Letter from the Editors

Article excerpt

Climate change may prove to be the defining problem of the 21st century. In the last few years, this realization has swept has swept across the globe, increasing awareness of global warming as well as elevating concern about the future of our planet. Once a topic left to the scientific community, climate change has now captured the attention of the mainstream media, NGOs, the Nobel Committee, international organizations, and national politicians.

Choosing this familiar topic as our featured symposium both signals our concern for climate change and allows us to shed new light on the issue. We have put aside many of the scientific questions--how, when, and where weather patterns and sea levels will change and how these changes will affect our race--in favor of a set of political questions. Despite the transcendent stakes of global warning, our understanding of the phenomenon and our response to it are both grounded upon existing political institutions. The authors contributing to this symposium take this reality not as a conclusion, but as a starting point. This enables them to investigate how our political institutions--whether international organizations or bipartisan committees--should respond to climate change.

Roger Pielke, Jr. opens our symposium with a search for ways to preserve the objectivity and integrity of scientific information in highly politicized settings. Richard Perkins follows, investigating how climate change can connect, rather than divide, the developed and developing worlds. John Marburger takes fresh look at the issue of climate change through a well-known lens: the metaphor of the tragedy of the commons. Alexander Bedritsky, using insight gained by serving as the organization's president, gives us a first-hand account of the World Meteorological Organization's rise in prominence. Next, Hein-Anton van der Heijden argues that despite considerable effort, the European Union's political responses to climate change have thus far been inadequate. Finally, Nigel Purvis closes the symposium, mounting an ambitious yet pragmatic argument for the United States to use the model of trade negotiations in order to craft effective climate change treaties. …