Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Climate Change, Live and Let Live, and Freedom

The Ethics of Climate Change by John Broom asserts that “some people—chiefly the better-off among the current generation—will have to reduce their emission of greenhouse gases to save future generations…” This is part of the conflicting interests that demand ethical questions involved in climate change response. Broom also states that “those who benefit from something should not impose its cost on others who do not” and most people recognize that you should not do something for your own benefit if it harms others. The issue is then to understand the sometimes complex, domino effect manner in which your actions can harm others. The other and perhaps even more difficult issue is the qualifier “most”. An example of this stems from a conversation with a fellow student, whom I loosely paraphrase as stating, I do not believe in ethics, as my philosophy is live and let live, so we should not be telling anyone how to go about living their lives. John Ehrenfeld may see this as a symptom of “hyper-individualism” which he describes in Sustainability By Design. Lester Brown in a May 2009 Scientific American article points out that when a government can’t provide security or basic services the breakdown of society in these countries overflows and has consequences to other areas such as spreading disease, weapons, and violence. This should appeal to the self preservation side of anyone. The irony of “freedom” is that it can lead to the absence of it....continued

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