Climate change, a new political order? 🌎🎙
On New Year’s Day, the far-right populist Jair Bolsonaro took power in Brazil, posing an urgent threat to Brazilians and to the planet. Bolsonaro has promised to open up the Amazon to rapid development and deforestation, which would lead to the release of massive amounts of carbon into the air and the destruction of one of the earth’s most potent tools in limiting global warming. Like President Trump, Bolsonaro is making environmental decisions that could be calamitous far beyond national borders.
In “Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future,” Joel Wainwright, a professor of geography at Ohio State University, and Geoff Mann, the director of the Center for Global Political Economy at Simon Fraser University, consider how to approach a problem of such international dimensions. They look at several different political futures for our warming planet, and argue that a more forceful international order, or “Climate Leviathan,” is emerging, but unlikely to mitigate catastrophic warming.
« I think one of the interesting things that’s happening right now is that we have so few political, institutional tools, and conceptual tools to handle the kinds of changes that are required. In the book, we lay out what we think of as possible futures. They’re really broad, and there’s lots of room for maneuvers in them. One of them is what we call Climate Leviathan. Another one is Climate Mao—that would be a sovereign, but it would operate more on the principles of what we might think of as a Maoist tradition, a quasi-authoritarian attempt to fix climate change by getting everyone in line. Then there’s the Behemoth [a reactionary order].
The last thing we call Climate X, and that’s the hopeful scenario. We’re going to see activity happening at local levels, bridges across boundaries that you don’t think about now, institutions refuting the state entirely, building new alliances, discovering ways of managing the collapsing ecosystems and political institutions around in creative ways. Our hope is that we reinforce what is already happening in so many communities. »