Philosophy and climate change (The Philosophers' Corner-Sydney-Australia)
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    Philosophy and climate change (The Philosophers' Corner-Sydney-Australia) Philosophy and climate change (The Philosophers' Corner-Sydney-Australia) Document Transcript

    • Hi,  I’m  Caitlin  Calder-­‐Potts,  Project  Coordinator  for  Green  Cross  Australia.  Green  Cross  Australia  is  a  member  of  the  international  Green  Cross  network  funded  by  Mikhail  Gorbachev  in  the  early  90s  to  address  the  humanitarian  consequences  of  climate  change.    At  Green  Cross  Australia,  our  focus  is  on  helping  people  adapt  to  the  effects  of  our  changing  climate.  This  includes  empowering  communities  to  respond  to  severe  weather  events,  understanding  what  the  future  impacts  of  climate  change  will  be  and  environmental  education.  This  evenings  talk  will  be  on  the  philosophy  of  climate  change-­‐  and  more  specifically,  what  philosophy  can  contribute  to  the  current  debate.      I  think  the  major  contribution  of  philosophy  to  this  debate  can  be  around  clarifying  the  ethical  issues  we  face.  The  debate  around  climate  change  has  become  almost  depressingly  childish  with  mud  slinging  from  all  sides.  Like  asylum  seekers,  the  issue  of  climate  change  and  action  to  mitigate  climate  change  has  become  politically  charged.  I  believe  this  has  detracted  public  attention  from  the  very  real  and  challenging  issues  we  must  address  and  consider.      Obviously  there  are  no  simple  answers;  climate  change  is  a  complicated,  real  and  urgent  issue.  However,  we  cannot  hope  to  progress  from  the  current  national  and  international  stalemate  without  reasoned  and  considered  attention.      I  will  consider  a  broad  but  not  exhaustive  list  of  ethical  issues.  These  include,  the  question  of  how  we  should,  as  an  international  community,  address  the  impacts  of  climate  change-­‐  both  now  and  in  the  future.  The  extent  of  our  obligations  to  take  action  to  reduce  our  emissions  in  order  to  limit  global  warming  to  the  “allowable”  2  degree  rise.  How  best  to  understand  the  collective  action  necessary  to  address  climate  change.  And  finally,  the  argument  from  skepticism  and  some  thoughts  on  why  after  nearly  3  decades  of  warnings  from  science  we  still  face  significant  skepticism  as  to  the  causes  of  climate  change.      WHO  SHOULD  BEAR  RESPONSIBILITY  If  we  accept  that  global  warming  is  causing  climate  change  and  it  is  human  activities  that  are  causing  it,  we  must  find  ways  of  dealing  with  its  implications.  The  traditional  allocation  of  responsibility  in  similar  situations  is  to  allocate  responsibility  according  to  the  party  that  has  caused  the  damage.  For  example,  if  I  were  to  break  a  window  whether  by  accident  of  on  purpose,  failing  any  other  mitigating  circumstances,  it  would  be  reasonable  to  expect  that  I  should  be  responsible  for  replacing  it.    Overwhelmingly,  we  must  acknowledge  that  climate  change  has  been  caused  by  industrialized  countries.      Since  industrialization  the  levels  of  carbon  in  the  atmosphere  have  increased.  CSIRO  reports  that,  “CO2  concentration  has  ranged  between  172  and  300  ppm  for  the  past  800  000  years.  In  2008,  CO2  concentration  has  risen  to  a  much  higher  383  ppm.  Global  CO2  concentration  has  risen  37  per  cent  since  the  Industrial  Revolution”.    This  37  degree  rise  has  caused  the  atmosphere  to  heat  contributing  to  global  sea  level  rise,  a  rise  in  temperature,  an  upset  in  climate  patterns  including  increase  in  severe  weather  events  like  cyclones,  floods  and  droughts.      It  would  seem  reasonable  that  because  industrialized  countries  have  contributed  most  significantly  to  climate  change,  they  should  be  responsible  for  its  effects.  However,  the  effects  of  climate  change  do  not  adhere  to  this  logic  and  are  being  felt  around  the  world.  In  a  
