Ethics & Climate Change: The Greenhouse Effect

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 1993 M08 19 - 199 pages
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Faced with the prospect of global warming, the anticipated rapid rise in global air temperatures due to the release of gases into the atmosphere, we have two choices of how to respond: adaptation or avoidance. With adaptation we keep burning fossil fuels, let global temperatures rise and make whatever changes this requires: move people from environmentally damaged areas, build sea walls, etc. With avoidance we stop warming from occurring, either by reducing our use of fossil fuels or by using technology such as carbon dioxide recovery after combustion to block the warming effect. Yet each strategy has its drawbacks—adaptation may not be able to occur fast enough to accommodate the expected temperature increases, but avoidance would be prohibitively expensive. An ethically acceptable goal must involve some mixture of adaptation and avoidance.

Written by a team of scientists, social scientists, humanists, legal and environmental scholars and corporate researchers, this book offers an ethical analysis of possible responses to the problem. Their analyses of the scientific and technological data and the ethical principles involved in determining whose interests should be considered point to a combination of adaptation and avoidance of greenhouse gas production. They offer assessments of personal, corporate, government and international responsibility and a series of recommendations to aid decision-makers in determining solutions and apportioning responsibility.

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1 The Challenge
2 Ethical Principles
3 Religious Responsibility
4 The ArcticA Canadian Case Study
5 Personal Responsibility
6 Corporate Responsibility
7 International Responsibility
Efficiency and Ethical Considerations
9 Energy Efficiency at Home and Abroad
About the Authors

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Page 46 - Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.
Page 40 - The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
Page 116 - States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
Page 60 - Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow...
Page 60 - This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.
Page 119 - Convention, stabilization of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system.
Page 59 - All ethics so far evolved rest upon a single premise: that the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts.
Page 178 - Draft Principles of Conduct in the Field of the Environment for the Guidance of States in the Conservation and Harmonious Utilization of Natural Resources Shared by Two or More States.
Page 40 - And the land shall not be sold in perpetuity ; for the land is mine : for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

About the author (1993)

Harold Coward is Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria and a member of the Board of Directors of the Canadian Global Change Program of the Royal Society of Canada.

Harold Coward is a professor of history and director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria.

Thomas Hurka is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Calgary. From 1989–92 he wrote a weekly ethics column for The Globe and Mail.

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