Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The ethics of the climate emergency

Philosophy News image
During the last few days of February we experienced the warmest Winter day since records began, with a high of 20.6 degrees (Celsius) at Trawscoed in mid-Wales. As if that was not enough, the record was broken again the next day with 21.2 degrees at Kew Gardens. This unseasonable weather is one of many signs of climate change and global warming. Another has been the flowering of snowdrops this Winter which began in late December. So did the opening of daffodils, which in William Wordsworth’s day did not flower until April. Recently, tens of thousands of school students stayed away from classrooms to demonstrate for action on climate change. They are recognising that there is a climate emergency, and that governments and corporations need to take emergency action. Last October, an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report explained why average temperature increases must be restricted to 1.5 degrees, one of the agreed goals of the Paris agreement of 2015. Limiting average increases to 2 degrees, they explain, will be nowhere near enough to prevent the flooding of low-lying islands and coastal cities, and the loss of almost all coral reefs. Disappointingly, however, the national commitments made at Paris would spell a catastrophic increase of towards 3 degrees. Governments need to rachet up these commitments at coming review conferences, as a matter of urgency. Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General, is soon to hold the first of these review conferences. The UK government, which is hoping to host this conference, needs to commit now to more drastic cuts to set an example to the rest of the world. Ethicists debate the grounds for taking such emergencies seriously. By now it is widely agreed that the people of the present matter, however distant, and wherever they live. But many of them are losing their livelihoods because of climate change, and they are usually people who have hardly at all contributed to it. And that is hardly fair. Most people also agree. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

blog comments powered by Disqus