A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change by Stephen M. Gardiner | Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change

A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change

by Stephen M. Gardiner
     
 

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Climate change is one, especially clear, instantiation of a profound challenge to humanity. The problem is genuinely global, dominantly intergenerational, and takes place in a setting where our theories are weak. This convergence justifies calling it a "perfect moral storm". One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions

Overview

Climate change is one, especially clear, instantiation of a profound challenge to humanity. The problem is genuinely global, dominantly intergenerational, and takes place in a setting where our theories are weak. This convergence justifies calling it a "perfect moral storm". One consequence of this storm is that, even if the other difficult ethical questions surrounding climate change could be answered, we might still find it difficult to act. For the storm makes us extremely vulnerable to moral corruption.

This book explores how the perfect moral storm is manifest in climate change. It argues that despite decades of awareness, we are currently accelerating hard into the problem in a way that defies standard explanations. This suggests that our current focus on the scientific and economic dimensions of the problem is too narrow, and the tendency to see climate change as a traditional tragedy of the commons facing nation states too optimistic. The key problem is that the current generation, and especially the most affluent, are in a position to pass on most of the costs of their behavior (and especially the most serious harms) to the global poor, future generations and nonhuman nature. This diagnosis helps to explain the past failures of international climate policy, and in particular the "shadow solutions" of Kyoto and Copenhagen. It also casts light on some of the seemingly perpetual problems in our public discourse, and on the current push towards geoengineering. Finally, it suggests a need for better public ethics. We must work harder on articulating the ethical problem, and moral constraints on solutions. In the meantime, there is a role for "defensive" moral and political philosophy, aimed at preserving the quality of public discourse.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. —Required reading." —Robin Whitlock, Green Prophet

"Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." —Steve Yearley, Times Higher Education

"Stephen Gardiner takes to a new level our understanding of the moral dimensions of climate change. A Perfect Moral Storm argues convincingly that climate change is the greatest moral challenge our species has ever faced — and that the problem goes even deeper than we think." —Peter Singer, Princeton University

"This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." — Holmes Rolston, III, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"Everyone who is interested in ethics, the future of her children, or the welfare of the planet, should read this book. Clear, analytically precise, and superbly written, Gardiner does practical philosophy at its very best. In analyzing the ethics of climate change, no moral philosopher anywhere does a better job than Gardiner. He sets the standard for work in this area." —Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Philosophy and Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame

"Gardiner's A Perfect Moral Storm sets a new standard in erudition, philosophical rigor, and interdisciplinary breadth in discussions of climate ethics. This book should be read by any philosopher, scientist, or policy-maker who is serious about addressing the moral challenge with which climate change confronts us." —Dale Jamieson, Environmental Studies and Philosophy, New York University

"Written with great authority and lucidity, A Perfect Moral Storm identifies exactly why our ethical theories and intuitions have been found wanting in relation to climate change. Before seeking to remove the speck in other people's eyes—laying the blame—it is best to remove the log in one's own. Gardiner's book helps us to do just that: for professionals, students and advocates alike. This will be an important benchmark analysis for years to come." — Mike Hulme, Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia

"In the most penetrating analysis yet Gardiner convincingly shows the sources of the dangers likely to be our frightful legacy to coming generations. With steely foresight he pioneers the exploration of the climate abysses, including geo-engineering, that shamefully bad idea whose time seems ready to come." —Henry Shue, Politics and International Relations, Oxford University

"A Perfect Moral Storm exposes the multiple hidden agendas behind the fiery but largely vacuous public debate that focuses on the credibility of climate change science. By challenging us to acknowledge and come to grips with the profound ethical dimensions of global, intergenerational issues like human induced climate change, Gardiner's book will help us to understand and hopefully to move beyond the current impasse in environmental policy legislation." —Mike Wallace, Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington

"Gardiner's is a distinctive voice at the forefront of contemporary debates about the ethical implications of climate change. Much of what he writes is profoundly unsettling, revealing not only the nature and scale of the problem facing us — a perfect moral storm —but also why it is so hard for us to shift the personal and institutionalized motivations that are leading us into an already unfolding global environmental tragedy. I expect the book to be highly influential in shaping ethical debate in the years to come." —Tim Hayward, Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

"The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." —Science Magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195379440
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/04/2011
Series:
Environmental Ethics and Science Policy Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
512
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.60(d)

Meet the Author

Stephen M. Gardiner is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Washington in Seattle. His main research interests are in ethical theory, political philosophy, environmental ethics and Aristotle's ethics. He is a co-editor (with Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson and Henry Shue) of Climate Ethics: Essential Readings, and the editor of Virtue Ethics, Old and New.

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