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Political Science and Severe Climate Change: A Case for Transformational Research Into Adaptation

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The failure of governments to mandate the greenhouse gas emissions cuts necessary to avoid serious climate change means that adaptation strategies will be essential. The more serious the climate change, the more robust adaptation will have to be. Political scientists should strive to understand and anticipate the likely political and policy challenges of climate change and the necessary adaptation measures. This article identifies avenues by which political science research can contribute to understanding what can and should be done as global climate disruption intensifies. It briefly reviews changing official conceptions of adaptation, describes the likely level of adaptation required, and highlights additional contributions that political scientists could make to understanding obstacles and opportunities for adaptation to severe climate disruption. Because of potential catastrophic impacts from climate change, the politics of adaptation is among the most important problems that political scientists can address. Critical analyses may be essential.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2017

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  • The St Antony's International Review (STAIR) is the only peer-reviewed journal of international affairs at the University of Oxford. Set up by graduate students of St Antony's College in 2005, the Review has carved out a distinctive niche as a cross-disciplinary outlet for research on the most pressing contemporary global issues, providing a forum in which emerging scholars can publish their work alongside established academics and policymakers. Past contributors include Robert O. Keohane, James N. Rosenau, and Alfred Stepan.
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