Ethics? What Ethics?

by | May 29, 2008

Ben has a review of James Garvey’s The Ethics of Climate Change: right and wrong in a changing world over at Culture Wars:

Few arguments in favour of action to mitigate the effects of climate change begin without claiming that ‘the science is in’. James Garvey’s The Ethics of Climate Change is no exception. There begins an account of the ‘science’ which forms the basis of an unassailable consensus that the world faces a terrifying future. The account is a breathless list of tragedies that await us: sea-level rises, species-extinctions, glacial retreat, resource wars, and climate refugees, all of which will be worse for the poor, and most of which have been caused by the industrialised world. We face ‘planetary upheaval, the deaths of countless living things, human suffering on an enormous scale and all sorts of other horrors’, Garvey tells us. Be very afraid. 

This scientific account generates the imperatives that we, in this perilous world, are supposed to respond to – if we want to be ‘ethical’, that is. But, as Garvey goes on to point out, ‘scientific facts are a necessary part of reflection on climate change, but they are nothing near the whole of it’. The moral philosopher is on hand to help us navigate the awkward journey, beset by doom, catastrophe, and other unimaginable horrors, toward a future of mere survival…

Read the rest of Environmentalism’s Fig Leaf here.


  1. Robert Wood

    Nice disection of the moral argument. However, it is surely best defeated by pointing out that CO2 is a fertilizer and good for the planet.

  2. john a. bailo is predicting an increase in cyclones and hurricanes — after an almost 2 year lull. However, they are attributing it not to warming but to a cooler Pacific Ocean! Suggesting that its temperature differentials not overall heating that drives “bad weather”. We’ll see if temperatures continue to stay the same, or decline…


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