Democracy in a Hotter Time

Climate Change and Democratic Transformation

The first major book to deal with the dual crises of democracy and climate change as one interrelated threat to the human future and to identify a path forward.

“Democracy in a Hotter Time” calls for reforming democratic institutions as a prerequisite for avoiding climate chaos and adapting governance to how Earth works as a physical system. To survive in the “long emergency” ahead, we must reform and strengthen democratic institutions, making them assets rather than liabilities. Edited by David W. Orr, this vital collection of essays proposes a new political order that will not only help humanity survive but also enable us to thrive in the transition to a post–fossil fuel world.

Orr gathers leading scholars, public intellectuals, and political leaders to address the many problems confronting our current political systems. Few other books have taken a systems view of the effects of a rapidly destabilizing climate on our laws and governance or offered such a diversity of solutions. These thoughtful and incisive essays cover subjects from constitutional reform to participatory urban design to education; together, they aim to invigorate the conversation about the human future in practical ways that will improve the effectiveness of democratic institutions and lay the foundation for a more durable and just democracy.

ASU President Michael M. Crow was one of the contributors; the rest are: William J. Barber III, JD, William S. Becker, Holly Jean Buck, Stan Cox, William B. Dabars, Ann Florini, David H. Guston, Katrina Kuh, Gordon LaForge, Hélène Landemore, Frances Moore Lappé, Daniel Lindvall, Richard Louv, James R. May, Frederick W. Mayer, Bill McKibben, Michael Oppenheimer, David W. Orr, Wellington Reiter, Kim Stanley Robinson, Anne-Marie Slaughter


Michael M. Crow is an educator, knowledge enterprise architect, science and technology policy scholar and higher education leader. He became the sixteenth president of Arizona State University in July 2002 and has spearheaded ASU’s rapid and groundbreaking transformative evolution into one of the world’s best public metropolitan research universities. As a model “New American University,” ASU simultaneously demonstrates comprehensive excellence, inclusivity representative of the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity of the United States, and consequential societal impact.

Under Crow’s leadership, ASU has established more than 25 new transdisciplinary schools, including the School of Earth and Space Exploration, the School for the Future of Innovation in Society and the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, and launched trailblazing multidisciplinary initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory, and important initiatives in the humanities and social sciences.

Praise for this book

Each beautiful essay in this collection taps out the truth of this unparalleled moment in the human story: The life-and-death challenges of a hotter time are inseparable from the imperative to defend, renew, and enlarge the global democratic prospect.

Shoshana Zuboff Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School; author of “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”

As temperatures rise, tempers are certain to heat up, too. Without functioning democracies, the result will be a raw fight for power—locally, nationally, and globally—and an evaporation of the cooperative spirit essential for climate action. Democracy is what keeps social power in check, and US democracy now hangs by a thread. The authors offer clear analysis, along with brilliant suggestions for how to rebuild the civic trust on which our future depends.

Richard Heinberg Author of “Power: Limits and Prospects for Human Survival”
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The MIT Press
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