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Fast Forward

Fast Forward: Ethics and Politics in the Age of Global Warming

William Antholis
Strobe Talbott
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 2
Pages: 144
  • Book Info
    Fast Forward
    Book Description:

    Fast Forwardis equal parts science primer, history lesson, policy prescription, and ethical treatise. This pithy and compelling book makes clear what we know and don't know about global warming; why the threat demands prudent and urgent action; why the transition to a low-carbon economy will be the most difficult political and economic transaction in history; and how it requires nothing less than a revolution in our sense of civic responsibility.

    William Antholis and Strobe Talbott guide the reader through two decades of climate change politics and diplomacy, explaining the national and international factors that have influenced and often impeded domestic climate legislation and global negotiations. Recent United Nations-sponsored summits have demonstrated that the world cannot wait for a binding global treaty. Instead, the authors believe that the "Big Four" of America, the European Union, China, and India must lead the way forward. They recommend a new international mechanism modeled on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that would monitor national commitments and create incentives for other countries to coordinate their efforts to cut emissions.

    Antholis and Talbott put their recommendations for legislative and diplomatic action into the larger context of our obligation to future generations, echoing a theme stressed by a diverse coalition of religious leaders calling for ambitious action on climate change. The world we leave to our children and grandchildren is not an abstraction, or even just a legacy; we must think about what kind of world that will be in deciding how we live -and act -today.

    Praise forFast Forward

    "William Antholis and Strobe Talbott brilliantly explode the economic and scientific myths about climate change while elevating the political debate to a transgenerational moral crisis. Their synthesis of science, economics, religion, and philosophy is a clarion call to action for anyone interested in the future of the planet -which means all of us." -Andrea Mitchell, NBC News

    "In their very timely and fast-paced account of where we are today on the politics of global warming, the authors see Copenhagen as having pointed up the futility of relying on the United Nations as the only vehicle through which to tackle climate change." -Ed Luce, Financial Times

    "Strobe Talbott and Bill Antholis have made an admirable and important effort to move beyond the recent political rancor in Washington. They have a plan for leaders who want to be serious about energy and climate." -Senator Richard G. Lugar (R-Ill.)

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-2230-4
    Subjects: Political Science, Environmental Science, Economics

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-12)

    FOR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF YEARS, we and our ancestors have treated the earth as a laboratory in which we have tinkered with the forces of nature. From taming fire and harnessing wind to developing antibiotics, the results have often advanced civilization. Yet for the past two centuries, we have been conducting what could be the most momentous and dangerous of all experiments: warming the globe.

    We started the experiment without meaning to, and, until recently, we did not even know it was under way. Now it may be out of control, threatening to ruin our planet as a home...

    (pp. 13-23)

    IN THE SECOND HALF of the twentieth century, it took tens of trillions of dollars in military expenditures, a sustained combination of toughness and prudence as well as the indispensable element of luck to hold at bay the specter of a thermonuclear holocaust. The planet survived because the leaders responsible for the danger acted responsibly and effectively in preventing it. They understood that a scientific advance left them no choice but to think in a radically different way about national interests and the conduct of international relations.

    The result was a new ethical and political logic appropriate to the Nuclear...

    (pp. 24-45)

    SO WHAT IS THE SMARTEST thing we can do to mitigate climate change? The answer is easy: slow, stop, and then reverse the rate at which we—all 6.8 billion of us—are emitting greenhouse gases. What sort of deal will it take to accomplish that goal, and who should broker it? For twenty years, the answer has been a legally binding treaty that is to be negotiated through a process, run by the United Nations, that will commit all the major emitters to a strict schedule of deep reductions. The trouble is, that process is not working. The greater...

    (pp. 46-57)

    UNTIL NEAR THE END of his long run for the presidency, Barack Obama put energy and climate at the top of his list of domestic priorities, above health care and education. He promised to implement a comprehensive (or “economywide”) cap-and-trade program, reduce greenhouse gas emissions 83 percent by 2050, and return the United States to world leadership on climate change.

    In the final weeks of the campaign, the nation and the world were hit by the worst crisis in the financial system since the Great Depression. The collapse had a profound and somewhat paradoxical effect on the politics of global...

    (pp. 58-75)

    AS ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS LOOKED AHEAD to the Fifteenth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (“COP 15”), some optimists among them called the Danish capital “Hopenhagen.”* After the meeting was over, the city had a new nickname: “Brokenhagen.”39

    What actually happened in Copenhagen during the twelve days in the second and third weeks of December 2009 was a potential turning point. In dashing unrealistic hopes, the conference provided an incentive to fix, or at least improve, a diplomatic process that was, if not already hopelessly broken, then moving much too slowly to keep pace with...

    (pp. 76-94)

    THE INNER CIRCLE FOR THE NEXT PHASE of climate diplomacy already exists. It is made up of the United States, the European Union, China, and India. They account for nearly half the world’s population (3.3 billion out of 6.8 billion), 63 percent of the global GDP, and two-thirds of all civilian nuclear reactors. The four are also the world’s top four emitters of carbon dioxide, accounting for about 60 percent of the total.

    Moreover, the Big Four bridge the divide consecrated by the Berlin Mandate. The United States and the European Union clearly lead the developed world, with a combined...

    (pp. 95-118)

    BEFORE PRESIDENT OBAMA CAN SUCCEED as a world leader on the issue of global warming, he must succeed as a national leader. During his first term, his effort to work with both parties in both houses of Congress to pass comprehensive climate and energy legislation has been stymied, leaving him to make as much as he can out of progress on investment in clean energy and “energy security,” two goals that are compatible with lowering greenhouse gas emissions.

    As Obama throws himself into that task, none of his political skills will be more important than his ability to use words...

    (pp. 119-124)
    W.J.A and S.T.
  11. NOTES
    (pp. 125-136)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 137-144)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 145-145)