Signals from the future

The title is the phrase which leaps out from the thoughtful new report from Global Dashboard’s Alex Evans and David Steven. Their effort is directed at focussing ideas about how to respond to climate change on reshaping international institutions, which has to be right.

The phrase is supposed to mean that such institutions need to manage expectations, especially about the transition to low carbon regimes, so that people/governments act appropriately, that is to bring about the transition rapidly. OK, it is eye-catching, but it will be interesting to see if it will catch on as a way of describing self-fulfilling prophecies – good or otherwise. We all like to play around with these paradoxical word combinations (their blog is already subtitled “notes from the future”). But I would have thought the climate scientists have been sending pretty strong signals from the future for some time, without (yet) getting any very effective response.

That, of course, is the problem the report, which is well worth digesting, addresses. Response? Well, it does give an extra resonance to a comment, something of a throwaway, in a talk in Bristol last week from Arup’s tame futurist Chris Luebkeman. Toward the end of a generally upbeat talk, he remarked that he could not imagine how democracy can survive the advent of real climate change. Not sure if he meant that it will be so disruptive that governments all collapse and are susbstituted by dictatorial regimes, or that we will have to suspend democracy in order to deal with the consequences of global warming in any meaningful or effective way. I guess either interpretation could be argued for: the first one seems more plausible, if only because worst case climate change will wreck so many things…

Explore posts in the same categories: climate, politics

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