The Rock Ethics Institute


Climate Ethics

An Unprecedented Problem. A Global Solution.

Climate Change Homepage

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, many global issues will be affected by climate change. These include significant impacts on basic needs such as food, water, health, and shelter.  According to the EPA climate change will affect individuals and groups differently. Certain groups of people are particularly sensitive to climate change impacts, such as the elderly, the infirm, children, native and tribal groups, and low-income populations.  The EPA stresses that impacts are likely to differ in both magnitude and rate of change in different continents, countries, and regions. They also warn that conflicts, mass migrations, health impacts, or environmental stresses in other parts of the world could raise national security issues.

Who bears responsibility for protecting those whose basic rights are threatened by climate change? What constitutes an ethically justifiable response? These are just a few of the urgent questions raised by climate change. The goal of the Rock Ethics Institute is to partner with scientists, engineers, and policy makers to insure that questions like this do not go unaddressed. Global solutions must be fair solutions.

Climate change poses historically unprecedented challenges and profound ethical questions – but also new opportunities for global innovation and cooperation.

Who Can Help

Policy makers: those who are engaged in policy discussions, from the local to the global level, and scientists who are informing policy-making processes

Teachers: educators in K-12 and university setting

Leaders: people of all ages who strive to be ethically informed to Stand Up for global justice

How is Penn State Contributing?

Penn State is taking a leadership role in responding to global climate change. Penn State scientists have served as Lead Authors in the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other Penn State scientists enjoyed the honor of sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded jointly to the IPCC and Al Gore. Penn State has joined the U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge and pledged to reduce its building portfolio’s energy use by 20 percent by 2024. Penn State students have also taken on a leadership role. Through groups such as Eco-Action and initiatives like the newspaper recycling program and Friday Night Lights Out, students are helping to make Penn State an innovative leader in climate change response.

The Rock Ethics Institute supports Penn State in its efforts to become an ethical exemplar in meeting the global challenge of climate change, and we urge the larger University community to become informed of these and the many other ways Penn State is Standing Up for climate justice.

Global climate change is already having an impact on many natural and human systems as can be seen in the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Images of Change.