Reply to Ellen by Kristina Berglund
I agree Ellen that sometimes it was hard to fully follow Radkau’s arguments, and to know what to make of it all. I guess that partly has to do with the complexity and scale of the issue of climate change and the vast task of historicizing the environmental movement – it’s so broad and sometimes so hard to boil down and define. I found him to be very humble though in the sense that he also presented criticism of his work and seemed to be quite open for disapproval, objections and perceptions of others. That I think is a strength.
I also think that today’s politics, especially concerning the environment tend to be too short-sighted and not as daring it needs to be, considering the very real threats that not only are upon us in the future but also are evident today. But I also think he has a good point in saying that climate change policy needs to be grounded in ‘the vital needs of people alive today’. This connects to Gunnels quote in her comment to Radkau in his open lecture (not sure if you were there?) by Indira Ghandi who said that poverty is the biggest threat to tackle climate change. People struggling with finding enough food for the day has few possibilities to think about whether their choices are ‘environmental friendly’ or not. Climate change is as you mention such a complex issue and I think too that it is useful to break it down into more tangible issues where people find practical measures to take to reduce their own impacts. I thought it was interesting when he said that the lasting global success of environmentalism will hinge on whether it achieves a limited number of clear and simple regulations that people are able to understand – for example the smoking ban in public places. I see his point here, however it would have been interesting to hear more about his suggestions on how such regulations might look like in practice concerning measures to handle climate change.