It’s not just the climate that needs fixing

Jonathan Side*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
20 Downloads (Pure)


In a world which is ‘hanging by a thread', or conversely ‘teetering on the brink', where ‘humanity stands at the precipice', systems thinking can offer clarity when confronted with the unwitting distraction of cliché riddled aphorisms. By the examination of the earth system, its externalities in relation to economic development and perspectives of our relationship to the global commons within the economy, within government and within the established literature, a series of propositions are developed. Some are used subsequently to offer explanation of current approaches to climate change; others highlight the obvious importance of systems thinking to the engineering professions. Finally, in a brief discussion, these propositions are used syllogistically to suggest that rationalism and universal self-interest will avoid irreversible climate change and its associated environmental apocalypse. Conflicting interests and self-interest, inter alia, within the global system of production and development suggest that the achievement of basic human rights and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, however rational and well supported, will prove rather more intractable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalCivil Engineering and Environmental Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2022


  • climate
  • commons
  • distributive justice
  • environmental ethics
  • poverty
  • UN Sustainable Development Goals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering


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