If climatechange represents a severe threat to humankind, why then is response to it characterized by inaction at all levels? The authors argue there are two complementary explanations for the lack of motivation. First, our moral judgment system appears to be unable to identify climatechange as an important moral problem and there are pervasive doubts about the agency of individuals. This explanation, however, is incomplete: Individual emitters can effectively be held morally responsible for their (...) luxury emissions. Second, doubts about individual agency have become overly emphasized and fail to convincingly exonerate individuals from responsibility. This book extends the second explanation for the motivational gap, namely that the arguments for the lack of individual agency do in fact correspond to mechanisms of moral disengagement. The use of these mechanisms enables consumption elites to maintain their consumptive lifestyles without having to accept moral responsibility for their luxury emissions. (shrink)
Climatechange and justice are so closely associated that many people take it for granted that a global climate treaty should--indeed, must--directly address both issues together. But, in fact, this would be a serious mistake, one that, by dooming effective international limits on greenhouse gases, would actually make the world's poor and developing nations far worse off. This is the provocative and original argument of ClimateChange Justice. Eric Posner and David Weisbach strongly favor both (...) a climatechange agreement and efforts to improve economic justice. But they make a powerful case that the best--and possibly only--way to get an effective climate treaty is to exclude measures designed to redistribute wealth or address historical wrongs against underdeveloped countries. In clear language, ClimateChange Justice proposes four basic principles for designing the only kind of climate treaty that will work--a forward-looking agreement that requires every country to make greenhouse--gas reductions but still makes every country better off in its own view. This kind of treaty has the best chance of actually controlling climatechange and improving the welfare of people around the world. (shrink)
While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC’s (...) preferred way of representing uncertainties and evaluates its strengths and weaknesses from a risk management perspective. Three general strategies for decision-makers to cope with climate uncertainty are outlined, the usefulness of which largely depends on whether or not decision-makers find themselves in a context of deep uncertainty. The chapter concludes by offering two recommendations to ease the work of policymakers, faced with the various uncertainties engrained in climate discourse. (shrink)
ClimateChange and the Moral Agent examines the moral foundations of climatechange and makes a case for collective action on climatechange by appealing to moralized collective self-interest, collective ability to aid, and an expanded understanding of collective responsibility for harm.
Climatechange poses grave threats to many people, including the most vulnerable. This prompts the question of who should bear the burden of combating ?dangerous? climatechange. Many appeal to the Polluter Pays Principle. I argue that it should play an important role in any adequate analysis of the responsibility to combat climatechange, but suggest that it suffers from three limitations and that it needs to be revised. I then consider the Ability to (...) Pay Principle and consider four objections to this principle. I suggest that, when suitably modified, it can supplement the Polluter Pays Principle. (shrink)
This book examines from different perspectives the moral significance of non-human members of the biotic community and their omission from climate ethics literature. The complexity of life in an age of rapid climatechange demands the development of moral frameworks that recognize and respect the dignity and agency of both human and non-human organisms. Despite decades of careful work in non-anthropocentric approaches to environmental ethics, recent anthologies on climate ethics have largely omitted non-anthropocentric approaches. This multidisciplinary (...) volume of international scholars tackles this lacuna by presenting novel work on non-anthropocentric approaches to climate ethics. Written in an accessible style, the text incorporates sentiocentric, biocentric, and ecocentric perspectives on climatechange. With diverse perspectives from both leading and emerging scholars of environmental ethics, geography, religious studies, conservation ecology, and environmental studies, this book will offer a valuable reading for students and scholars of these fields. (shrink)
Several philosophers claim that the greenhouse gas emissions from actions like a Sunday drive are so miniscule that they will make no difference whatsoever with regard to anthropogenic global climatechange (AGCC) and its expected harms. This paper argues that this claim of individual causal inefficacy is false. First, if AGCC is not reducible at least in part to ordinary actions, then the cause would have to be a metaphysically odd emergent entity. Second, a plausible (dis-)utility calculation reveals (...) that such actions have a not-insignificant amount of expected harm. One upshot is that the near-exclusive focus in the literature on AGCC as a collective action problem is too restricted. The paper also provides several moral psychological explanations of why it is so difficult to comprehend individual responsibility with regard to global phenomena, including a reappraisal of Thomas Nagel’s view of the absurd. (shrink)
