Philosophy and Climate Change (The Philosophers' Corner-Sydney-Australia)
What philosophy can contribute to the climate change debate
“We do not yet have a good understanding of manyof the ethical issues at stake in global-warmingpolicy”. We remain confused about vital factors likewho should take responsibility, equity betweengenerations and how to think about nonhumananimals. This confusion, gives us reason for avoidingour obligations. Resistance by governments totaking action, attempts by various players to throwsand in the eyes of the public and speciousarguments to justify an unwillingness to do what isnecessary – “moral corruption”.The subversion of our moral discourse to our ownendsClive Hamilton quoting Stephen Gardiner
• The question of how we should 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• How best to understand the collective action necessary to address climate change• The argument from skepticism and why we still face significant skepticism as to the causes of climate change
How should we best address the impacts of climate change? • “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” CSIRO, 2011http://www.csiro.au/Outcomes/Climate/Understanding/Humans-Changing-Climate/Atmospheric-greenhouse-gas-exceeds-pre-industrial-levels.aspx
Precautionary principle If an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientificconsensus that the action or policy is harmful,the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.
Cosmopolitanism• 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• The emergence of a notion of human rights and a philosophical focus on human reason Kleingeld and Brown- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2002
Examples of Cosmopolitanism• 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.
Skepticism CSIRO Second Annual Survey of Australian Attitudes to Climate Change: INTERIM REPORT 2011Humans are causingclimate change Climate change is a natural fluctuation
Earth’s 35 year thermal inertia“The Earth has a 35 year thermal inertia and so… we’re waiting 35 yearseven to see the effects of what we did 35 years ago. So it would be another30 years until we started to really see, even at the only 380 parts per millionlevel that we’re doing now, what those effects are.And we’ll be at 550 parts per million by then – or more. It’s never beenabove 300. So there’s a serious debate over whether that will be very bador not, but all we know is no matter what we do when we get there, there’sno turning back." Dr. Nathan Lewis Professor of Chemistry California Institute of Technology
The detail of modern science is incomprehensibleto almost everyone, which means that we haveto take what scientists say on trust. Yet sciencetells us to trust nothing, to believe only what canbe demonstrated. This contradiction is fatal topublic confidence George Monbiot
The argument against skepticism“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” 1969, Brown and Williamson
Attitudes to climate change based on political affiliation