Rendee Slowden, a specialist in international relations and political science from Florida and Professor Michael Klare, director of the Five College Program in peace and world security from Hampshire College, discuss these questions.
Professor Klare says that if we are talking about the US, then we have to realize that there is a deep split in society on this issue. “Many US States led by California, are adamantly opposed to the decision [to abandon the Paris Climate Accord]; many large corporations such as Google and Apple are opposed to the decision. On the other hand there are powerful fossil fuel companies that do support this…”
Rendee Slowden points out that climate change is not something that can be addressed on the level of nation states. There has to be a global consensus, from a liberal perspective, not a realist perspective where the nation state is the most crucial unit, she says. “We care so much about national security, but climate change is the greatest threat to security that we will have to tackle.”
The politicization of the climate change issue is discussed. Professor Klare says that: “the climate deniers are people who oppose government regulation. With Brexit they oppose the EU and all the regulation involved with the EU. In the US, the climate deniers are people who do not want restrictions on fracking, or on other energy production…”
Host John Harrison suggests that there is a link between nationalism and climate change denial, but it is a constructed link, because a real link doesn’t actually exist. Rendee Slowden points out that there is a link, and it is big business. Professor Klare says that he worries very much that the return to realism means that nation states will not be wishing to voluntarily participate in a new international climate change program, and this sort of realpolitik can be witnessed by Trump’s attitude to NATO.
The program makes clear that if alliances keep disintegrating at the current pace globally and we don’t address the problem of climate change, all of us are going to suffer. The program ends with a discussion about the consequences of the United States receding as the world global power in relation to the connection between nationalism and climate change denial.
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