Climatechange confronts us with our most pressing challenges today. The global consensus is clear that human activity is mostly to blame for its harmful effects, but there is disagreement about what should be done. While no shortage of proposals from ecological footprints and the polluter pays principle to adaptation technology and economic reforms, each offers a solution – but is climatechange a problem we can solve? In this provocative new book, these popular proposals for (...) ending or overcoming the threat of climatechange are shown to offer no easy escape and each rest on an important mistake. Thom Brooks argues that a future environmental catastrophe is an event we can only delay or endure, but not avoid. This raises new ethical questions about how we should think about climatechange. How should we reconceive sustainability without a status quo? Why is action more urgent and necessary than previously thought? What can we do to motivate and inspire hope? Many have misunderstood the kind of problem that climatechange presents – as well as the daunting challenges we must face and overcome. ClimateChange Ethics for an Endangered World is a critical guide on how we can better understand the fragile world around us before it is too late. This innovative book will be of great interest to students and scholars of climatechange, climate justice, environmental policy and environmental ethics. "This book offers a rare combination of tough-mindedness, analytic rigor, and passion as it tackles the greatest challenge of our time―climatechange. For Brooks, it’s past time to acknowledge that climatechange cannot be solved though the careful selection of good polices. Climatechange is an unavoidable tragedy that we must endure but may be able to survive. Offering a program that emphasizes flexibility and adaptation, Brooks brings original insights to a debate that too long has been bogged down in wishful thinking and empty scholasticism." Professor Eric Posner, Kirkland & Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago's Law School. (shrink)
The book addresses the climatechange crisis through scientific, historical and spiritual lenses. Using Lonergan's functional specialization method,it analyzes data to rebut the claims of climatechange deniers. It seeks to motivate and coordinate needed action by persons, groups and nations. Lonergan's method helps us study the past with a view to change the future.
This essay examines the relationship between climatechange and human rights. It argues that climatechange is unjust, in part, because it jeopardizes several core rights – including the right to life, the right to food and the right to health. It then argues that adopting a human rights framework has six implications for climate policies. To give some examples, it argues that this helps us to understand the concept of “dangerous anthropogenic interference” (UNFCCC, Article (...) 2). In addition to this, it argues that if we adopt a human rights framework then any climate policies should also honour human rights, and so mitigation policies, for example, should not compromise people’s enjoyment of their human rights. A third implication, I argue, is that in addition to duties of mitigation and adaptation there will also be – if rights are violated – duties of compensation too. (shrink)
In this paper I make the following claims. In order to see anthropogenic climatechange as clearly involving moral wrongs and global injustices, we will have to revise some central concepts in these domains. Moreover, climatechange threatens another value that cannot easily be taken up by concerns of global justice or moral responsibility.
Although actions of individuals do contribute to climatechange, the question whether or not they, too, are morally obligated to reduce the GHG emissions in their responsibility has not yet been addressed sufficiently. First, I discuss prominent objections to such a duty. I argue that whether individuals ought to reduce their emissions depends on whether or not they exceed their fair share of emission rights. In a next step I discuss several proposals for establishing fair shares and also (...) take practical considerations into account. I conclude that individuals should not always be obliged to reduce their emissions to what is their fair share for they may depend on carbon-intensive structures. Instead, they have a Kantian imperfect duty to reduce their emissions ‘as far as can reasonably be demanded of them’. In addition, they should press governments to introduce proper regulation. At the end, I further specify both duties. (shrink)
This paper examines what agents should do when others fail to comply with their responsibilities to prevent dangerous climatechange. It distinguishes between six different possible responses to noncompliance. These include what I term (1) 'target modification' (watering down the extent to which we seek to prevent climatechange), (2) ‘responsibility reallocation’ (reassigning responsibilities to other duty bearers), (3) ‘burden shifting I’ (allowing duty bearers to implement policies which impose unjust burdens on others, (4) 'burden shifting (...) II’ (allowing some to protect peoples rights in ways which impose otherwise unjustified burdens on the duty bearers, (5) 'compromising moral ideals' (permitting agents to compromise non-justice ideals that they are otherwise bound by); and (6) ‘promoting compliance (implementing policies and creating institutions which reduce noncompliance). It concludes by outlining a methodological framework for evaluating these options, and by setting out my tentative and provisional evaluation of which responses are the least bad. (shrink)
Environmental ethicists have not reached a consensus about whether or not individuals who contribute to climatechange have a moral obligation to reduce their personal greenhouse gas emissions. In this paper, I side with those who think that such individuals do have such an obligation by appealing to the concept of integrity. I argue that adopting a political commitment to work toward a collective solution to climatechange—a commitment we all ought to share—requires also adopting a (...) personal commitment to reduce one’s emissions. On these grounds, individuals who contribute to climatechange have a prima facie moral duty to lower their personal greenhouse gas emissions. After presenting this argument and supporting each of its premises, I defend it from two major lines of objection: skepticism about integrity’s status as a virtue and concerns that the resulting moral duty would be too demanding to be morally required. I then consider the role that an appeal to integrity could play in galvanizing the American public to take personal and political action regarding climatechange. (shrink)