    • cruel  twist,  the  actions  of  the  global  North  are  being  felt  most  deeply  in  the  South.  Low  lying  coastal  areas  are  experiencing  severe  flooding  due  to  increased  ocean  water  levels  and  sub  Sahara  Africa  is,  and  will  continue  to,  suffer  from  prolonged  droughts.  Of  course  effects  are  also  being  felt  in  the  developed  world  as  well.  The  ethical  challenge  inherent  in  this  is  how  to  allocate  responsibility  when  effects  are  being  felt  collectively.      One  way  to  address  this  is  for  countries  with  the  highest  emissions  record  to  be  obligated  to  cover  the  economic  cost  of  climate  change.  For  example,  governments  in  Australia  and  New  Zealand  have  discussed  the  feasibility  of  accepting  populations  from  Tuvalu  into  their  own  countries  in  the  coming  decades  when  sea  level  rise  will  make  Tuvalu  uninhabitable.      Unlike  the  broken  window  example  I  cited  before,  understanding  the  effects  of  climate  change  is  not  as  simple  as  identifying  who  threw  the  ball  that  broke  the  window.  Emissions  are  not  released  with  ‘names’  on  them.  However,  we  are  able  to  determine  where  the  emissions  have  come  from.      Countries  that  have  contributed  the  most,  should  be  obligated  to  take  greater  responsibility  in  responding  to  climate  change.      I  think  that  this  is  a  relatively  simple  ethical  argument-­‐  of  course,  some  developed  countries  may  argue  that  they  were  unaware  of  the  extent  of  the  effects  of  releasing  emissions.  They  might  also  argue  that  the  economic  benefits  of  their  own  development  have  flowed  on  to  other  countries  contributing  to  the  overall  good.      I  find  these  arguments  overwhelmingly  unpersuasive.    The  risks  of  climate  change  have  been  asserted  by  scientists  for  decades-­‐  and  largely  ignored.  I’m  sure  most  of  you  here  tonight  are  familiar  with  the  precautionary  principle.  This  principle  argues  that  if  an  action  or  policy  has  a  suspected  risk  of  causing  harm  to  the  public  or  to  the  environment,  in  the  absence  of  scientific  consensus  that  the  action  or  policy  is  harmful,  the  burden  of  proof  that  it  is  not  harmful  falls  on  those  taking  the  action.    The  precautionary  principle  has  been  overwhelmingly  ignored  in  favour  for  unlimited  emissions  by  the  richest  countries  in  the  world.      I  think  this  is  the  first  of  many  examples  where  philosophy  can  play  a  role  in  clarifying  the  debate  around  climate  change.  There  is  a  strong  argument  that  can  be  made  by  ethics  that  the  developed  world  is  both  subject  to  the  ‘you  break  it  you  buy  it  rule’  and  also  guilty  of  deliberately  sacrificing  the  well  being  of  developing  nations  and  future  generations  in  the  name  of  progress.      However,  there  is  little  national  or  international  discourse  around  this  argument.  Economic  sacrifices  and  the  impacts  of  reducing  emissions  are  discussed  with  little  energy  devoted  to  understanding  and  responding  to  our  moral  obligations.      I  realize  that  this  argument  may  sound  naïve.  But  it  is  important.  Aboloishing  slavery  had  significant  economic  consequences.  As  too,  did  raising  minimum  working  standards  for  the  developing  world.  But  as  a  global  community,  we  considered  the  moral  arguments  and  decided  that  economic  sacrifices  or  adjustments  were  necessary.  The  same  should  apply  to  climate  change.      
