Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (Norton Global Ethics Series)

Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (Norton Global Ethics Series)

John Broome

Language: English

Pages: 224

ISBN: 0393063364

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A vital new moral perspective on the climate change debate.

Esteemed philosopher John Broome avoids the familiar ideological stances on climate change policy and examines the issue through an invigorating new lens. As he considers the moral dimensions of climate change, he reasons clearly through what universal standards of goodness and justice require of us, both as citizens and as governments. His conclusions―some as demanding as they are logical―will challenge and enlighten. Eco-conscious readers may be surprised to hear they have a duty to offset all their carbon emissions, while policy makers will grapple with Broome’s analysis of what if anything is owed to future generations. From the science of greenhouse gases to the intricate logic of cap and trade, Broome reveals how the principles that underlie everyday decision making also provide simple and effective ideas for confronting climate change. Climate Matters is an essential contribution to one of the paramount issues of our time.

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REDD is supposed to supply offsets to companies and nations. You will be dealing with smaller offsetting companies. There are independent organizations that verify and certify the projects of these companies, to make sure they are truly “additional.” I think we can rely on their work to an extent. By judicious choice of an offsetting company, by attention to its certification, and perhaps by overbuying offsets to allow a safety margin, you can make yourself reasonably confident that you are

noticeable difference to your wealth. That matters because of what economists call the “diminishing marginal benefit of money.” This is an important notion in the ethics of risk, and it needs explaining. It will come up later in other contexts too. The word “marginal” is economist-speak for a small change. In this case it refers to a small change in your wealth. By “benefit” I mean an increase in your well-being, and by “well-being” I mean how well off your are, or how well your life goes.

Economists find it relatively easy to discover the value people set on a particular commodity, because the market does the work for them. Each commodity has a price on the market, which can be used as a measure of the commodity’s value to people. The price of a commodity shows what people are willing to pay for it, which is an indicator of how much they value it and (it is assumed) how much well-being it brings them. Moreover, the prices of different commodities are all quantities of

largely by the inadequacy of money as a measure of value. However, whatever the difficulties about how valuable human life is, there is little doubt that it is valuable. Killing is generally bad because it reduces the quantity of this valuable thing; saving life is generally good because it increases it. Perhaps some very unhappy lives are not good, but those are rare exceptions. Birth and birth control are other ways of increasing and decreasing the quantity of human life on the planet.

130, 131 fires, 32, 118, 120, 130 fish, 31, 36 fisheries, 36 fixed resources, 70–71 floating ice, 1, 4 floods, 2, 5, 7, 11, 31, 32, 76 deaths from, 134, 158, 180 flying, 73, 74, 76–77, 82, 101 food, 22, 134, 161 for cattle, 23 famines and, 69 local, 80 rice, 23, 55, 137–38, 139, 144 see also farming forests: destruction of, 22, 23, 31, 35, 88 REDD and, 88, 95 fossil fuel: burning of, 2 energy from, 6, 22,

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