Climatechange is projected to have very severe impacts on future generations. Given this, any adequate response to it has to consider the nature of our obligations to future generations. This paper seeks to do that and to relate this to the way that inter-generational justice is often framed by economic analyses of climatechange. To do this the paper considers three kinds of considerations that, it has been argued, should guide the kinds of actions that (...) one generation should take if it is to treat both current and future people equitably. In particular it examines the case for what has been termed pure time discounting, growth discounting and opportunity cost discounting; and it assesses their implications for climate policy. It argues that none of these support the claims of those who think they give us reason to delay aggressive mitigation policies. It also finds, however, that the second kind of argument can, in certain circumstances, provide support for passing on some of the costs of mitigation to future generations. (shrink)
Of this article's seven experiments, the first five demonstrate that virtually no Americans know the basic global warming mechanism. Fortunately, Experiments 2–5 found that 2–45 min of physical–chemical climate instruction durably increased such understandings. This mechanistic learning, or merely receiving seven highly germane statistical facts, also increased climate-change acceptance—across the liberal-conservative spectrum. However, Experiment 7's misleading statistics decreased such acceptance. These readily available attitudinal and conceptual changes through scientific information disconfirm what we term “stasis theory”—which some researchers (...) and many laypeople varyingly maintain. Stasis theory subsumes the claim that informing people about climate science may be largely futile or even counterproductive—a view that appears historically naïve, suffers from range restrictions, and/or misinterprets some polarization and correlational data. Our studies evidenced no polarizations. Finally, we introduce HowGlobalWarmingWorks.org—a website designed to directly enhance public “climate-change cognition.”. (shrink)
Under the UNHCR definition of a refugee, set out in the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, people fleeing their homes because of natural disasters or other environmental problems do not qualify for refugee status and the protection that come from such status. In a recent paper, "Who Are Refugees?", I defended the essentials of the UNHCR definition on the grounds that refugee status and protection is best reserved for people who can only be helped by granting them (...) refuge in a safe state for an indefinite period of time, and argued that this does not include most people fleeing from natural disasters. This claim is most strongly challenged by possibility of displacement from climatechange. In this paper I will explore to what degree the logic of the refugee convention, as set out in my earlier paper, can and should be extended to those fleeing the results of climatechange, and will argue that the logic of the refugee convention tells in favor of extending refugee protection to a portion of those who must flee their homes because of climate-change related environmental problems. (shrink)
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argues, on the relationship between individual emissions and climatechange, that “we cannot claim to know that it is morally wrong to drive a gas guzzler just for fun” or engage in other inessential emissions-producing individual activities. His concern is not uncertainty about the phenomenon of climatechange, nor about human contribution to it. Rather, on Sinnott-Armstrong’s analysis the claim of individual moral responsibility for emissions must be grounded in a defensible moral principle, yet (...) no principle withstands scrutiny. I argue thatthe moral significance of individual emissions is obscured by this critique. I offer a moral principle, the threshold-contribution principle, capable of withstanding Sinnott-Armstrong’s criticisms while also plausibly explaining what’s wrong with gas-guzzling joyrides and other gratuitous emissions-producing individual acts. (shrink)
Climatechange creates unprecedented problems of intergenerational justice. What do members of the current generation owe to future generations in virtue of the contribution they are making to climatechange? Providing important new insights within the theoretical framework of political liberalism, ClimateChange and Future Justice presents arguments in three key areas: Mitigation: the current generation ought to adopt a strong precautionary principle in formulating climatechange policy in order to minimise the (...) risks of serious harm from climatechange imposed on future generations Adaptation: the current generation ought to create a fund to which members of future generations may apply for compensation if the risks of climatechange harm imposed on them by the current generation ripen into harms Triage: future generations ought to keep alive hope for a return to the framework of justice for the social cooperation of future people less burdened by climatechange harms. This work presents agenda-setting applications of important principles of democratic equality to the most serious set of political challenges ever faced by human society. It should be required reading for political theorists and environmental philosophers. (shrink)
The Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange has developed a novel framework for assessing and communicating uncertainty in the findings published in their periodic assessment reports. But how should these uncertainty assessments inform decisions? We take a formal decision-making perspective to investigate how scientific input formulated in the IPCC’s novel framework might inform decisions in a principled way through a normative decision model.
