Democracy and the climate problem
After Paris, there is naturally a lot of discussion about how the commitments made there are to be turned into effective actions. Framing this issue as one of creating or finding political will doesn’t seem to me very helpful, because the formula “political will” is really just shorthand for people wanting it enough - and that, after all is exactly the problem. Saying we need political will is like saying we won’t have a problem when there’s no problem. It would be better to ask what’s been going on in the democracies - those societies where you might expect the citizens to have responded in their ultimate best interest, because they are free to act on their own collective judgement. They pretty clearly haven’t been doing this - so why not? Could it be the case, as some have alleged, that democracies are handicapped in front of a problem like this? But if so, the world’s autocracies haven’t done any better. Could it be that modern democracies are suffering from disorders that are limiting their response capacity? If so, what are they and can they be fixed? Or is there perhaps something special about the climate problem that makes it difficult for any system to respond to it rationally?