Climate change is a moral problem. Each of us causes the emission of greenhouse gas, which spreads around the Earth. Some of it stays in the atmosphere for centuries. It causes harm to people who live far away and to members of future generations. Moreover, the harm we cause, taken together, is very great. As a result of climate change, people are losing their homes to storms and floods, they are losing their livelihoods as their farmland dries up, and they are losing even their lives as tropical diseases climb higher in the mountains of Africa. We should not cause harms like these to other people in order to make life better for ourselves.
It is chiefly for moral reasons that we inhabitants of rich countries should reduce our emissions. Doing so will benefit us—particularly the young among us—to an extent, but most of the benefit will come to the world’s poor and to future generations. Our main reason for working to limit climate change is our moral duty towards those people.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recognizes that climate change is a moral problem or, to use its cautious language, it raises ethical issues. The authors of theIPCC’s recent Fifth Assessment Reporttherefore included two moral philosophers. I am one of them. I recently returned from the Approval Session of IPCC’s Working Group 3 in Berlin. This was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my academic life.
A WORKSHOP TO BE HELD ON 23-24 June 2014 AT DURHAM UNIVERSITY, UK
According to decision making bodies such as the UK Government’s DEFRA and the UN Environment Programme, one of the reasons ecosystems have value is because they can provide human beings withcultural ecosystem services. The thought is that woods, say, or wetlands have value, not simply because they supply us with fuel, food and other material benefits, but because they can inspire us, for instance, or fortify our resolve, or hone our aesthetic faculties, or provide us with religious symbols, or shape our sense of who we are. Continue reading →
Degrowth Summer School (Barcelona, Spain, July 4-21, 2014)
Adapting to the times of crisis: an advanced course on socially sustainable degrowth
Amidst calls for restoring growth as a path out of the crisis, the intellectual and political degrowth movement exposes the impossibility to greening economic growth, or making it equitable. In theoretical terms degrowth implies a radical critique to the western notion of growth- and technology-led development as a single overarching path of organizing social and economic life. It implies revisiting the role of monetary and market-based transactions in society and searching for a way to bring back its human, emotional, non-utilitarian or gift-based traits. Continue reading →
The National Academy of Sciences and its British counterpart, the Royal Society, have published Climate Change: Evidence and Causes, a very easy to understand primer on the science of greenhouse-driven global warming. Although there is not a lot new in this report as a matter of science, it makes the strong scientific consensus on human-induced climate change that has existed for some time clearer and more accessible for non-scientists particularly on the major issues that need to be understood by policy-makers and interested citizens. The report is written in simple language and filled with pictures and graphs which illustrate why almost all mainstream scientists actually engaged in climate change science are virtually certain that human activity is causing very dangerous climate change. Continue reading →