Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World


A vital new moral perspective on the climate change debate.
Esteemed philosopher John Broome avoids the familiar ideological stances on climate change policy and examines the issue through an invigorating new lens. As he considers the moral dimensions of climate change, he reasons clearly through what universal standards of goodness and justice require of us, both as citizens and as governments. His conclusions—some as demanding as they are logical—will challenge and enlighten. ...

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Climate Matters: Ethics in a Warming World (Norton Global Ethics Series)

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A vital new moral perspective on the climate change debate.
Esteemed philosopher John Broome avoids the familiar ideological stances on climate change policy and examines the issue through an invigorating new lens. As he considers the moral dimensions of climate change, he reasons clearly through what universal standards of goodness and justice require of us, both as citizens and as governments. His conclusions—some as demanding as they are logical—will challenge and enlighten. Eco-conscious readers may be surprised to hear they have a duty to offset all their carbon emissions, while policy makers will grapple with Broome’s analysis of what if anything is owed to future generations. From the science of greenhouse gases to the intricate logic of cap and trade, Broome reveals how the principles that underlie everyday decision making also provide simple and effective ideas for confronting climate change. Climate Matters is an essential contribution to one of the paramount issues of our time.

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Editorial Reviews

Peter Singer
“In Climate Matters John Broome brings his lucid writing, sparkling insights, and deep moral seriousness to the greatest moral challenge of our time. This is practical ethics at its most brilliant and its most significant.”
Elizabeth Kolbert
“Climate Matters takes up where most books about global warming leave off. John Broome writes clearly and thoughtfully about the most pressing questions of our time.”
Ross Garnaut
“Broome applies ethical principles logically to private moral behavior and sound government policy on climate change, with interesting and sometimes surprising results. I want to argue with some of it, and climate change is worth arguing about.”
Lester R. Brown
“How refreshing to have John Broome, an economist, argue that we should incorporate ethics in climate policy formation.”
Nicholas Stern
“Unmanaged climate change raises profound ethical, policy, and personal issues which must be faced directly. John Broome, one of the outstanding moral philosophers of our times, presents the issues and his conclusions in a most thoughtful, accessible, practical, and compelling way. A vitally important contribution.”
Martin Weitzman
“For me (and for many others, I suspect) it is important to see this ethical side of climate change examined carefully by a skilled philosopher.”
James Garvey - the Times Literary Supplement
“John Broome is uniquely qualified to help us think through some of the more important questions. His new book is sometimes controversial and surprising, but always insightful and clear.”
Publishers Weekly
The latest from the Amnesty International Global Ethics series examines climate change from a philosophical perspective and explains the moral duties required to combat the problem. Drawing on the numerous scientific studies demonstrating that “the Arctic is melting,” Oxford philosopher Broome (Counting the Cost of Global Warming) begins with the effects this melting has on the local human population (for example, the Inuit people of Greenland and northern Canada), such as the sudden unpredictability of animal life and difficulty constructing shelter. Broome contends that at the bare minimum, the rest of the world has an obligation to reduce climate change to assist these innocent victims, if not to prevent potential future catastrophes elsewhere. On an individual level, people should, in the interests of justice, stop emitting greenhouse gases, which clearly cause harm to others, according to Broome. It is the responsibility of governments, whose aim should be to promote goodness in various ways, to reduce emissions and thus decrease the damage caused by climate change. While predictions of the future climate range “from the relatively benign to the catastrophically harsh,” experts agree that the risk of disaster is a real possibility. As a result, Broome argues, people must pressure their governments to work together to significantly reduce emissions now. Though this is a well-reasoned consideration of the issue’s ethical implications and obligations, it’s unlikely to sway nonbelievers. (July)
Kirkus Reviews
As mounting evidence shows that global warming is real and escalating, Broome (Moral Philosophy/Oxford Univ.; Weighing Lives, 2004, etc.) addresses the moral issues of this worldwide problem. The author believes individuals and countries have an ethical obligation to reduce, eliminate or offset the carbon footprints they create on a daily basis. "[I]n the domain of climate change," he writes, "private morality and government morality are regulated by different principles," with government focus being on making the world better. However, an individual focus is "determined by the duty of justice not to harm, rather than by the aim of improving the world." By providing readers with an overview of the science and economic questions behind global warming, Broome lays a solid foundation for the remaining arguments in the book. He demonstrates that any emissions are harmful and best avoided. But as that is almost impossible to achieve, the next step is to offset any emissions, thereby ostensibly adding nothing to the problem. Moving past the individual, Broome addresses the need for governments to place a value on everything directly and indirectly affected by global warming. The author takes into consideration the uncertainty of climate change, the potential future damage from actions taken today, and a growing worldwide population. He points out the possible harm from issues such as rising sea levels, droughts and crop damage and analyzes how to place a value on the potential millions of lives lost as global warming increases. Broome's overall message appeals to the moral goodness of humanity. Global warming is real and must be stopped before the lives of those living today and of future generations are made permanently worse. A moral and just viewpoint on an ever-expanding global issue.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393937961
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/10/2013
  • Series: Norton Global Ethics Series
  • Edition description: College Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 642,709
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

John Broome is the White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at the University of Oxford. He is also the lead author on Working Group III of the UN's International Panel on Climate Change.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Science 16

Chapter 3 Economics 37

Chapter 4 Justice and Fairness 49

Chapter 5 Private Morality 73

Chapter 6 Goodness 97

Chapter 7 Uncertainty 117

Chapter 8 The Future versus the Present 133

Chapter 9 Lives 156

Chapter 10 Population 169

Chapter 11 Summary 187

Notes 193

Acknowledgments 199

Index 201

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