    • Of  course  dealing  with  the  effects  of  climate  change  is  only  one  side  of  the  coin,  we  must  also  take  action  to  reduce  future  implications  by  limiting  our  emissions  today.  The  question  of  how  best  to  do  this  is  also  an  ethical  one.  Peter  Singer  compares  the  allowable  world  emissions  that  would  limit  global  warming  to  a  2  degree  rise  to  a  pie  that  must  be  divided  equally  globally.  In  this  example,  Singer  advocates  an  approach  that  would  see  ‘the  pie’  equally  divided  amongst  the  nations  of  the  world  based  on  a  per  capita  division.  This  would  allow  countries  with  smaller  populations  to  sell  their  emissions  to  countries  with  higher  populations  and  ensure  that  no  one  is  allowed  to  emit  more  than  their  share.      This  approach  relies  on  the  interests  of  nation  states  being  set  aside  for  the  interests  of  the  international  community  as  a  whole.  Certainly,  as  we  have  seen  over  the  past  decades,  a  hard  pill  to  swallow.    So  what  can  philosophy  or  ethics  contribute  to  this  discussion?    COSMOPOLITANISM  I  think  what  is  at  the  core  of  this  response  is  whether  we  should  adopt  a  cosmopolitan  approach  to  dealing  with  the  challenges  of  climate  change  or  should  maintain  a  nationalistic  approach-­‐  or,  as  I  believe,  some  combination  of  the  two.      Cosmopolitanism  asserts  that  all  humanity  belongs  to  a  single  community  based  on  shared  morality.  While  there  are  traces  of  this  approach  in  the  ancient  Greek  philosophers,  it  emerged  with  force  post  enlightenment.  I  will  quote  Kleingeld  and  Brown  in  the  Stanford  Encyclopedia  of  Philosophy  at  length:  “The  historical  context  of  the  philosophical  resurgence  of  cosmopolitanism  during  the  Enlightenment  is  made  up  of  many  factors:  The  increasing  rise  of  capitalism  and  world-­‐wide  trade  and  its  theoretical  reflections;  the  reality  of  ever  expanding  empires  whose  reach  extended  across  the  globe;  the  voyages  around  the  world  and  the  anthropological  so-­‐called  ‘discoveries’  facilitated  through  these;  the  renewed  interest  in  Hellenistic  philosophy;  and  the  emergence  of  a  notion  of  human  rights  and  a  philosophical  focus  on  human  reason.  Many  intellectuals  of  the  time  regarded  their  membership  in  the  transnational  ‘republic  of  letters’  as  more  significant  than  their  membership  in  the  particular  political  states  they  found  themselves  in,  all  the  more  so  because  their  relationship  with  their  government  was  often  strained  because  of  censorship  issues.  This  prepared  them  to  think  in  terms  other  than  those  of  states  and  peoples  and  adopt  a  cosmopolitan  perspective.  Under  the  influence  of  the  American  Revolution,  and  especially  during  the  first  years  of  the  French  Revolution,  cosmopolitanism  received  its  strongest  impulse.  The  1789  declaration  of  ‘human’  rights  had  grown  out  of  cosmopolitan  modes  of  thinking  and  reinforced  them  in  turn.”    This  approach  has  been  enshrined  in  numerous  United  Nations  charters  including:     • The  Universal  Declaration  of  Human  Rights  (UDHR),  1948,  along  with  related   covenants;     • The  United  Nations  Framework  Convention  on  Climate  Change,  1992;     • The  United  Nations  Convention  on  Biological  Diversity,  1992;     • The  Rio  Declaration  on  the  Environment  and  Development,  1992;     • The  UNESCO  Declaration  on  the  Responsibili-­‐  ties  of  the  Present  Generations   Towards  Future  Generations,  1997;     • The  Kyoto  Protocol,  1997;     • The  Earth  Charter,  2000,  as  recognized  by  the    UNESCO  General  Conference;     • The  Johannesburg  Declaration  on  Sustainable    Development,  2002;     • The  Universal  Declaration  on  Bioethics  and    Human  Rights  (UDBHR),  2005.      
