risks of climate change are potentially immense. The benefits of taking action are also clear: we can see that economic development, reduced emissions, and creative adaptation go hand in hand. A committed and strong low-carbon transition could trigger a new wave of economic and technological transformation and investment, a new era of global and sustainable prosperity. Why, then, are we waiting? In this book, Nicholas Stern explains why, notwithstanding the great attractions of a new path, it has been so difficult to tackle climate change effectively. He makes a compelling case for climate action now and sets out the forms that action should take.

Stern argues that the risks and costs of climate change are worse than estimated in the landmark Stern Review in 2006—and far worse than implied by standard economic models. He reminds us that we have a choice. We can rely on past technologies, methods, and institutions—or we can embrace change, innovation, and international collaboration. The first might bring us some short-term growth but would lead eventually to chaos, conflict, and destruction. The second could bring about better lives for all and growth that is sustainable over the long term, and help win the battle against worldwide poverty. The science warns of the dangers of neglect; the economics and technology show what we can do and the great benefits that will follow; an examination of the ethics points strongly to a moral imperative for action. Why are we waiting?

Experts investigate how states and other actors can improve inter-institutional synergy and examine the complexity of overlapping environmental governance structures.

Institutional interaction and complexity are crucial to environmental governance and are quickly becoming dominant themes in the international relations and environmental politics literatures. This book examines international institutional interplay and its consequences, focusing on two important issues: how states and other actors can manage institutional interaction to improve synergy and avoid disruption; and what forces drive the emergence and evolution of institutional complexes, sets of institutions that cogovern particular issue areas.

The book, a product of the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change research project (IDGEC), offers both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Chapters range from analytical overviews to case studies of institutional interaction, interplay management, and regime complexes in areas including climate change, fisheries management, and conservation of biodiversity. Contributors discuss such issues as the complicated management of fragmented multilateral institutions addressing climate change; the possible “chilling effect” on environmental standards from existing commitments; governance niches in Arctic resource protection; the relationships among treaties on conservation and use of plant genetic resources; causal factors in cross-case variation of regime prevalence; and the difficult relationship between the World Trade Organization and multilateral environmental agreements. The book offers a broad overview of research on interplay management and institutional complexes that provides important insights across the field of global environmental governance.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “The Uninhabitable Earth hits you like a comet, with an overflow of insanely lyrical prose about our pending Armageddon.”—Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker • The New York Times Book Review • Time • NPR • The Economist • The Paris Review • Toronto Star  • GQ • The Times Literary Supplement • The New York Public Library • Kirkus Reviews

It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible—food shortages, refugee emergencies, climate wars and economic devastation.

An “epoch-defining book” (The Guardian) and “this generation’s Silent Spring” (The Washington Post), The Uninhabitable Earth is both a travelogue of the near future and a meditation on how that future will look to those living through it—the ways that warming promises to transform global politics, the meaning of technology and nature in the modern world, the sustainability of capitalism and the trajectory of human progress.

The Uninhabitable Earth is also an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation—today’s.

LONGLISTED FOR THE PEN/E.O. WILSON LITERARY SCIENCE WRITING AWARD

“The Uninhabitable Earth is the most terrifying book I have ever read. Its subject is climate change, and its method is scientific, but its mode is Old Testament. The book is a meticulously documented, white-knuckled tour through the cascading catastrophes that will soon engulf our warming planet.”—Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times

“Riveting. . . . Some readers will find Mr. Wallace-Wells’s outline of possible futures alarmist. He is indeed alarmed. You should be, too.”—The Economist

“Potent and evocative. . . . Wallace-Wells has resolved to offer something other than the standard narrative of climate change. . . . He avoids the ‘eerily banal language of climatology’ in favor of lush, rolling prose.”—Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times

“The book has potential to be this generation’s Silent Spring.”—The Washington Post

“The Uninhabitable Earth, which has become a best seller, taps into the underlying emotion of the day: fear. . . . I encourage people to read this book.”—Alan Weisman, The New York Review of Books
Public deliberation over climate change has traditionally been dominated by the natural and physical sciences. Is the planet warming? To what degree, and is mankind responsible? How big a problem is this, really? But concurrent with these debates is the question of what should be done. Indeed, what can be done? Issues of governance, including the political feasibility of certain policies and their capacity for implementation, have received short shrift in the conversation. But they absolutely must be addressed as we respond to this unprecedented challenge. Greenhouse Governance brings a much-needed public policy mindset to discussion of climate change in America.

Greenhouse Governance features a number of America's preeminent public policy scholars, examining some aspect of governance and climate change. They analyze the state and influence of American public opinion on climate change as well as federalism and intergovernmental relations, which prove especially important since state and local governments have taken a more active role than originally expected. Specific policy issues examined include renewable electricity standards, mandating greater vehicle fuel economy, the "adaptation vs. mitigation" debate, emissions trading, and carbon taxes.

The contributors do consider the scientific and economic questions of climate policy but place special emphasis on political and managerial issues. They analyze the role of key American government institutions including the courts, Congress, and regulatory agencies. The final two chapters put the discussion into an international context, looking at climate governance challenges in North America, relations with the European Union, and possible models for international governance.

Contributors include Christopher Borick, Muhlenberg College; Martha Derthick, University of Virginia; Kirsten Engel, University of Arizona; Marc Landy, Boston College; Pietro Nivola, Brookings Institution; Paul Posner, George Mason University; Leigh Raymond, Purdue University; Walter Rosenbaum, University of Florida; Ian Rowlands, University of Waterloo; Henrik Selin, Boston University; Stacy VanDeveer, University of New Hampshire

This dramatic narrative of breathtaking scope and riveting focus puts the "story" back into history. It is the saga of how the most ambitious of big ideas -- that a world made up of many nations can govern itself peacefully -- has played out over the millennia. Humankind's "Great Experiment" goes back to the most ancient of days -- literally to the Garden of Eden -- and into the present, with an eye to the future.

Strobe Talbott looks back to the consolidation of tribes into nations -- starting with Israel -- and the absorption of those nations into the empires of Hammurabi, the Pharaohs, Alexander, the Caesars, Charlemagne, Genghis Khan, the Ottomans, and the Hapsburgs, through incessant wars of territory and religion, to modern alliances and the global conflagrations of the twentieth century.

He traces the breakthroughs and breakdowns of peace along the way: the Pax Romana, the Treaty of Westphalia, the Concert of Europe, the false start of the League of Nations, the creation of the flawed but indispensable United Nations, the effort to build a "new world order" after the cold war, and America's unique role in modern history as "the master builder" of the international system.

Offering an insider's view of how the world is governed today, Talbott interweaves through this epic tale personal insights and experiences and takes us with him behind the scenes and into the presence of world leaders as they square off or cut deals with each other. As an acclaimed journalist, he covered the standoff between the superpowers for more than two decades; as a high-level diplomat, he was in the thick of tumultuous events in the 1990s, when the bipolar equilibrium gave way to chaos in the Balkans, the emergence of a new breed of international terrorist, and America's assertiveness during its "unipolar moment" -- which he sees as the latest, but not the last, stage in the Great Experiment.

Talbott concludes with a trenchant critique of the worldview and policies of George W. Bush, whose presidency he calls a "consequential aberration" in the history of American foreign policy. Then, looking beyond the morass in Iraq and the battle for the White House, he argues that the United States can regain the trust of the world by leading the effort to avert the perils of climate change and nuclear catastrophe.
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