There are a number of cases where, collectively, groups cause harm, and yet no single individual’s contribution to the collective makes any difference to the amount of harm that is caused. For instance, though human activity is collectively causing climatechange, my individual greenhouse gas emissions are neither necessary nor sufficient for any harm that results from climatechange. Some (e.g., Sinnott-Armstrong) take this to indicate that there is no individual moral obligation to reduce emissions. There (...) is a collective action problem here, to which I offer a solution. My solution rests on an argument for a (sometimes) bare moral difference between intending harm and foreseeing with near certainty that harm will result as an unintended side-effect of one’s action. I conclude that we have a moral obligation to reduce our individual emissions; and, more broadly, an obligation to not participate in many other harmful group activities (e.g., factory-farming). (shrink)
Part 1. Introduction -- Introduction: Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm in Light of a Thirty-Five Year Debate -- Thirty-Five Year ClimateChange Policy Debate -- Part 2. Priority Ethical Issues -- Ethical Problems with Cost Arguments -- Ethics and Scientific Uncertainty Arguments -- Atmospheric Targets -- Allocating National Emissions Targets -- ClimateChange Damages and Adaptation Costs -- Obligations of Sub-national Governments, Organizations, Businesses, and Individuals -- Independent Responsibility to Act -- Part 3. The Crucial Role (...) of Ethics in ClimateChange Policy Making -- Why Has Ethics Failed to Achieve Traction? -- Conclusion: Navigating the Perfect Moral Storm. (shrink)
Anthropogenic climatechange is a global process affecting the lives and well-being of millions of people now and countless number of people in the future. For humans, the consequences may include significant threats to food security globally and regionally, increased risks of from food-borne and water-borne as well as vector-borne diseases, increased displacement of people due migrations, increased risks of violent conflicts, slowed economic growth and poverty eradication, and the creation of new poverty traps. Principles of justice are (...) statements of what persons are owed either by others or by institutions and policies. Climatechange gives rise to many concern of justice. This article briefly summarizes some of the most important of these, including claims to have climatechange mitigated, claims regarding the sharing of the costs of climatechange mitigation, claims for investment into adaptation, and claims to be compensated. (shrink)
Given that mitigating climatechange is a large-scale global issue, what obligations do individuals have to lower their personal carbon emissions? I survey recent suggestions by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Dale Jamieson and offer models for thinking about their respective approaches. I then present a third model based on the notion of structural violence. While the three models are not mutually incompatible, each one suggests a different focus for mitigating climatechange. In the end, I agree with (...) Sinnott-Armstrong that people have limited moral obligations to directly lower personal emissions, but I offer different reasons for this conclusion, namely that the structural arrangements of our lives place a limit on how much individuals can restrict their own emissions. Thus, individuals should focus their efforts on changing the systems instead, which will lead to lower emissions on a larger scale. (shrink)
Globalization -- Globalization and the environment -- Climatechange and the crisis of philosophy -- Social conscience and global market -- Categories, environmental indicators, and the enlightenment market -- Environmentalism -- Pessimistic realism and optimistic total management -- Population statistics and modern governmentality -- Pragmatism -- Technological enframing -- Heidegger, the origin and the finitude of civilization -- Technology and the kultur of late modernity -- Embodied subjectivity and the critique of modernity.
