In Stephen Gardiner’s work A Perfect Moral Storm (2011), there are several critical elements that hinder society from being ethical in our conduct related to climate change, as well as theoretical aspects that combine spatial, theoretical and generational factors that expose people to “moral corruption.” Gardiner explains that the main conflict with regards to climate change is a failure to recognize the ethical dimensions of the issue of climate change (Vladimirova, 2013, par. 1).
Many climate analysts are in accord that the main cause of the prevailing global warming movement is the widening and expansion of human activities, or the more commonly known “greenhouse effect.” The trapping of the gases in the atmosphere results in a rise in global temperatures.
A number of gases in the air obstruct the heat coming from the ground from escaping into space. These gases that are in the atmosphere and are immune to either chemical or physical changes in the atmosphere are known “forcing” climate changes; water vapor that responds to changes are called “feedbacks.”
The expansions of human activities are permanently the natural composition of greenhouse gases. Over the past 100 years, the growing consumption of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, and natural gas has grown the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The concentration levels of this gas results from the combination of the carbon released with the consumption of oil and coal with the oxygen in the atmosphere, producing carbon dioxide. However, there are other activities that lend itself to the problem of climate change. The clearing of forested lands converted for agricultural purposes and a number of other human actions have also contributed to the rise in greenhouse gases.
In the Fourth Assessment Report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared that 9 out of 10 human activities over the past quarter of a millennium have directly contributed to the rise in global temperatures. The industrial progressions invented, developed by, and heavily depended upon by humans have increased the rate of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from 280 parts per million to more than 370 parts per million over a period of 150 years.
In addition, the panel also concluded that there is a 90 percent probability that greenhouse gases produced as a result of human activity-nitrous oxide, methane, and carbon dioxide-have been at the center for the past 150 years where there was a marked increase in greenhouse gases as well as global temperatures (National Aeronautics and Space Administration 1).
Gardiner (2011) presents a theoretical maelstrom that suggests climate as a test for the international community, particularly its mores and political entities. Here, Gardiner presents this position in that even the best and well-thought out plans at this present time are inappropriate for the resolution of the issue of climate change (2011, p. 2014). In attempting to discover the answers to the problem of climate change, the problem of climate change is being addressed in the short-term when it should have been answered with long-term policy planning (Vladimirova, 2013, par. 1).
Climate change, in the context of philosophy, is sought to be addressed by theorists with the use of “corrective justice.” Under this principle, industrialized nations have the greater burden to bear to fund mitigation programs, and absolve the less developed and poverty stricken nations from any responsibility with regards to climate change. The basis for this position is that a majority of emissions in the past that were produced by the nations that became wealthy owing to their industrial activities, thus contributing more greenhouse gases.
Another set of philosophical principles regarding climate change are anchored on equity. This premise states that all humans are equal, hence equally entitled to share in the bounty of the world; these goods are mostly intangible, such as freedom, opportunity and dignity. Tangible goods, such as property and resources, are never shared equally.
Here, theorists posit the argument that all peoples have an equal right to share in a pollution-free atmosphere. In one version of the argument, there should be the determination on the “safe” amount that Co2 can be absorbed into the atmosphere and then ration that amount to people and states. If the person or state exceeds the amount, then the person or state would have to stop producing carbon dioxide, or pay another person who is emitting less than their allotted share, and purchase the rights of the other for their share. These positions point to one direction and that is all nations and individuals have a responsibility to decrease their contributions in releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and slow down the impacts of climate change in the world.
Here, arguments posed on equality are laid out in much the same fashion. The only difference in this position is that when emission rates go to zero or at the very least reduced to low figures, the rates will be equal for developed and developing nations. Nevertheless, allocation of emission quotas is only effective in terms of positive emission rates. The solution, therefore, is not the attainment of allocations; the solution must be anchored on the party or parties that pay for the transition period (Weisbach 5, 57).
Vladiromova, Katia. “A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Gardiner, 2011) <http://www.plurilogue.com/2013/10/a-perfect-moral-storm-ethical-tragedy.html>
National Aeronautics and Space Administration. “A blanket around the Earth”. <http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/>
Weisbach, David. “Debating climate change.” < http://www.law.northwestern.edu/research-faculty/colloquium/environmental/documents/Debating20Climate20Change-20Weisbach20Spring202013.pdf>