Political Science

Long Problems: Climate Change and the Challenge of Governing across Time

Political strategies for tackling climate change and other “long problems” that span generations

Hardcover

Price:
$29.95/£25.00
ISBN:
Published (US):
Apr 2, 2024
Published (UK):
May 28, 2024
2024
Pages:
256
Size:
6.13 x 9.25 in.
Illus:
5 b/w illus. 4 tables.
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Climate change and its consequences unfold over many generations. Past emissions affect our climate today, just as our actions shape the climate of tomorrow, while the effects of global warming will last thousands of years. Yet the priorities of the present dominate our climate policy and the politics surrounding it. Even the social science that attempts to frame the problem does not theorize time effectively. In this pathbreaking book, Thomas Hale examines the politics of climate change and other “long problems.” He shows why we find it hard to act before a problem’s effects are felt, why our future interests carry little weight in current debates, and why our institutions struggle to balance durability and adaptability. With long-term goals in mind, he outlines strategies for tilting the politics and policies of climate change toward better outcomes.

Globalization “widened” political problems across national boundaries and changed our understanding of politics and governance. Hale argues that we must make a similar shift to understand the “lengthening” of problems across time. He describes tools and strategies that can, under certain conditions, allow policymakers to anticipate future needs and risks, make interventions that get ahead of problems, shift time horizons, adapt to changing circumstances, and set forward-looking goals that endure. As the climate changes, politics must, too. Efforts to solve long-term problems—not only climate change but other issues as well, including technology governance and demographic shifts—can also be a catalyst for a broader institutional transformation oriented toward the long term. With Long Problems, Hale offers an essential guide to governing across time.