Discounting future costs and benefits is often defended on the ground that our descendants will be richer. Simply to treat the future as better off, however, is to commit an ecological fallacy. Even if our descendants are better off when we average across climatechange scenarios, this cannot justify discounting costs and benefits in possible states of the world in which they are not. Giving due weight to catastrophe scenarios requires energetic action against climatechange.
In this paper I engage interdisciplinary conversation on inaction as the dominant response to climatechange, and develop an analysis of the specific phenomenon of complacency through a critical-feminist lens. I suggest that Chris Cuomo's discussion of the “insufficiency” problem and Susan Sherwin's call for a “public ethics” jointly point toward particularly promising harm-reduction strategies. I draw upon and extend their work by arguing that extant philosophical accounts of complacency are inadequate to the task of sorting out what (...) it means to be complacent on climatechange. I offer a sketch for an alternative account, which I take to be a start in the direction of mapping out a diverse array of “motivational vices” that need to be named, grappled with, and remedied. (shrink)
Understanding climatechange is becoming an urgent requirement for those in education. The normative values of education have long been closely aligned with the global, modernised world. The industrial model has underpinned the hidden and overt curriculum. Increasingly though, a new eco-centric orientation to economics, technology, and social organisation is beginning to shape up the post-carbon world. Unless education is up to date with the issues of climatechange, the estate of education will be unable to (...) meet its task of knowledge transfer. This paper covers the basic science and ethical policy debates, and begins to outline the questions that will necessarily entangle education as we orientate ourselves to the new world that is upon us. (shrink)
Climatechange is undeniably a global problem, but the situation is especially dire for countries whose territory is comprised entirely or primarily of low-lying land. While geoengineering might offer an opportunity to protect these states, international consensus on the particulars of any geoengineering proposal seems unlikely. To consider the moral complexities created by unilateral deploy- ment of geoengineering technologies, we turn to a moral convention with a rich history of assessing interference in the sovereign affairs of foreign states: (...) the just war tradition. We argue that the just war framework demonstrates that, for these nations, geoengineering offers a justified form of self-defense from an unwar- ranted, albeit unintentional, aggression. This startling result places our own car- bon-emitting activities in a stark new light: in perpetrating climatechange, we are, in fact, waging war on the most vulnerable. (shrink)
The human faculty of moral judgment is not well suited to address problems, like climatechange, that are global in scope and remote in time. Advocates of ‘moral bioenhancement’ have proposed that we should investigate the use of medical technologies to make human beings more trusting and altruistic, and hence more willing to cooperate in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climatechange. We survey recent accounts of the proximate and ultimate causes of human cooperation in (...) order to assess the prospects for bioenhancement. We identify a number of issues that are likely to be significant obstacles to effective bioenhancement, as well as areas for future research. (shrink)
Interdisciplinarity and ClimateChange is a major new book addressing one of the most challenging questions of our time. Its unique standpoint is based on the recognition that effective and coherent interdisciplinarity is necessary to deal with the issue of climatechange, and the multitude of linked phenomena which both constitute and connect to it. In the opening chapter, Roy Bhaskar makes use of the extensive resources of critical realism to articulate a comprehensive framework for multidisciplinarity, (...) interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity and cross-disciplinary understanding, one which duly takes account of ontological as well as epistemological considerations. Many of the subsequent chapters seek to show how this general approach can be used to make intellectual sense of the complex phenomena in and around the issue of climatechange, including our response to it. Among the issues discussed, in a number of graphic and compelling studies, by a range of distinguished contributors, both activists and scholars, are: The dangers of reducing all environmental, energy and climate gas issues to questions of carbon dioxide emissions The problems of integrating natural and social scientific work and the perils of monodisciplinary tunnel vision The consequences of the neglect of issues of consumption in climate policy The desirability of a care-based ethics and of the integration of cultural considerations into climate policy The problem of relating theoretical knowledge to practical action in contemporary democratic societies Interdisciplinarity and ClimateChange is essential reading for all serious students of the fight against climatechange, the interactions between governmental bodies, and critical realism. (shrink)
