Beyond Wickedness: Managing Complex Systems and Climate Change
32 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2020
Date Written: September 18, 2020
This Article examines the argument that climate change is a “super-wicked” problem. It concludes that the wicked problem concept is best viewed as a rhetorical device that served a valuable function in arguing against technocratic hubris in the early 1970s but is unhelpful and possibly counterproductive as a tool for modern climate policy analysis. Richard Lazarus improved on this analysis by emphasizing the urgency of a climate response in his characterization of the climate problem as “super-wicked.” We suggest another approach based on Charles Lindblom’s “science of muddling through.” The muddling through approach supports the rhetorical points for which the original wicked problem concept was introduced and provides greater practical guidance for developing new laws and policies to address climate change and other complex and messy environmental problems.
Keywords: Wicked problems, muddling, climate change, environment, policymaking, climate initiatives, private governance, governance, environmental law
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