Environmental Management

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 141-152

First online:

Adrift on a sea of platitudes: Why we will not resolve the greenhouse issue

  • Marvin WaterstoneAffiliated withDepartment of Geography and Regional Development, University of Arizona

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The issue of greenhouse warming has received a great deal of attention in recent years. It has become the object of much scientific scrutiny, media coverage, and political rhetoric. What is our current state of knowledge regarding this phenomenon? What are the possible options for preventing or slowing its advance, or for living with its consequences? What obstructs our taking actions to deal with this issue? These are the questions addressed here. Beginning with a brief overview of our current knowledge, I then examine potential policy options, and finally assess the likelihood of constructive actions. The conclusion reached is that we will probably not deal with this issue, not because we lack a sufficient understanding of the phenomenon, its consequences and workable solutions, but because we lack the philosophical, ethical, and political will to do so. As a result we are likely to continue to drift across a sea of platitudes.

Key words

Greenhouse warming Policy options Ethical issues Uncertainty