    •  Cosmopolitanism  has  been  seen  as  necessary  when  addressing  issues  such  a  trade,  human  rights,  slavery,  the  rights  of  women  and  minorities  and  environmental  issues.  Cosmopolitanism  asks  us  to  put  aside  differences  in  culture,  religion,  race  and  proximity,  in  order  to  promote  the  global  good.  I’m  sure  most  of  you  are  familiar  with  Peter  Singer’s  ‘the  life  you  can  save’  argument.  This  argument  asserts  that  failing  to  act  when  you  are  able  to  do  so  with  relatively  minimal  consequences  to  prevent  the  suffering  of  others  is  wrong  whether  or  not  the  suffering  occurs  next  to  you  or  thousands  of  kilometers  away.  I  believe  that  this  argument,  while  in  theory  morally  justifiable,  fails  to  take  into  account  factors  that  motivate  us  to  act  morally.      Indeed  if  a  child  was  drowning  beside  me  and  I  could  save  their  life  with  minimal  harm  to  myself,  it  would  be  morally  wrong  for  me  not  to  do  so.  Singer  argues  that  the  same  logic  is  at  play  when  considering  the  suffering  of  many  far  away  from  me.  That  is,  where  I  can  stop  or  minimize  the  suffering  of  those  who  are  far  away  from  me  with  minimal  consequences  to  myself,  I  should.      The  problem  with  this  line  of  argument  is  that  we  are  motivated  to  act  not  solely  by  abstract  moral  arguments,  but  by  what  we  see  in  front  of  us.  In  addition,  we  are  not  simply  international  brothers  and  sisters;  we  are  living  within  cultures,  societies  and  families  with  connections  and  relationships  that  motivate  us  to  act.  Whether  or  not  it  is  morally  justifiable,  we  are  more  motivated  to  act  to  help  those  close  to  us  who  we  are  connected  to  rather  than  those  who  are  far  away.      Governments  adopt  this  approach  and  indeed  we  expect  them  to.  We  expect  the  Australian  government  to  put  the  interests  of  Australians  above  the  interests  of  Indonesians  or  Banglasdeshis  or  Americans.  This  expectation  is  at  the  very  centre  of  democracy-­‐  we  elect  people  to  represent  our  interests.      However,  national  interests  will  certainly  be  trumped  by  the  effects  of  climate  change.  As  often  stated,  Australia’s  economy  will  be  worth  very  little  if  we  are  living  in  a  country  devastated  by  severe  weather  events,  with  sea  level  rise  threatening  our  homes  and  droughts  destroying  our  ability  to  feed  ourselves.      Therefore,  our  approach  must  be  both  cosmopolitan  and  nationalistic.  While  we  are  a  land  ‘girt  by  sea’  we  do  not  exist  in  a  bubble.  It  is  in  Australia’s,  and  indeed  every  nations,  interest  to  act  globally  on  climate  change  for  national  interests-­‐  as  well  as  out  of  a  moral  responsibility.      Philosophy  can  make  this  point  and  indeed  should.  Action  on  climate  change  is  not  about  sacrificing  national  interests  now,  but  promoting  them  for  the  future.  I      I  think  it  useful  from  here  to  examine  another  common  explanation  of  why  the  global  community  has  failed  to  act  on  climate  change.  The  philosophical  chestnut  of  the  Prisoners  Dilemma  or  Game  Theory.      This  argument  is  often  employed  when  dealing  with  situations  that  require  the  behavior  change  of  many  individuals  that  will  have  mass  implications.  At  its  core,  game  theory  illuminates  the  challenges  inherent  in  motivating  the  actions  of  many  individuals  in  order  to  promote  the  greatest  good.    