In this essay I present an overview of the problem of climatechange, with attention to issues of interest to feminists, such as the differential responsibilities of nations and the disproportionate “vulnerabilities” of females, people of color, and the economically disadvantaged in relation to climatechange. I agree with others that justice requires governments, corporations, and individuals to take full responsibility for histories of pollution, and for present and future greenhouse gas emissions. Nonetheless I worry that (...) an overemphasis on household and personal-sphere fossil fuel emissions distracts from attention to higher-level corporate and governmental responsibilities for addressing the problem of climatechange. I argue that more attention should be placed on the higher-level responsibilities of corporations and governments, and I discuss how individuals might more effectively take responsibility for addressing global climatechange, especially when corporations and governments refuse to do so. (shrink)
The evidence most of us have for our beliefs on global climatechange, the extent of human contribution to it, and appropriate anticipatory and mitigating actions turns crucially on epistemic trust. We extend trust or distrust to many varied others: scientists performing original research, intergovernmental agencies and those reviewing research, think tanks offering critique and advocating skepticism, journalists transmitting and interpreting claims, even social systems of modern science such as peer-reviewed publication and grant allocation. Our personal experiences and (...) assessments of evidential indicators themselves may be buttressed significantly by trust, not just in. (shrink)
This book examines the threat that climatechange poses to the projects of poverty eradication, sustainable development, and biodiversity preservation. It offers a careful discussion of the values that support these projects and a critical evaluation of the normative bases of climatechange policy. This book regards climatechange policy as a public problem that normative philosophy can shed light on. It assumes that the development of policy should be based on values regarding what (...) is important to respect, preserve, and protect. What sort of climatechange policy do we owe the poor of the world who are particularly vulnerable to climatechange? Why should our generation take on the burden of mitigating climatechange that is caused, in no small part, by emissions from people now dead? What value is lost when natural species go extinct, as they may well do en masse because of climatechange? This book presents a broad and inclusive discussion of climatechange policy, relevant to those with interests in public policy, development studies, environmental studies, political theory, and moral and political philosophy. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that individuals are, prior to the existence of just institutions requiring that they do so, bound as a matter of global distributive justice to restrict their use, or share the benefits fairly of any use beyond their entitlements, of the Earth’s capacity to absorb greenhouse gases (EAC) to within a specified justifiable range. As part of the search for an adequate account of climate morality, I approach the task by revisiting, and drawing inspiration from, (...) two prominent models from classical political philosophy for thinking about norms (rights, permissions, limits, etc.) regarding “pre-institutional” appropriation of unowned resources; Locke and Kant, respectively. The basic resources they develop—connected to fundamental norms of equality and rights to self-preservation and freedom—in order to generate their particular schema for distributive shares prior to the existence of just institutions can be usefully and plausibly connected up with the scarce, valuable, rival, non-excludable, global, and unowned resource that is EAC in order to undergird a picture of individual climate duties in the contemporary world. It is a picture that comes with some fairly radical implications, especially for the well-off. (shrink)
Two kinds of philosophical questions are raised by the current public debate about climatechange; epistemic questions (Whom should I believe? Is climate science a genuine science?), and ethical questions (Who should bear the burden? Must I sacrifice if others do not?). Although the former have been central to this debate, professional philosophers have dealt almost exclusively with the latter. This book is the first to address both the epistemic and ethical questions raised by the climate (...)change debate and examine the relationship between them. (shrink)
Climatechange harms health and damages and diminishes environmental resources. Gradually it will cause health systems to reduce services, standards of care, and opportunities to express patient autonomy. Prominent public health organizations are responding with preparedness, mitigation, and educational programs. The design and effectiveness of these programs, and of similar programs in other sectors, would be enhanced by greater understanding of the values and tradeoffs associated with activities and public policies that drive climatechange. Bioethics could (...) generate such understanding by exposing the harms and benefits in different cultural, socioeconomic, and geographic contexts, and through interdisciplinary risk assessments. Climatechange is a bioethics problem because it harms everyone and involves health, values, and responsibilities. This article initiates dialog about the responsibility of bioethics to promote transparency and understanding of the social values and conflicts associated with climatechange, and the actions and public policies that allow climatechange to worsen. (shrink)
