PHIL 224, Week 12: Climate change ethics
Special request for students who got 9/9 on assignment 2 using Empathica: if you don't mind, please email me your value maps so I can use them for an article I'm writing on environmental ethics.
Blog on zombie ethics.
Reading for week 12 is not in text: Gardiner, "Ethics and Global Climate Change"
Atlas of emissions
Dec. 1, Exam 3, in class. No final exam.
Structure: same as exam 1, 4 short answers and short essay. Only weeks 9-12 are covered.
Review questions are available at the end of the lecture notes.
How to do well:
- Come to class and pay attention. Ask questions.
- Do not use laptops or other electronics, for these reasons.
- Read the text carefully and critically.
- Prepare detailed answers to review questions.
Why Climate Change is a Hard Scientific Problem
- Potentially disastrous consequences
- Extreme weather
- Water and food supply problems: drought and famine
- Sea level increases
- Infectious diseases
- Animal extinctions
- Uncertainty about future developments
- computer models
- unintended consequences
- Conflicting interests: developed vs. developing countries
- Problems of getting countries to agree: Durban conference 2011
Reasons for Denying the Problem
- Motivated interest: politicians don't want to use government actions to limit economic activity.
- Worry-driven inference avoidance: ordinary people don't want to think about consequences of climate change.
Why Climate Change is a Hard Ethical problem
- Tragedy of the commons: if all countries pursue self-interest, everyone loses.
- Problem of future generations and discounting
- Problem of distribution of costs and benefits
- Problem of responsibilities for past actions
What is to be Done?
- International agreements to reduce carbon emissions
- Dramatic drop in use of fossil fuels
- Carbon tax
- Cap and trade
- Development of alternative energy sources
- Solar, wind, tides
- Geothermal & enhanced
- Carbon capture
- Solar radiation management
Review Questions for Week 12
- State and explain 4 reasons why climate change is a hard ethical problem.
- State and explain 4 plausible strategies for dealing ethically with climate change.
- Essay: From the ethical perspectives of consequences and rights, what should countries be doing about climate change?
- statement of at least two alternatives
- consequences pro and con, and evaluation
- rights and duties, pro and con, and evaluation
- overall evaluation.
This page updated Nov. 28, 2011