Crises and opportunities

Authored by: Noel Tracy

Routledge Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Print publication date:  July  2010
Online publication date:  July  2010

Print ISBN: 9780415544764
eBook ISBN: 9780203876213
Adobe ISBN: 9781135998509


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The Chinese word for crisis (weiji) is made up from two sets of characters – danger (weixian) and opportunity (jihui). This is very apt in describing the situation we now face with global climate change. The dangers are well known – increasing temperatures, droughts, spreading marginality of arable land; ice-cap melting and rising sea levels threatening coastal cities, deltas and islands; reduced sources of fresh water; greater frequency and severity of major storms; extended range of diseases and many others. Clearly, we cannot continue in the old ways if the human race is to have a future. To date, we have perhaps placed too much emphasis on the dangers. In this chapter I suggest that the coincidence of two major crises – global climate change and the collapse of the international financial system – necessitates a major restructuring of the global economy. This is increasingly seen as unavoidable in both government and business circles. We need a new economy to overcome both crises. Tackling climate change is becoming increasingly urgent while at the same time the financial crisis is undermining at least some of the resistance to major changes in the economy.

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