How can a struggling democracy tackle one of the most critical challenges the world faces? Contributors from across the disciplines share their ideas on the interconnections between rejuvenating the democratic process and addressing the climate crisis. How do you perceive a moral pathway forward? We encourage you to share your insights with our thinking community.
Beyond the Dual Crisis: From Climate Change to Democratic Change
In many ways, the maintenance of an environment adequate to human health and well-being is the ultimate public good, and indeed a global one at that. I suggest that it also should be recognized as a prominent human right, since environmental sustenance is a fundamental condition for each person’s life and agency. Current processes of climate change threaten both this common good and individuals’ development of capacities and fulfillment of goals. Yet, these processes harm people unequally and differentially and thus raise issues of global justice. They have more grievous effects on structurally disadvantaged people than on the affluent, who are also better situated to mitigate or adapt to the pernicious consequences.
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Democracy and Climate Change: How Cities Can Do What States Can’t
[ . . .] It is pretty obvious, however, that we do not live in the ideal democratic world. In our real world of corrupted, minimalist democracy, we privilege individual, special-interest thinking and ask citizens to do no more than express their private preferences. We confound opinion and knowledge and sometimes even seem to think that by denying expert science we honor “democratic” thinking (as if shared ignorance and democracy were the same thing). In this corrupted version of democracy, “now” trumps “later,” today takes precedence over tomorrow, and no one takes responsibility for that greater democracy about which Edmund Burke spoke—the democracy that encompasses not only the interests of the living, but the interests of those who are gone and those as yet unborn. Generational thinking can only be cultivated in a setting of prudent deliberation; contrarily, our short-term present-mindedness shrinks the temporal zone.
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