What does it matter if the climate changes? This kind of question does not admit of a scientific answer. Natural science can tell us what some of its biophysical effects are likely to be; social scientists can estimate what consequences such effects could have for human lives and livelihoods. But how should we respond? The question is, at root, about how we think we should live—and different people have myriad different ideas about this. The distinctive task of ethics is (...) to bring some clarity and order to these ideas. (shrink)
This paper examines explore the issues of intergenerational equity raised by climatechange. A number of different reasons have been suggested as to why current generations may legitimately favor devoting resources to contemporaries rather than to future generations. These - either individually or jointly - challenge the case for combating climatechange. In this paper, I distinguish between three different kinds of reason for favoring contemporaries. I argue that none of these arguments is persuasive. My answer (...) in each case appeals to the concept of human rights. It maintains that a human rights-centered perspective to climatechange enables us to address each of these reasons. (shrink)
Social scientists have offered a number of explanations for why Americans commonly deny that human-caused climatechange is real. In this paper, I argue that these explanations neglect an important group of climatechange deniers: those who say they are on the side of science while also rejecting what they know most climate scientists accept. I then develop a “nature of science” hypothesis that does account for this group of deniers. According to this hypothesis, people (...) have serious misconceptions about what scientific inquiry ought to look like. Their misconceptions interact with partisan biases to produce denial of human-caused climatechange. After I develop this hypothesis, I propose ways of confirming that it is true. Then I consider its implications for efforts to combat climatechange denial and for other cases of public rejection of science. (shrink)
When the policies and activities of one country or generation harm both other nations and later generations, they constitute serious injustices. Recognizing the broad threat posed by anthropogenic climatechange, advocates for an international climate policy development process have expressly aimed to mitigate this pressing contemporary environmental threat in a manner that promotes justice. Yet, while making justice a primary objective of global climate policy has been the movement's noblest aspiration, it remains an onerous challenge for (...) policymakers. -/- Atmospheric Justice is the first single-authored work of political theory that addresses this pressing challenge via the conceptual frameworks of justice, equality, and responsibility. Throughout this incisive study, Steve Vanderheiden points toward ways to achieve environmental justice by exploring how climatechange raises issues of both international and intergenerational justice. In addition, he considers how the design of a global climate regime might take these aims into account. Engaging with the principles of renowned political philosopher John Rawls, he expands on them by factoring in the needs of future generations. Vanderheiden also demonstrates how political theory can contribute to reaching a better understanding of the proper human response to climatechange. By showing how climate policy offers insights into resolving contemporary controversies within political theory, he illustrates the ways in which applying normative theory to policy allows us to better understand both. -/- Thoroughly researched and persuasively argued, Atmospheric Justice makes an important step toward providing us with a set of carefully elaborated first principles for achieving environmental justice. (shrink)
What kinds of issues does the global crisis of climatechange present to aesthetics, and how will they challenge the field to respond? This paper argues that a new research agenda is needed for aesthetics with respect to global climatechange and outlines a set of foundational issues which are especially pressing: attention to environments that have been neglected by philosophers, for example, the cryosphere and aerosphere; negative aesthetics of environment, in order to grasp aesthetic experiences, (...) meanings, and dis/values in light of the catastrophic effects of GCC; bringing intergenerational thinking into aesthetics through concepts of temporality and 'future aesthetics' understanding the relationship between aesthetic and ethical values as they arise in regard to GCC. (shrink)
This article critically examines a recent philosophical debate on the role of values in climatechange forecasts, such as those found in assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on ClimateChange. On one side, several philosophers insist that the argument from inductive risk, as developed by Rudner and Douglas among others, applies to this case. AIR aims to show that ethical value judgments should influence decisions about what is sufficient evidence for accepting scientific hypotheses that have (...) implications for policy issues. Advocates of extending AIR to climate science claim that values are deeply... (shrink)
