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Climate Change

Are Fossil Fuel Industry Commercials Encouraging Americans to Engage In Unethical Climate Change Causing Behavior?

ClimateEthics has written frequently about some obvious ethical problems with cost arguments often made by opponents of climate change policies. Among other problems with cost arguments are that they (a) don't acknowledge duties, obligations, and responsibilities to those most vulnerable to climate change impacts, (b) ignore obligations to prevent human rights violations, (c) wind up being used to give polluters permission to cause great harm to human health and the environment around the world, and, (d) often ignore the costs of doing nothing to reduce the threat of climate change. For instance, see: Ethical Problems With Cost Arguments Against Climate Change Policies: The Failure To Recognize Duties To Non-citizens.

Climate & Social Justice: The Front Line of the People's Climate March

Credit: Alex FeldmanCredit: Alex Feldman Before world leaders gathered this week in New York at the United Nations to discuss climate change, two significant protests took place. On Sunday, September 21, the People’s Climate March, a big-tent protest uniting hundreds of NGOs, attracted a crowd of more than 300,000 to walk from 86th St. and Central Park West to 34th St. and 11th Ave. in Manhattan. The protest included Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. It is being billed as the largest climate protest in history.

Climate Change and Your Health How far should a doctor to go to address the health challenges of her patients? For Dr. Wendy Ring, a physician who has worked for decades caring for the medically underserved in Northern California, the answer is quite literally across the country – by bike.

Election Day and the Environment

Credit: Alex Feldman As election day draws near, it’s to important think about the environmental impact of your vote in Pennsylvania. It is sometimes tempting to think that ethics and politics are different matters, especially when what happens in the political sphere is often messy and unpleasant and out of step with privately held moral beliefs.

Ethical Issues Entailed By Economic Arguments Against Climate Change Policies.

Ethical issues are everywhere. Perhaps the greatest ethical issue of the time arrives as a problem that has the power to change the planet. Climate Change is a grave issue that is facing the world today. This can be seen from evidence stated by the UNFCCC.

Ethical Problems With Cost Arguments Made In Opposition to Climate Change Policies: The Failure To Value The Harms That Will Be Caused by Doing Nothing.

This post is one of a series of entries that has looked at ethical problems with cost arguments made in opposition to the adoption of climate change legislation and policies. As we have seen in prior ClimateEthics' posts, with the possible exception of arguments that claim the science of climate change does not support action on climate change, by far the most common arguments against action on climate change are claims that proposed climate change policies should be opposed on grounds that they cost too much.

Ethical Problems With Cost Arguments Against Climate Change Policies: Increased Costs May Not Justify Human Rights Violations

As we have seen in prior ClimateEthics' posts, with the possible exception of arguments that claim the science of climate change does not support action on climate change, by far the most common arguments against action on climate change are claims that proposed climate change policies should be opposed on grounds that they cost too much. These arguments are of various types such as claims that climate change legislation will destroy jobs, reduce GDP, damage specific businesses such as the coal and petroleum industries, increase the cost of fuel, or simply that proposed climate change legislation can't be afforded by the public. This post is one of a series that identifies ethical problems with these cost arguments made against the adoption of climate change policies and legislation.

Grandma Rhode's ethics of climate change

Emma Minnie Rhode, 1902-1998Fossil Fuel UseBiking from State College to DC So, I wonder what my grandma would have to say about climate change? It seems like such a huge, overwhelming problem. The scientists’ predictions are dire: we have only ten years to turn our emissions around. I guess she’d say “when you’ve got too much to do, just pick something up and start doing it!”

Have We Been Asking the Wrong Questions About Climate Change Science? Why Strong Climate Change Ethical Duties Exist Before Scientific Uncertainties are Resolved.

Are we asking climate change science some of the wrong questions? If what we do about the threat of climate change is an ethical issue, how does this affect how we talk about: (a) climate change science, (b) climate change "alarmists,"(d) the appropriate role of climate change skeptics, (e) what we mean when we make claims that climate change science is "settled", (d) what should nations, sub-national governments. organizations, and individuals do to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions in light of what science is saying about climate change impacts?

On State Patty's Day: Beyond Headaches and Infamy

Given that it's St. Patrick's Day, I thought today might be a good time for some reflection on the similarly named day of celebration that occurred in State College just before Spring Break. As that day approached, I became aware of various efforts that were afoot to provide alternative outlets for student energies--outlets that were designed to be more helpful for the larger community and more reflective of what we want to identify as the real character of Penn State. I was impressed by the way the PSU-IPL articulated the message behind their 'Positively Green' alternative, and by the way Sara Kizer articulated the reasons leading to the Council of Lion Hearts' 'State Service Day'.

On The Moral Imperatives Of Speaking Publicly About the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change-And How It Must Be Done.

One of the great privileges of writing ClimateEthics is that it exposes the writer to the good, bad, and ugly of climate change arguments being made around the world. Actually quite frequently we receive thoughtful comments that force us to go a little deeper and in some cases correct mistakes or correct reasonable misinterpretations. Often we get inspiring comments.

