Professor Glen MacDonald, John Muir Memorial Chair in Geography, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Geography at UCLA and visiting Global Fellow in the School of Geography and Sustainable Development will present this I-POWER seminar on ‘Climate, Capital, Conflict: Geographies of Failure or Success in the 21st Century’.
For half of a century scientists have used general circulation models to calculate the potential of anthropogenic greenhouse gasses to alter the earth’s climate. Over the last three decades, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has issued five high-profile Assessment Reports on the existential threats posed by this phenomenon. Yet, emissions of greenhouse gases continue at record rates, maximum temperature records are broken with increasing frequency, glaciers are melting at unprecedented rates and the rise in mean level of the world’s oceans is accelerating.
The financial costs to mitigate and/or adapt to these changes is similarly accelerating. At the same time we are experiencing accelerating growth in the inequality of capital. If we consider the geography of climate change and capital today it is clear that some of the worst impacts and greatest deficits of capital to offset climate change are concentrated in a fatal geographic ellipse centering on the equator and embracing the former colonial regions of the Global South. This is a bitter irony as these regions paid a heavy price for both the economic development of the Global North and will similarly pay an unequal share of the toll for the greenhouse gasses resulting from that development.
Although it is projected that armed conflict could increase due to climate change, there is also critical scientific, ideological and policy conflict on how to best address the climate change challenge. General approaches include Geoengineering, Technology Substitution, Consumer Behaviour Modification, Neo-Liberal Economic Reform, and Radical Socioeconomic Transformation. None of these approaches is without problems of past/current performance or potential future consequences. There is still time to act effectively. This will require, however, a more focused approach utilizing a variety of carefully selected technological, economic and sociological tools – and must have as foundational an explicit geographical perspective.
The seminar will be followed by a reception in the Forbes Room, Irvine Building.