    • For  example,  we  all  want  clean  air  and  to  achieve  that  we  need  less  cars  on  the  road.  Equally,  we  all  want  to  travel  comfortably  which  for  many  involves  driving  a  car  to  work.  Game  Theory  illuminates  the  conflict  of  our  2  competing  interests  (to  have  clean  air  and  also  to  drive  in  our  own  cars  to  work).      In  order  to  motivate  us  to  take  individual  actions  that  would  have  benefits  for  the  collective,  our  motivations  and  interests  must  be  influenced.  For  example,  public  transport  can  be  made  more  appealing  with  more  bus  lanes,  cheaper  fares  or  more  comfortable  and  reliable  buses.  Or  driving  our  car  can  be  made  more  difficult  with  limited  parking  or  more  expensive  tolls  or  fuel.      To  put  this  into  the  context  of  climate  change-­‐  we  all  want  a  stable  climate  with  no  global  warming  and  the  associated  effects.  We  also  all  want  to  be  able  to  consume  energy  and  live  at  the  standard  to  which  we  have  become  accustomed.  At  the  same  time,  we  all  accept  that  we  need  the  earth  and  a  hospitable  climate  in  order  to  live.  Alone,  our  individual  actions  may  not  have  significant  consequences,  but  when  all  7  billion  of  us  act  in  our  own  interests  we  see  significant  impact.      By  using  Game  Theory,  the  challenge  is  to  alter  conditions  so  that  our  behavior  contributes  to  both  the  common  good  as  well  as  our  own.  In  Australia,  we  have  seen  a  tax-­‐  or  price,  employed  to  motivate  us  to  use  less  energy  by  increasing  its  cost.  We  have  also  used  education  to  make  saving  energy  an  individual  preference  and  value  that  we  are  inclined  to  take  for  the  sake  of  our  own  ethical  beliefs.      However,  as  critics  of  the  carbon  tax  often  point  out,  it  is  not  just  Australia  that  faces  a  prisoners  dilemma  but  the  international  community  as  a  whole.  It  is  in  every  nations  long  term  interest  to  reduce  emissions,  but  without  the  actions  of  the  rest  of  the  international  community  their  individual  interests  may  suffer.      There  are  also  competing  priorities  and  values  at  play.  Developing  countries  do  not  only  value  the  environment  or  preventing  or  minimizing  climate  change.  They  also  value  industrialization  that  will  lift  their  people  out  of  poverty.  They  value  the  instrumental  economic  worth  of  their  land  and  resources.      The  challenge  at  a  global  level,  is  to  direct  motivations  in  order  to  promote  reduced  emissions.  This  in  essence,  is  what  the  numerous  treaties  and  conventions  since  Rio  in  1990s  have  been  trying  to  achieve.  A  framework  where  all  nations  can  be  motivated  to  act  for  the  good  of  the  global  community,  while  not  sacrificing  their  own  national  interests.      However,  unfortunately,  while  there  is  some  hope  that  the  international  community  will  rally  around  this  cause  and  implement  an  effective  framework.  I  think  it  is  worth  examining  why  so  far  we  have  failed.      This  brings  me  back  to  my  comments  previously  on  cosmopolitanism  and  I  would  like  to  play  a  brief  video  from  Tim  Soutphommasane.  From  4.55-­‐    6.00  http://www.themonthly.com.au/ethics-­‐climate-­‐change-­‐peter-­‐singer-­‐tim-­‐soutphommasane-­‐p2-­‐2586      Tim  goes  on  to  emphasise  the  great  potential  of  sustainable,  green  industries  and  also  the  benefits  of  being  an  early  market  leader  in  sustainable  technologies.  What  is  so  effective  about  Tim’s  argument  is  that  he  is  able  to  apply  a  philosophical  concept  practically  and  to  
    • use  the  knowledge  we  have  gained  from  philosophy  to  the  practical  concerns  of  global  warming  and  climate  change.      It  is  this  practical  approach  that  helped  women  get  the  vote-­‐  not  just  because  equality  was  a  moral  issues,  but  also  because  of  the  economic  benefit  of  women  in  the  workforce  and  their  role  during  WW1.      It  is  arguments  like  Tim’s  that  highlight  to  me  the  every  day  practicality  and  applicability  of  a  discipline  such  as  philosophy  as  reframing  an  argument  and  illuminating  corners  of  reason  that  were  previously  unexamined.      I  would  now  like  to  discuss  another  important  ethical  aspect  of  the  climate  change  debate.  Skepticism  as  to  whether  or  not  climate  change  is  caused  by  human  action.  