Citizens Must Care First

Climate change has been a one of the growing concerns of the scientific community, but less so for the general public. In fact, although governments address the importance of combatting climate change their actions do not convey the same message. As David G. Victor points out many nations “climate proof” themselves so that their economic development will not be affected by climate change. In fact, this is detrimental to collectively addressing the issue because if nations have very little at stake with climate change, then they are less likely to actively find solutions. In fact, by building their economic growth on climate change resistant pillars, then it is not surprising that the general public has very little interest in the problem as well. This is because, citizens do not feel the effects of climate change and since people are generally self interested and thinks about their own monetary well being, climate change does not take precedence over other issues.

Additionally, Victor makes a valid point when he explains that by addressing the problem with a broad membership would be the best solution, but the reality is a different one. This is because by adding complexity to the membership, there are a greater number of diverging ideas as well as less effective cooperation due to these varying ideas. In other words, nothing will get done. The truth is the broad membership only works, if every member has interest in addressing the problem in a way that benefits the whole and not just itself. Unfortunately since many of these states’ economies do not depend of the climate, then they do not feel as much of a sense of urgency to address the problem. So essentially, states by “climate proofing” themselves basically made cooperation difficult when addressing this issue.

The Washington Post article by Joshua Tucker makes an equally valid point by applying the idea of the discount rate to climate change. He explains that the benefits of addressing global change now will not be felt until decades from now. As a result, the incentive for people to advocate for something that will not benefit them or their immediate family is not strong enough. As a result, climate change is not a priority amongst the general public so many democratic states can say a lot about global change without doing anything about it because their constituents are not pushing them to do much about it. Climate change is real and is going to have detrimental effects on future generations, but unless we can make an effort to care for the future of human kind then we won’t be able to adequately push our leaders to address the climate.


One thought on “Citizens Must Care First”

  1. The author touches on a variety of points on climate change discussed by the readings. I agree with the author’s stance on Victor’s argument which argues that a broad membership on tackling the climate problem would be the best solution. Indeed, climate change, a global and a common problem, must be addressed by every nation. However, as we see in multilateral agreements, the cost of uniformity is often actually real changes. In professor Schroeder’s lecture the class discussed that everyone’s problem is nobody’s problem. In climate change all parties agree that there is a common interest in cutting down emission levels and maintaining a sustainable level in the environment. Individually, however, it is rational to cheat as one’s share of the pie increases. The tragedy of the commons problem may suggest that increasing the number of membership does not bring about an easy solution, but in fact further complicates the situation.


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