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David Victor Comments On Ultimatum, a Climate Change Novel

The Climate Change Novel: A Faulty Simulator of Environmental Politics

11/08/2011
Adam Trexler, Policy Innovations

Over the last three decades, more than 200 novels have been written that try to imagine our future in a climate-changed world. Novels are fanciful by nature, doomsaying or utopian, and would never be confused for serious policy arguments. However, this collection of novels, taken as a whole, indicates some of the fundamental difficulties we have in articulating a just and sustainable future.

Despite decades spent talking about climate change, our culture remains mired in political uncertainty. Anthony Giddens recently described the crux of the problem as follows: An effective response to global warming must be multilateral, but we lack the institutions, mechanisms, and international relationships needed to make progress. Simply put, we lack a politics of climate change.

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David Victor is Director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation (ILAR). Looking across a wide array of issues from environment and energy to human rights, trade and security, the Laboratory explores when (and why) international laws actually work.