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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

World leaders say climate change is one of the most serious threats facing humanity. Are they right? If they are, who is going to do what about it? Who will benefit and who will pay? openDemocracy invites you to take part in one of the hottest debates of our times.

The Vatican, the planet, and America

Pope Francis's document on the earth's future has become entangled in Vatican politics. But its most fraught reception will be in the United States.

Pope Francis and climate politics

A Vatican document links a hot planet to world poverty and the need for change. Its immediate impact may be on the United States presidential race.

Climate change: the south gets real

The pace of reaction to the global climate emergency is increasing, and vulnerable states in the global south are often in the lead.

Climate-chaos migrants set to face increasingly closed borders

Climate change is set to trigger dangerously soaring temperatures this century, forcing many of humankind’s most vulnerable to migrate to survive. Yet the growing global obsession with border security will stifle their safe movement.

Latin Americans pay price for corporate environmental destruction

As the COP20 conference comes to a close in Lima, can the corporations whose ‘externalities’ foster climate change ever be brought to book?

The conflict horizon

The last two decades have seen a growing global appetite for peace but unless concerted, informed action is taken the next two could bring darker times

A different climate

Many new paths to climate action are being taken, with the global south in the forefront. Even modest support and publicity from their northern counterparts can bring huge benefits. 

Climate politics: a melting glacier...

A new political tone on climate change in Britain is matched by a breakthrough in understanding the retreat of tropical glaciers.

A flooded future: Essex to the world

Two floods, two eras, two worlds. The contrast between 1953 and 2014 in southern England is a lesson both in class and climate change.  

The Arctic disconnect

If long-term climate disruption is a reality, so is the prospect of short-term benefit for states such as Canada and Russia. But their governments' denial of climate change looks back not forward. 

Welcome to 'frackland': does a river have the right not to be polluted?

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas or ‘fracking’ is one of the dirtiest forms of energy on the planet. Halting its destructive impact requires regulation and community control, but also something much deeper: the transformation of relationships between society and nature.

2014, a climate emergency

The accelerating pace of extreme weather events is an acute challenge to political leaders.

Climate change: canary to ghost

The oil-and-gas industry is impervious to extreme weather events, from the Philippines to Sardinia. But both precedent and experience could turn its world upside down - and soon. 

Sharing our future: how the world can avert climate chaos

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calculated a ‘budget’ for greenhouse gas emissions  if global average temperature rise is to be contained within 1.5-2C. Amid fractious debates between rich and poor at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Phil England spoke to Christian Aid’s expert, Mohamed Adow, about how countries could agree to share the remaining allowable emissions.

The climate cliff: nuclear echoes

During the cold war, nuclear near-catastrophe provoked an enlightened political response. Will history be repeated over the climate emergency?

The IPCC and new climate paths

The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a unique public service that produces valuable scientific reports. But is yet another 1,000-page document what is needed now, asks Øyvind Paasche.

The global climate cliff

A combination of extreme weather events and a coming temperature rise may be enough to induce the serious political shift needed over climate change.

India Burning

When the rice harvest season finishes in a few weeks, fields in India will turn black as farmers burn thousands of acres. This practice shows one of the failures of the Green Revolution, with devastating regional and global consequences. A food-security-obsessed India cannot ignore these issues for much longer.

Democracy and sustainability: a joint cause

A new manifesto argues that the advance of democracy and of sustainable development is at heart a shared endeavour. Halina Ward & Clare Shine explain the initiative’s purpose and invite support.

Climate change: time to transform

The understanding of global climate change has deepened since the 1970s, in parallel with voluminous research into and clear scientific evidence of its reality. The obstacles to recognition remain powerful. But this, the 2010s, really is the crucial decade.

Climate politics: hockey-stick to hamster-wheel

The containment of greenhouse-gas emissions requires political will. But to get to that point the debate about global warming needs to escape from two key diversions, says Øyvind Paasche. 


What is energy for?

So familiar has the social economy of energy become in modern societies, so routine its extraordinardinary wastefulness, so toxic its effects, that the capacity for a better way can be missed. By questioning the how, why and what of energy use, says Rebecca Willis, new possibilities - of living, travelling, eating, working and buying - can open

Water in the Arab Spring

Water scarcity in the Middle East & North Africa is at the root of the region’s uprisings. In the coming years, it will also be the source of further social unrest across the region.

A world in crisis: echo, need, hope

A fresh awareness of system-failure and resource-constraint draws on the experience and ideas of the 1970s. But this time the vision of radical change is real possibility as well as urgent necessity.

(This article was first published on 1 December 2011)

Giant strides or fairy footsteps

How much progress can be made in tackling climate change without a global deal?

The world’s food crisis: time to move

The international response to the food crisis of 2011 is less energetic and coherent than during the last emergency, in 2008. Both economic understanding and political impetus need to be improved, says Simon Maxwell.

An extreme climate: dangers and needs

Both regional weather disasters and global climate trends present compelling arguments for political and economic action on a systemic scale. But the obstacles to this remain formidable.

The new Arctic: trade, science, politics

The opening of the Arctic to ship-passage will transform the region’s political as well as environmental landscape, says Øyvind Paasche.

Japan: from tsunami to change

The effects of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan’s northeast will be felt for years to come. How Japan responds will help to define its capacity to meet other 21st-century tests, says David Hayes.

The politics of climate finance

A high-level international report on how financial resources can be raised to help developing countries address climate change is a disappointing and politics-free compromise. Simon Maxwell proposes a way beyond it.

Ed Miliband’s global moment

The election of a new leader of Britain’s opposition Labour Party is a rare opportunity to put fresh thinking on global security at the heart of the political agenda.


In a return to the putrid nightmare of post-Katrina New Orleans, Jim Gabour learns the hard way about what is needed to keep on the right side of life. First published September 5th 2005. Updated August 24th 2010.

Ecocentrism: a response to Paul Kingsnorth

Paul Kingsnorth’s journey from a degraded environmentalism to nature-centred ways of living and thinking has many echoes for Andrew Dobson, but also clarifies a difference of outlook.

Confessions of a recovering environmentalist

"Environmentalism, which in its raw, early form had no time for the encrusted, seized-up politics of left and right, has been sucked into the yawning, bottomless chasm of the 'progressive' left." A personal, twenty-year journey through the world’s wild places and the movements to protect them is also, for Paul Kingsnorth, an education in the limits of a project that has forgotten nature and lost its soul.

After climategate: forward to reality

A series of careful reports into the leaked emails of climate scientists provides a consistent account of the "climategate" saga. This allows a welcome refocus on the problems of climate change and the role of the IPCC, says Øyvind Paasche.
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