- 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)
- See Complete Table of Contents
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
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
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.
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