Obstacles to achieving a global climate treaty include disagreements about questions of justice raised by the UNFCCC's principle that countries should respond to climatechange by taking cooperative action "in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities and their social and economic conditions". Aiming to circumvent such disagreements, ClimateChange Justice authors Eric Posner and David Weisbach argue against shaping treaty proposals according to requirements of either distributive or corrective justice. The USA's (...)climate envoy, Todd Stern, takes a similar position. In this article I explain the practical and theoretical drawbacks of Posner & Weisbach's welfarist perspective and propose an alternative. I show that their arguments fail to rule out John Rawls' non-utilitarian, political conception of international justice and human rights, the Law of Peoples. On this basis I develop a conception of climate justice that highlights implications of some of Rawls' principles and adds a principle for determining fair shares of climate -treaty-related benefits and burdens. I propose this conception as a moral framework for negotiating a treaty that would promote human welfare consistently with requirements of justice, and I argue that a treaty proposal satisfying these requirements could best satisfy Posner & Weisbach's own feasibility criteria. (shrink)
The climate crisis is an enormous challenge for contemporary societies. Yet, public discussions on it often lead to anger, mocking, denial and other defensive behaviours, one prominent example of which is the reception met by the climate advocate Greta Thunberg. The paper approaches this curious phenomenon via shame. It argues that the very idea of anthropogenic climatechange invites feelings of human failure and thereby may also entice shame. The notion of “climate shame” is introduced (...) and distinguished from “climate guilt”. Whereas climate guilt prioritises the flourishing of the environment and is focused on actions and morality, climate shame is concerned with human identity and selfhood. The paper then explores whether shame is a morally destructive or constructive emotion. Making use of both psychological and philosophical literature on shame, it argues that although shame faces many challenges that question its usefulness in moral pedagogy, these challenges can be met with “moral maturity”—moreover, following a utilitarian approach, the overall benefits of climate shame can justify its costs to individuals. My argument is that climate shame holds the potential of being a highly effective moral psychological method of persuasion, capable of inviting wholesale critical reflection on current, environmentally damaging practices and cultivation of more virtuous ways of co-existing with the rest of the natural world and other species. (shrink)
Is drastic action against global warming essential to avoid impoverishing our descendants? Or does it mean robbing the poor to give to the rich? We do not yet know. Yet most of us can agree on the importance of minimising expected deprivation. Because of the vast number of future generations, if there is any significant risk of catastrophe, this implies drastic and expensive carbon abatement unless we discount the future. I argue that we should not discount. Instead, the rich countries (...) should stump up the funds to support abatement both for themselves and the poor states of the world. Yet to ask the present generation to assume all the costs of drastic mitigation.is unfair.Worse still, it is politically unrealistic.We can square the circle by shifting part of the burden to our descendants. Even if we divert investment from other parts of the economy or increase public debt, future people should be richer, so long as we avert catastrophe. If so, it is fair for them to assume much of the cost of abatement.What we must not do is to expose them to the threat of disaster by not doing enough. (shrink)
Liberalism faces a tension between its commitment to minimal interference with individual liberty and the urgent need for strong collective action on global climatechange. This paper attempts to resolve that tension. It does so on the one hand by defending an expanded model of collective moral responsibility, according to which a set of individuals can be responsible, qua ?putative group?, for harm resulting from the predictable aggregation of their individual acts. On the other, it defends a collectivized (...) version of the harm principle. The claim is that the collectivized principle pushes the burden of argument, against coercively enforced measures to curtail climatechange and compensate its victims, onto the global elite collectively responsible for environmental harms. Some such potential arguments are briefly considered and rejected. (shrink)
Scholars, journalists, and activists working on climatechange often distinguish between “individual” and “structural” approaches to decarbonization. The former concern choices individuals can make to reduce their “personal carbon footprint” (e.g., eating less meat). The latter concern changes to institutions, laws, and other social structures. These two approaches are often framed as oppositional, representing a mutually exclusive forced choice between alternative routes to decarbonization. After presenting representative samples of this oppositional framing of individual and structural approaches in environmental (...) communication, we identify four problems with oppositional thinking and propose five ways to conceive of individual and structural reform as symbiotic and interdependent. (shrink)
Do we owe it to future generations, as a requirement of justice, to take action to mitigate anthropogenic climatechange? This paper examines the implications of Derek Parfit’s notorious non-identity problem for that question. An argument from Jörg Tremmel that the non-identity effect of climate policy is “insignificant” is examined and found wanting, and a contrastive, difference-making approach for comparing different choices’ non-identity effects is developed. Using the approach, it is argued that the non-identity effect of a (...) given policy response to climatechange depends on the contrasting policy. Compared to a baseline scenario without further mitigation, the non-identity effect of choosing to limit climatechange to 1.5°C would be highly significant. (shrink)