Utopian and dystopian thought in climate change science and policy
2009 (English)In: FUTURES, ISSN 0016-3287, Vol. 41, no 4, 234-245 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Climate change policies are increasingly seen as integral to sustainable development policies. This article examines how visions of future society have been employed in climate science and multilateral negotiations. Using elements of utopian and dystopian thought, we have categorized UNFCCC documents, IPCC assessments, and special reports and peer-reviewed climate policy articles. Our results indicate that utopian thinking surfaces with reference to sustainable development and emissions scenarios. Such visions of future society fall into three categories: projections, dystopian thought, and utopian thought. Dystopian thought is mainly evident in the rhetoric of various actors, and is used to spur action or inaction, to avoid either economic catastrophe by acting too fast or ecological catastrophe by not acting fast enough. Utopian elements in climate change science and policy refer to decoupling greenhouse gases and economic growth, evenly distributing the benefits of economic globalization, and smoothing technological development. The present piecemeal invocation of sustainable development concepts in climate science and policy emphasizes the difficulties of integrating environmental, social, and economic concerns. The article concludes that utopian thinking regarding sustainable development could result in more integrated and holistic visions of future society in climate science and policy.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2009. Vol. 41, no 4, 234-245 p.
Social Sciences Earth and Related Environmental Sciences
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-18392DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2008.09.007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-18392DiVA: diva2:218893