It is hard to be as optimistic about what is arguably the most pressing security related wicked problem facing the world today—climate change. In fact, of all the leading global issues, it is the one on which we have probably made the least progress.
In fact, most of the evidence on climate change presents us with a curious paradox. On the one hand, millions—perhaps billions—of people around the world are acting in ways that take their carbon footprint into account by recycling, insulating their homes, and buying more fuel efficient cars. Yet somehow, that has not been translated into a global movement that puts climate change and the good of the entire planet first. Whatever we may think about the dangers of climate change, most of us are yet to develop the long term perspective that would make it easier for us to adopt the cooperative norms that would facilitate global action to reduce and eventually the global temperature increase.
That said, there have been some promising initiatives. Some national governments (most notably Germany) have taken the lead in adopting policies that prioritize the use of renewable energy. Even more such initiatives have been undertaken by cities and other subnational governments. Companies as different as WalMart and Apple have taken steps to reduce their corporate “contribution” to climate change which, in some cases, can have as much of an impact as that of a small country’s national government.
But the fact remains that few of the world’s major contributors to global warming have been able to summon up the political will to make it one of their most pressing political issues especially in the United States where so called climate change skeptics enjoy continued support.