Research  conducted  by  CSIRO  in  2011  on  attitudes  to  climate  change  within  Australia  revealed  some  interesting  findings.  This  included  that  roughly  half  of  Australians  accept  that  the  climate  is  changing  but  attribute  this  change  to  natural  variations-­‐  as  opposed  to  human  action.      I  think  one  of  the  things  that  this  research  reveals  is  that  climate  science  is  inherently  complicated  and  we  cannot  expect  those  without  training  in  the  field  to  understand  the  intricacies  of  climate  projection  models  and  the  relationship  between  these  and  natural  variations.  However,  what  we  can  expect  people  to  understand  is  the  reality  of  climate  change.  We  can  all  relate  to  higher  water  levels  and  the  impacts  to  our  coasts,  severe  weather  events,  droughts,  floods,  cyclones.      And  this  is  an  argument  that  has  largely  connected.  There  is  broad  consensus  within  the  Australian  public  that  the  climate  is  changing  –  the  divergence  appears  when  respondents  are  asked  whether  or  not  that  change  is  caused  by  human  activity  or  natural  variations.  However,  if  half  the  population  does  not  accept  that  humans  are  causing  climate  change,  there  is  little  chance  of  effective  action  being  taken  to  address  it.      Two  of  the  major  complications  in  understanding  climate  science  are  the  30  year  lag  within  the  system  and  the  fact  that  climate  change  plays  out  against  a  backdrop  of  natural  climatic  variations.  These  2  points  –  neither  easy  to  explain-­‐  have  formed  the  basis  for  the  argument  from  climate  change  skeptics.      I  think  what  is  at  the  core  of  both  these  arguments,  is  that  science,  and  in  particular  climate  science,  is  inherently  complex  and  complicated.  Indeed  such  is  the  growth  of  fields  of  scientific  study  that  even  scientists  in  neighboring  fields  may  struggle  to  understand  each  other.  George  Monbiot  quoted  Arthur  C  Clarke  in  a  2010  piece  for  the  Guardian  with  the  claim  that  “any  sufficiently  advanced  technology  is  indistinguishable  from  magic”.  Monbiot  continues  “the  detail  of  modern  science  is  incomprehensible  to  almost  everyone,  which  means  that  we  have  to  take  what  scientists  say  on  trust.  Yet  science  tells  us  to  trust  nothing,  to  believe  only  what  can  be  demonstrated.  This  contradiction  is  fatal  to  public  confidence.”    But  medical  science  is  also  a  mystery  to  most  people.  The  notion  of  poisoning  ones  body  in  order  to  treat  an  illness  such  as  cancer  seems  completely  irrational  yet  most  cancer  patients  are  relatively  comfortable  in  accepting  doctors  advice.      In  preparing  for  this  evening  I  have  tried  to  understand  what  the  differences  are  between  trusting  medical  science  and  trusting  climate  science  and  can  only  come  up  with  time.  Has  
    • the  ubiquity  of  medical  science  and  its  history  within  human  society  assured  it  the  status  of  trust  worthy?    I  think  one  part  of  the  problem  is  that  some  scientists  have  tarnished  the  reputation  of  many  by  making  claims  that  were  later  shown  to  be  false.  These  include  the  infamous  tales  of  Tabaco  company  employed  scientists  in  the  late  60s  asserting  there  was  no  link  between  smoking  and  cancer  the  Climategate  “controversy”  of  2009-­‐  fuelled  by  right  wing  media  and  politics.      Robert  Mann’s  recent  essay  in  The  Monthly,  enriched  by  the  earlier  work  of  Naomi  Oreskes  and  Erik  Conway’s  Merchants  of  Doubt  chronicles  the  rise  of  skepticism  with  regard  to  human  induced  climate  change.  Mann  references  the  famous  leaked  memo  from  tobacco  company  Brown  &  Williamson  stating  that  Doubt  is  our  product,  since  it  is  the  best  means  of  competing  with  the  body  of  fact  [linking  smoking  with  disease]  that  exists  in  the  mind  of  the  general  public.      Mann  asserts  that  there  has  been  a  similarly  economically  motivated  effort  from  the  fossil  fuel  industry  to  convince  the  public  that  doubt  existed  amongst  climate  scientists  regarding  the  causes  of  climate  change.  In  his  excellent  essay,  he  goes  so  far  as  to  chronicle  the  testimonial  of  some  prominent  anthropogenic  climate  change  deniers  and  their  personal  interests  in  giving  such  testimonial.      