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A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy Of Climate Change (Environmental Ethics And Science Policy) (ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND SCIENCE POLICY SERIES) Paperback – 1 Mar 2013

3.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, Usa; Reprint edition (1 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199985146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199985142
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 2.8 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 968,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. Required reading. (Robin Whitlock, Green Prophet)

About the Author


Stephen M. Gardiner is Professor of Philosophy and Ben Rabinowitz Endowed Professor of Human Dimensions of the Environment at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the coordinating co-editor of Climate Ethics: Essential Readings (Oxford, 2010), and the editor of Virtue Ethics: Old and New (Cornell, 2005). He is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook on Environmental Ethics with Allen Thompson.


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Format: Hardcover
If there is a more important book on Amazon I don't know of it. Gardiner explains why we are doing so little about a potential climate change catastrophe, when 1% of global GDP could fix it (`so little we would hardly notice it'). The book, even by academic standards is rigorous, meticulous and exceedingly fair-minded but he suggests useful `skips' for the less technically minded. You don't need to be a moral philosopher to understand it.
He very swiftly summarises the scientific consensus - CO2 emissions are up 30% since 1990 and still rising, and we need a cut of 50% to 80% by 2050.
Until very recently average global temperatures have been constant, plus or minus half a degree, for 10,000 years. Depending in part on future emissions, global temperatures will rise this century by between 1.1 C and 6.4 C. There was a 5 C increase between the ice age and now. We are in danger of creating a different planet.
He uses the metaphor of a Perfect Moral Storm to explain why we seem paralysed in the headlights of this possible catastrophe. He argues there are three mutually reinforcing `moral storms'.
The Intergenerational Storm - in the face of conflicts of interest, we usually debate and compromise. But future generations can't talk. They are either not born yet, or are too young to defend themselves against our self-interest. No institution or individual represents future generations in climate talks for example, and governments have short time scales of a few decades at most. So each generation passes the problem on, in a more severe form, and with less time to deal with it.
The Global Storm - we aren't good at global governance, or at enforcing the few agreements we do make.
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Format: Hardcover
The author of this book accepts without question the several IPCC reports of the doomladen future of mankind. He has no scientific qualifications, being a moral philosopher. Yet there is substantial evidence that the temperature of the earth has been cooling since the late 1990s, and that the dire predictions of the IPCC have not come to pass at all. No countries have disappeared under the sea, and the only major floods have come from earthquakes and tsunamis, phenomena totally unrelated to CO2 levels in the air. There were many schoolboy howlers in the latest IPCC report, including a precise prediction of the demise of Himalayan glaciers in 2036. The allegation has since been withdrawn, and in fact, the latest aerial surveys of the region show growth rather than shrinkage of the ice. The computer models at the heart of the IPCC allegations have serious flaws, especially in their neglect of water as a vapour and as an aerosol (clouds). No wise scientist would extrapolate on uncertain data from the present to 2100, but yet that is exactly what the IPCC has done. Gardiner rides a very high moral horse, but if the basic science is mistaken, he will look very silly indeed. One would have thought there are many more ethical issues in the world today without raising questionable topics like climate change. Perhaps Gardiner should examine war and terrorism first, an area where his own country, the USA, has a rather disreputable record in using torture against innocent people, and conducting wars against nations with criminal effects, as in Iraq and Afghanistan.Read more ›
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Exposition of the Moral and Ethical Elements Surrounding Climate Change 31 Jan. 2014
By David H. Vonseggern - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A Perfect Moral Storm is a supremely written volume and requires much from the reader. However, it is well worth the attention. In a tight discourse of nearly 500 pages, the author presents his perspective on the moral challenge posed by global warming. If the text alone were not enough, ample footnotes on nearly every page carry details of the author’s arguments. Whence the title? The author states that “… climate change constitutes a perfect moral storm that threatens our ability to behave ethically.”

Gardiner is able to see every argument from nearly every perspective, and the treatment is thorough on most items. The author goes past covering whether global warming is real or not (he firmly thinks it is) and focuses on what we are morally bound to do about it. He poses the moral problem as an intergenerational one and one that has to do with justice for the disadvantaged. Take, for instance, his statement that “… many of the victims of our bad behavior (the poor, future generations, and nature) lack the ability not only to resist, but even to make their concerns heard.”

The most clever chapter of the book may be Chapter 9 in which the author draws a long and solid analogy between the behavior of certain characters in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and that of principal geopolitical characters in the world climate forums. In both cases he demonstrates moral corruption, one at a very small scale and the other at global scale.

One of the themes he returns to often is that our current political systems are possibly incapable of dealing with the problem, if in fact they have not already shown it. The problems that local communities or even nation states have dealt with in the past are not global in extent, and the methods at their disposal are not developed or refined enough to deal with the current global moral challenge. He says “Perhaps existing institutions and theories must be radically reconceptualized to reflect new global and ecological realities…” With states failing, he even suggests that the burden falls back on individual citizens to take action, as in many other cases where the states could not seem to meet the challenge (think abolition, for instance).

The author makes a very cogent case for the fact that we (individuals and political entities) are failing to meet the climate crisis. He points out that this has been true for two decades now and that the outlook becomes grimmer with every year of inaction. His final sentence in the conclusion to Chapter 11 says that “… what we do now falls far short of any morally defensible goal.” Chapter 12, a discussion of the immediate future, begins with “We face a looming global environmental tragedy.” The work of Gardiner should be required reading for all who are working to mitigate global warming and especially all who are politically engaged with this problem at the world level.

Lastly, the author discourages waiting for solutions to come by “luck”. This approach is “morally impermissible, and a sign of deep corruption.” Some of the “luck” solutions may be a geoengineering breakthrough, a significant cost reduction in renewable energy sources, or some natural feedback mechanism that miraculously cancels global warming. Waiting for such a solution is not only reckless; but, were it to happen, we would escape from grappling with the moral challenge sitting before us now and therefore not progress as an intelligent species.
5.0 out of 5 stars Belongs on my Kindles 25 Feb. 2017
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
For me, where I'm at on learning about climate change and climate denial, anything less than a full 5 stars would be a bad faith report on this philosophy book. I recommend this book. It belongs on my Kindles because it clarifies the issues while giving us a warning on what to expect from the deniers.
I need to add my support for the "Exercise in mental masturbation" review. I agree and know that it's up to the rest of us to share intellectual styles in our own words for others.
Ed Evans
climatedeception.net
5.0 out of 5 stars The result makes the work worthwhile 14 Dec. 2013
By Fiona - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent dissection of the actual climate change mitigation problem. It is tough to read through the endless hair-splitting detail, but the work is worth it in terms of the precision that Gardiner achieves. Every climate negotiator should read this book, examine his/her conscience and then act. Every citizen should read something a bit less daunting and then act. I thoroughly enjoyed the Austen dissection and my eyes opened wider and wider as the parallels with the climate negotiations became clear. I would only recommend the whole book to someone very interested in the issues.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exercise in mental masturbation 26 April 2013
By Karel L. Rogers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This books makes some important points but fails in so many ways to communicate with an audience that will make a difference. When will intellectuals/academics learn to speak in ways that appeal to someone who isn't in the academy? The laborious point-by-point arguments, many of which are repetitive, are painful to read. This was surprising to me because the book received an excellent review in the journal Nature.
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars 1 Nov. 2015
By Douglas S. Longman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Revised edition could really use some IPCC data in a situation analysis section
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