Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- and What It Means for Our Future

Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- and What It Means for Our Future

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by Dale Jamieson
     
 

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From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference there was a concerted international effort to stop climate change. Yet greenhouse gas emissions increased, atmospheric concentrations grew, and global warming became an observable fact of life.

In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to

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Overview

From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference there was a concerted international effort to stop climate change. Yet greenhouse gas emissions increased, atmospheric concentrations grew, and global warming became an observable fact of life.

In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and why it still matters what we do. Centered in philosophy, the volume also treats the scientific, historical, economic, and political dimensions of climate change. Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change, Jamieson argues, reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of our politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities. The climate change that is underway is remaking the world in such a way that familiar comforts, places, and ways of life will disappear in years or decades rather than centuries.

Climate change also threatens our sense of meaning, since it is difficult to believe that our individual actions matter. The challenges that climate change presents go beyond the resources of common sense morality — it can be hard to view such everyday acts as driving and flying as presenting moral problems. Yet there is much that we can do to slow climate change, to adapt to it and restore a sense of agency while living meaningful lives in a changing world.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"he has a gift for translating complexities into simple, often arresting terms, and is able to make even familiar material seem fresh...The result is a book that is uncommonly accessible to nonspecialists, and will resonate even among those working in the trenches of climate policy, for whom works of pure philosophy often seem somewhat beside the point...This is sound advice not only for economists but for anyone writing about climate change. Reason in a Dark Time succeeds so well because Jamieson, with very few exceptions, practices what he preaches." —Ethics and International Affairs

"A book that does justice to the full tragedy and weird comedy of climate change is Reason in a Dark Time, by the philosopher Dale Jamieson. Ordinarily, I avoid books on the subject, but a friend recommended it to me last summer, and I was intrigued by its subtitle, "Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed-And What It Means for Our Future"; by the word "failed" in particular, the past tense of it. I started reading and couldn't stop...I'd expected to be depressed by "Reason in a Dark Time" but I wasn't. Part of what's mesmerizing about climate change is its vastness across both space and time. Jamieson, by elucidating our past failures and casting doubt on whether we'll ever do any better, situates it within a humanely scaled context."
— Jonathan Franzen in The New Yorker

"An invaluable contribution to the dialogue about how to minimize the inevitable social and environmental devastation that looms large in our future."
— Booklist

"This book is a must read by all who wish to bring reason to the challenges [of climate change] we are going to face very soon, whether we want to or not..." —Green Energy Times

"Jamieson provides a wide-ranging account, looking at the lack of political incentives to act and at the influence of organised climate denial...Jamieson concludes with some observations about things we can definitely do for the better right away (abandon coal), and with shrewd reflections on living with the knowledge that we flunked the climate test." —Times Higher Education

"A highly informative, wise, and thought-provoking discussion of some of the greatest problems that humanity faces, and of some possible solutions."
—Derek Parfit, All Souls College, Oxford

"Dale Jamieson is a philosopher and a realist. He was been working on climate change for a quarter of a century, alongside both scientists and policy makers. He argues that we are heading down a dangerous road and will likely have to face a much more difficult world. But he also argues that there is so much we can do individually and collectively to make a difference, and warns that the best must not be the enemy of the good. This is a very thoughtful and valuable book and should be read by all those who would wish to bring reason to a defining challenge of our century."
—Professor Lord Nicholas Stern

"No one but Dale Jamieson could write an eminently readable book about climate change that ranges over the full sweep of the problem from the historical to the ethical, the scientific to the political. By placing this vexing issue into the broader context of the human condition, Jamieson guides the reader's mood from pessimism to optimism, and finally realism about our prospects."
—Michael Oppenheimer, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Geosciences and International Affairs, Princeton University

"Part requiem for our failed hopes and part vision for our uncertain future, this remarkably far-ranging work by the philosopher who has thought longest and hardest about climate change could inspire fruitfully radical reassessment of our attitudes toward the most far-reaching challenge of our lifetimes. The climate is changing — can we?"
—Henry Shue, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford

"Although Jamieson characterizes the Enlightenment faith in reason as a "dream," and recognizes that it is in particularly short supply in climate change policy, he is very much a man of the Enlightenment himself - hence his title, with its emphasis on reason, even in dark times, and his stated goal, which is to make readers think. Reason in a Dark Time succeeds admirably in this task. Although much of the ground Jamieson explores is well trodden, he has a gift for translating complexities into simple, often arresting terms, and is able to make even familiar material seem fresh." — Ethics and International Affairs

"Forget learning about the science of climate change; read this book to learn about society and perhaps do a little bit of soul-searching. Summing Up: Highly recommended. " —CHOICE

Library Journal
★ 06/01/2015
Jamieson begins with the assumption that climate change is upon us and it is too late to reverse its effects, especially since the emission of greenhouse gases continues to grow unabated worldwide despite numerous international agreements. He challenges readers to consider how future humans will adapt to the climate extremes being created now. (LJ Xpress Reviews, 5/2/14)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199337668
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
04/01/2014
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
230,388
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

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