I  think  we  must  also  consider  why  climate  scepticism  has  become  the  domain  of  right  wing  politics.  CSIRO  research  found  that  those  who  voted  for  Labor  or  the  Green  were  more  likely  to  agree  with  the  statement  that  climate  change  was  caused  by  human  action  than  those  who  voted  Liberal  or  National.      One  explanation  of  this  is  of  course  that  the  right  wing  of  politics  traditionally  values  economic  growth  above  most  else.  Another  value  held  dear,  is  individual  freedom  and  minimal  government  intervention.  Both  values  that  have  been  framed  as  at  odds  with  climate  change  action.        However,  I  do  not  agree  that  economic  growth,  individual  freedom  and  minimal  government  intervention  is  at  odds  with  mitigating  climate  change.  Indeed  there  is  great  potential  for  economic  growth  from  actions  to  address  climate  change.  The  World  Bank  reports  that  developing  countries  such  as  Brazil  and  China  have  made  significant  economic  gains  from  the  development  of  sustainable  energy  solutions.  However,  the  World  Bank  cautions  that  investment  in  these  industries  must  be  tempered  with  policy  incentives.      Following  the  impacts  of  the  global  financial  crisis  and  world  wide  bailouts,  I  think  we  must  accept  that  some  government  intervention  is  required  in  markets.  More  so,  when  considering  the  environment  which  has  and  will  have  global  implications  in  our  generations  and  the  next.        The  factors  I  have  just  mentioned,  an  inability  to  understand  the  complex  science  around  human  induced  climate  change,  as  well  as  the  significant  vested  interests  from  the  fossil  fuel  industries  and  their  efforts  to  establish  widespread  public  doubt  have  caused  the  state  of  affairs  we  now  face  today.        
    • Interestingly,  CSIRO  research  revealed  that  most  Australians  predicted  that  a  higher  than  accurate  number  of  people  believed  that  their  views  were  wide  spread.  That  is,  anthropogenic  climate  change  believers  felt  that  a  majority  of  people  agreed  with  them  with  similar  results  from  those  who  accepted  that  climate  change  was  human  induced.  The  role  of  media  in  this  debate  is  certainly  considerable  but  I  will  leave  that  discussion  for  another  time.      A  pertinent  question  is  what  to  do  in  the  future.  We  need  both  widespread  acceptance  that  human  activities  are  causing  climate  change  and  also  an  approach  to  deal  with  it  that  is  both  global  and  national.      It  is  certainly  not  the  role  of  philosophy  to  determine  this  approach,  but  what  philosophy  certainly  can  contribute  is  an  opportunity  to  clarify  what  the  scope  of  this  argument  is.  In  Australia  and  to  a  greater  extent  in  America,  the  debate  around  climate  change  has  been  dominated  by  fear  mongering  and  political  trade  offs.  This  has  contributed  to  the  state  of  affairs  we  see  today  where  the  basic  facts  of  climate  change  are  contested  and  any  effort  to  address  or  mitigate  climate  change  is  seen  as  an  economic  death  nail.      Following  the  Rio  summit  this  part  June  Elizabeth  Kolbert  wrote  in  the  New  Yorker  that  “it  may  seem  impossible  to  imagine  that  an  advanced  society  could  choose,  in  essence,  to  destroy  itself,  but  that  is  what  we  are  now  in  the  process  of  doing”.      I  hope  that  while  we  adapt  to  the  effects  of  climate  change  in  the  21st  century,  we  will  also  see  a  turn  in  the  national,  international  and  general  public  consensus  around  climate  change  action.  Philosophy  can  and  should  lift  the  tone  of  this  discussion.  Just  as  in  the  Enlightenment  philosophy  helped  frame  a  new  world  order-­‐  so  I  hope  that  it  can  address  the  challenge  of  climate  change.      The  issue  is  complex  and  I  hope  that  I  have  covered  some  of  the  major  tenants.  We  must  explore  the  obligations  of  the  west  to  address  damage  that  has  already  occurred,  and  we  must  understand  the  shape  of  our  global  responsibilities  in  limiting  emissions  in  the  future.      We  must  also  understand  what  motivates  climate  scepticism  if  we  are  to-­‐  and  we  must-­‐  address  the  doubts  of  sceptics  within  Australia’s  society  and  around  the  world.      Thank  you.