Integrative Thinking in “Science, Policy, and Politics of Climate Change”

Before I took last semester’s Honors course, “Science, Policy and Politics of Climate Change,” I knew next to nothing about the political aspects of the climate change debacle, thinking that it was a problem based on science and able to be solved by learning this science and changing our lifestyles accordingly. In Honors 200 I was introduced to the problem from the national and international political perspectives, and suddenly I was able to understand exactly why the issue is so intractable. It’s not just simple science–economic challenges, issues of historical responsibility, and philosophical questions about the right to develop all come into play. I was most aware of this when doing the “Profile of a Nation” paper, in which we were required to research the environmental, political, and economic factors that contributed to the climate change position of a country of our choosing. In addition to allowing me to observe the issue from the perspective of a country that is foreign to me, Saudi Arabia, the assignment had the added benefit of requiring me to consider how all of those disparate factors acted together to create a nation’s negotiating position. For example, Saudi Arabia’s obstinate opposition to the international climate change regime is due in part to its economic dependence on oil exports, but also to its strict monarchy, which does not allow for the opinions of those who don’t agree with the state’s official positions to be expressed. I saw parallels with America, whose climate change agenda is also hindered by a mix of both political and economic factors. This knowledge allows me to be an informed climate activist, with the understanding that both political and economic pressure, and not just personal or community lifestyle changes, must be advocated in order for large-scale change to take place.

 

Saudi Arabia Climate Change Paper

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