Ethics and environmental policy

David J. Rutherford, Eric Thomas Weber

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter offers a survey of important factors for the consideration of the moral obligations involved in confronting the challenges of climate change. The first step is to identify as carefully as possible what is known about climate change science, predictions, concerns, models, and both mitigation and adaptation efforts. While the present volume is focused primarily on the mitigation side of reactions to climate change, these mitigation efforts ought to be planned in part with reference to what options and actions are available, likely, and desirable for adaptation. O Section "Understanding Climate Change," therefore, provides an overview of current understanding of climate change with careful definitions of terminology and concepts along with presentation of the increasingly strong evidence that validates growing concern about climate change and its probable consequences. O Section "Uncertainties and Moral Obligations Despite Them" addresses the kinds of uncertainty at issue when it comes to climate science. The fact that there are uncertainties involved in the understanding of climate change will be shown to be consistent with there being moral obligations to address climate change, obligations that include expanding the knowledge of the subject, developing plans for a variety of possible adaptation needs, and studying further the various options for mitigation and their myriad costs. O Section "Traditions and New Developments in Environmental Ethics" covers a number of moral considerations for climate change mitigation, opening with an examination of the traditional approaches to environmental ethics, then presenting three pressing areas of concern for mitigation efforts: Differential levels of responsibility for action that effects the whole globe; the dangers of causing greater harm than is resolved; and the motivating force of diminishing and increasingly expensive fossil fuels that will necessitate and likely speed up innovation in energy production and consumption that will be required for human beings to survive once fossil fuels are exhausted.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Climate Change Mitigation
Number of pages39
ISBN (Electronic)9781441979919
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2012. Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Energy


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