Penn State aiming for Zero Carbon Emissions

Tree Penn State already boasts world-class researchers on climate change, but can we also become a leader in reducing our own greenhouse gas emissions? How can Penn State best prepare our students to face the challenges ahead of them? These were the questions posed to seventy-five participants at the Penn State Getting to Zero conference held at the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center on April 11, 2014.

Provocative ethics speaker to appear on campus

My own introduction to Regan's work came because of my interest in G. E. Moore, the-turn-of-the-(last)-century British philosopher who famously argued that the ultimate "goods" -- those that cannot be justified by reference to any other good -- are the appreciation of experiences of beauty and the appreciation of relationships with other people. All other values, he argued, ultimately can be measured by their tendency to contribute to detract from those things. Moore's ideas were very influential for the slightly younger generation of his students who became known as the Bloomsbury Group. Regan's book Bloomsbury's Prophet is very illuminating concerning Moore's influence on Bloomsbury. As part of a program for Penn State faculty to integrate ethics issues into their teaching, I used Regan's book to help create a unit on Moore's aesthetics in my English classes about Bloomsbury.

Should we care about how nature is thought of in other cultures?

Brett Davis Headshot Yes, and for several reasons. To begin with it is important to recognize that while we share the earth, ocean waters, and atmosphere with the rest of humanity, and while societies around the globe must cooperate in order to effectively respond to the dangers and even existential threat of climate change, our different cultures have conditioned us to experience natural phenomena and to understand the relation between humans and (the rest of) nature in different ways. Our artistic, scientific, philosophical, and religious traditions shape the ways in which we conceive of and perceive nature.

The Ethics of Carbon Cap and Trade Continued: Going Deeper On Our Original Analysis

This post continues exploration of ethical issues raised by the numerous carbon cap and trade regimes that have arisen or are under consideration around the world. One of the happy surprises of publishing ClimateEthics is that occasionally we get comments on our entries that raise very important and thought-provoking questions about our initial ethical analysis. This is a response to helpful comments by Robert Sullivan on our recent entry on the Ethics of Carbon Trading. This post originally appeared at: The section numbers referenced below refer to sections in the original article. In that article, ClimateEthics examined ethical questions that arise in cap and trade programs. These ethical questions fell into the following categories: (a) Justice of the Cap, (b) Creating Property Rights in the Atmosphere, (c) Environmental Effectiveness, (d) Distributive Justice, and (e) Procedural Justice

The Mystery of the Food Pyramids

A friend of mine is involved in the HealthWorks, a program at Penn State whose purpose is "to promote health among Penn State students." After getting back to our apartment from one of her HealthWorks classes, while deciding what we were going to make for dinner, she asked me, "Did you know there is a second food pyramid?" I told her that I didn't, and she began explaining what she had learned that day: Harvard had released a corrected and healthier food pyramid a few years ago that differed from the pyramid issued by the US government. As she was explaining the differences to me, I was shocked. I was shocked not about the dissimilar constructions but by the fact that I had never heard of any of it before. So I did a little research.

The Practical Significance of US Congressman Waxman's Achnowledgement That Climate Change Is A Moral Issue

On March 7th, US Congressman Henry Waxman, speaking at the Center for American Progress, encouraged Americans to see US action on climate change as a moral responsibility. To our knowledge, Congressman Waxman is the first US elected national politician to speak about the moral dimensions of climate change despite the fact that climate change must be understood as essentially a problem that creates a host of civilization challenging ethical issues. For this reason, Congressman Waxman should be commended.

Universities And The Need To Address Global Climate Change Across Disciplines and Programs

I have been living in Alaska the past few years, and in contrast to assumptions about faith in technology, some Inuit people tell me their foundations for government and education are based on traditional sets of relationships by which they have lived. Their fundamental belief is that the connections that individuals feel for each other and to their environment determine personal character and value to the community. Without using the word "sustainability," for Inuits this belief is the definition of "sustainability." Sustainability is a core value of Inuit life. Instead of having to be incorporated or infused into policies and programs, culturally embedded concepts of sustainability form a natural foundation from which all policies and practices are derived. This is an inversion of the usual approach to trying to incorporate sustainability in policies, laws, and practices of the Western world (IALEI 2009).

What is Ethics?

How can you move from ethical awareness to ethical action? The Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State can help guide you and give you some tools to help in both your professional and personal lives.

Where the Rhetoric Hits the Road

Like many of you, I've been following discussions of Gov. Corbett's proposed budget cuts fairly closely over the last week. My focus has been on trying to understand the line of reasoning that leads us from a claim around which there is general consensus ('Pennsylvania is in financial trouble') to a claim that is highly controversial ('The proper response to this trouble involves cutting the appropriation to Penn State by roughly 52%'). I am well aware that in admitting that, despite the effort I have put in, I still haven't grasped the connection between these claims, I run the risk of coming off as politically and economically naive. That's a risk I am willing to take, however, because I think the obstacles I have encountered in my attempts might deserve a bit more attention than they are currently getting.