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Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- And What It Means for Our Future
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Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed -- And What It Means for Our Future

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  108 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
From the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Conference there was a concerted international effort to stop climate change. Yet greenhouse gas emissions increased, atmospheric concentrations grew, and global warming became an observable fact of life.

In this book, philosopher Dale Jamieson explains what climate change is, why we have failed to stop it, and w
Hardcover, 266 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published February 3rd 2014)
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Jun 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Subtitled "Why the struggle against climate change failed, and what it means for our future", this is not a feel-good story about international efforts to stabilize the climate. Instead, Jamieson tells the story of the period from the Rio Earth Summit (1992) to the Copenhagen conference (2009) as a tragedy: a narrative that, starting with high hopes, has now, thanks to the flaws and mixed motives of the participants, ended by "locking in" a level of global warming above the threshold that they ...more
Sarah Clement
Oct 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: course-reads
Jamieson is a philosopher, so the first 5 chapters are the best, but particularly the part where he describes the nature of the problem and obstacles to action. Although he is not a scientist or political scientist, he still does a good job of bringing in elements of both through the work. What I like about Jamieson's work is that there is always a foundation of pragmatism in his discussion of philosophy. I don't think he gets at every single reason why we struggle to act on climate change, and ...more
Todd Martin
Apr 13, 2015 rated it it was ok
"The scientific evidence is clear: global climate change caused by human activities is occurring now, and it is a growing threat to society."
- American Association for the Advancement of Science

"Human‐induced climate change requires urgent action. Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Rapid societal responses can significantly lessen negative outcomes."
- American Geophysical Union

“Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evid
Jun 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Good and concise look at how international policy efforts have failed to "solve" the climate change problem. Here are some of my favorite parts:

A good summary quote:

"In many ways the first part of the story is unexceptional. The development of climate science has been similar to the development of other sciences: incremental contributions from many people, punctuated by occasional new insights and perspective, often enabled by the applications of innovative technologies.
In some ways the secon
Mar 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: climate
Notable quotes:

"We are constantly told that we stand at a unique moment in human history and that this is the last chance to make a difference. But every point in human history is unique, and it is always the last chance to make some particular difference."

"Human action is the driver, but it seems that things, no people, are in control. Our corporations, governments, technologies, institutions, and economic systems seem to have lives of their own."

"Many will be surprised to learn that in 1965 cl
Mar 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dale Jamieson coherently covers a lot of ground in this book and has many good footnotes. He explains the history of climate change politics and economics well, but his consideration of the causes and of climate change philosophy differentiate it from others in the climate policy field.

I especially liked Jamieson's mention of the role of science in US society. He notes the gulf in perspective between scientists and public policy makers caused by the requirements for "success" in their fields (6
Justin Powell
Nov 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
Dale Jamieson attempts to cover a lot of ground in a very short amount of time. He packs in tons of notes at the bottom of each page. This is not at all a feel good story and it most likely will not leave you in too great of a mood afterwards. Explaining and detailing the messy history of responses to climate change, or lack of is a depressing tale. While I think there was much that was brought up that could have been expanded on; especially the topic of morality, I do think he did a good job ov ...more
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Beginning with a remarkable account of the history of climate science, and the many international efforts to slow the rate of greenhouse gas emissions and and reduce the effects of anthropogenic climate change, philosopher Dale Jamieson brings a unique perspective on the global climate crisis. Reason in a Dark Time efficiently sifts through the many conflicting and misleading ideas about climate change and what, if anything should be done about it, arriving at a recommendations of 7 broad policy ...more
Jun 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a 4 star book because it provides a readable exposition of the important topic of climate change. I'm not aware of another like it which surveys the topic from so many povs: science, human psychology, economic theory, ethics, and politics (national and international).

Personally I think he doesn't give enough emphasis to population growth as a causal factor, and the likelihood of catastrophic change (chaos theory's prediction). But he does a great job of skewering geoengineering "solutio
Ragan Sutterfield
Feb 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book, along with McKibben's work, Willis Jenkins' "The Future of Ethics" and Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything," makes my list of must read books on climate change. As its title suggests it is a book looking at climate change through a lense trained in the analytical tradition of philosophy, but it is not a book that assumes a knowledge of that tradition. Key among its approaches is the assumption that climate change is not a theoretical possibility that we must raise awareness around, ...more
Aug 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is about why our struggle against climate change has failed and what it means for the future. He lists things that have caused climate change. One thing is we burn fossil fuels and put carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And we keep cutting down trees. This is giving the earth the Greenhouse effect and is making the planet warm up. Our population is increasing but our resources are not. We are already committed to change that is irreversible. We need to start now and change this path. ...more
Bruce Knotts
Jul 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Best book I've read on climate change. I got the chance to get to know Dale Jamieson while we were both speaking on Star Island. Dale in this book brings his expert knowledge on climate issues and philosophy to bear on this important topic. He outlines the many opportunities we've had over the past 50 years to stop climate change. Now its too late. Climate change has begun and the tipping point has past. What do we do now? Read this book and find out.
Eamonn Barrett
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
A book which explains better than any other why we are where we are with climate change. A wonderful example of the power and importance of philosophical thinking applied to real world problems. Curiously optimistic conclusion. Sure, we face an enormous problem, but we can deal with it. Very important book.
Michael Coates
Aug 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very dense, but very important discussion of climate change and what we can do about it.
Carlos Vasconcelos
Sep 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The best book on climate change. Though I'm still waiting to read the one from Naomi Klein.
Sarah Tobias
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Feb 21, 2016
Sarah Orchard
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Sep 21, 2016
Martin Rowe
Apr 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
A profoundly sobering analysis of the many and varied reasons why climate change is not only inevitable, but how and why we moved from reversal, to mitigation, to abatement, to adaptation, to resilience. Written before the signing of the Paris Accords 2015 and the arrival of the Trump administration, REASON IN A DARK TIME is nonetheless clear- and gimlet-eyed enough to recognize that no global deal, legislation, economic realignment, or technological development will reverse centuries of baked-i ...more
Jay Odenbaugh
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Jun 28, 2015
Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez
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Oct 30, 2015
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Oct 14, 2014
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Dale Jamieson has held visiting appointments at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He is currently Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, Affiliated Professor of Law, Affiliated Professor of Medical Ethics, and Director of the Animal Studies Initiative at New York University. He has published widely in environmenta ...more
More about Dale Jamieson...
“Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower created the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, an achievement that much of the Republican Party has been trying to undo over the past several decades. Richard Nixon signed into law four landmark federal bills: the Clean Air Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Environmental Pesticide Control Act, and the Endangered Species Act. He established the Environmental Protection Agency, and made many strong environmental appointments in his administration. As we saw in Section 2.2, it was when the Reagan administration came to power in 1980 that environmental concern began to become a partisan issue.” 2 likes
“nearly 80% of the energy consumed in the United States comes from fossil fuels, compared to only 60% of the energy consumed in France. It is thus not surprising that France’s per capita GHG emissions are lower than those of the United States (though it may still surprise that France’s per capita emissions are less than half those of the United States). France’s different energy mix and lower emissions are not simply a matter of luck or circumstance, though they may be experienced that way by some people. Policy choices regarding energy and transport go a long way toward explaining the differences between the United States and France.” 1 likes
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