Prepare For Rapid Societal Change

Prepare For Rapid Societal Change

Whether human society mitigates climate change, adapts to it, or fails at both, rapid social change is looming. Governments are going to need political mechanisms, an expert in global sustainability said last week, to navigate that rapid change.

“How do we build the politics?” asked Nathan Hultman, director of the Center for Global Sustainability at the University of Maryland. “At some point somebody has to actually do it and it’s not research, but we also want to understand the mechanisms by which politics can be built.”

Hultman appeared with other scientists on a panel convened by the National Academy of Science, Engineering and Medicine, looking into the role of social scientists can play in accelerating decarbonization to reduce the impacts of climate change.

“We know that it is by one definition feasible, and we can do it,” Hultman said. “There are lots of ways that we can probably theorize and conceptualize what it means to build politics for very rapid societal change of the kind that we’re going to see. That’s something that I feel people have taken a run at it, but that’s sort of an element that I feel like we, as a community, struggle with.”

Political scientists ought to be busy understanding and articulating, he said, the processes by which change can take place.

More from last week’s panel:

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