Dale Jamieson, Climate Change (=CC), Responsibility, and Justice


1.      OVERVIEW

         a.      Anthropogenic CC does involve prudential, moral and political responsibilities, but understanding how involves revising our ideas about moral and political responsibility

         b.      Duty of respect for nature is also violated by CC and w/o recognition of this duty, there is little hope of successfully addressing problem of CC

         c.      Implications for convergence thesis?

                   i.       Nonanthropocentric moral concerns necessary to address CC



3.      Insurance analogy

         a.      Just like it is foolish not to buy insurance, it is foolish not to do something about CC

                   i.       “Just as we buy fire insurance for our house and health insurance for our bodies, so need to buy planetary sustainability insurance”

         b.      Problems with insurance analogy

                   i.       No precise statistic available

                   ii.      Insurance is usually bought for yourself or those you love/feel responsible for

                            (1)    Rich people don’t need insurance for CC and they do not love or feel responsible for the poor (especially in other nations and future times)

4.      Economic pricing of carbon policies (carbon tax)

         a.      Nordhaus $17 per ton now, $311 in 2100

                   i.       Pure time preference (discount rate) 3%

         b.      Stern$311 now

                   i.       No pure time preference

         c.      Is pure time preference an empirical issue (time preferences people in fact have) or a moral issue (attitude we should have toward future people)

5.      Problems with prudential economic approaches

         a.      Humans not a single agent, and CC will have different affects on different people

         b.      CC affects such a diverse set of values (biodiversity, social solidarity, economic values income/assets) can’t be put on a common scale and given monetary value

         c.      We have no way to make reliable damage assessment of effects of CC at end of century



7.      Some claim CC matter of individual moral responsibility

8.      CC at core is rich people appropriating more than their share of a global public good and in addition, harming poor people by casually contributing to extreme climate events

         a.      Much of this behavior is unnecessary, even for maintaining profligate lifestyles of global rich

9.      Plausible, but different from familiar paradigm cases of individual moral responsibility which involves:

         a.      Individual acts intentionally

         b.      Harms another person

         c.      Both individuals and harm are identifiable

         d.      Individuals and harm closely related in time and space


10.    Six cases

                   i.       Jack intentionally steals Jill’s bike

                   ii.      Jack is part of unacquainted group of stranger each independently takes one part of Jill’s bike, so bike disappears

                   iii.     Jack takes one part from each of a large number of bikes, one of which belongs to Jill

                   iv.     Jack/Jill live on different continents and loss of Jill’s bike is the consequence that begins with Jack ordering a used bike

                   v.      Jack lives many centuries before Jill and consumes material essential to bike manufacturing; as a result it will not be possible for Jill to have a bike         

                   vi.     Vary all dimensions at once: Acting independently, Jack and large number of unacquainted people set in motion chain of events that causes large number of future people who will live in another part of world to not be able to have a bike

11.    Moral problem in last case?

         a.      Some people acted in a way that harms other people

         b.      But difficult to identity agents and victims and causal sequence between them

         c.      So concepts of moral responsibility and blame difficult to “gain traction”

12.    Climate change structurally like last case (vi.)

         a.      A diffuse group of people now set in motion forces that will harm a diffuse group of future people

         b.      If anything harm caused by CC much greater than loss of opportunity to have a bike

         c.      Helps explain why many people do not see climate change as a moral problem

         d.      Does not follow paradigm case of clearly identifiable individual acting intentionally so as to inflict an identifiable harm on another identifiable individual, closely related in space/time


13.    The assumption in moral philosophy is that harm is central to what makes an act of moral concern

         a.      But social moral psychology has shown that other factors are also relevant for people’s belief about what is of moral concern

14.    Often people will deny that harm-causing activity is within the moral domain while at the same time considering behavior that does not cause harm to be of moral import

15.    Since CC doesn’t cause disgust, make us feel angry or disgraced or make us entertain thoughts we find indecent, impious or repulsive, we tend not to worry about it or do anything about it

         a.      If CC were caused by gay sex or eating kittens, millions of protestors would be in the street.

16.    Conclusion: If we view CC as a problem of individual moral responsibility we will have to revise our everyday understanding of moral responsibility to some extent.


17.    44% of American voters say CC is primarily caused by long-tem planetary trends rather than human activity

         a.      Might argue that these folks are culpable in their ignorance of relation between human action and CC

         b.      But when prominent public figures are climate change deniers and science education is so inadequate, its hard to make this case



19.    Ugandan President Museveni:

         a.      CC is “an act of aggression by rich against the poor”

20.    Most of emitting done by rich countries of North, most of CC related dying is done in the poor countries of South

21.    Example: a 1 meter sea level rise by end of century, will flood 1/3 of Bangladesh coastline, leading to 20 million env refugees

         a.      To adapt (building embankments cyclone shelters and roads and other infrastructure) cost 4 Billion. Yet its national budget is 10B

         b.      Its carbon emissions per capita is 1/20th global average


22.    CC is largely caused by rich people wherever they live and suffered by poor whenever they live

23.    We can attribute primary responsibility to CC to the 500 million people who emit ½ world’s carbon

         a.      But not all live in rich countries of North

24.    If use automobile ownership as rough proxy for these 500 million (by 2002 numbers)

         a.      800 million cars total

         b.      230 US, 76 Japan, 50 Germany

         c.      20 in China 17 India

         d.      18 Canada, 12 Australia

25.    More people who are principal cause of CC live in China than in Canada, Australia and New Zealand (or European countries like Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, and Netherlands)


26.    Also poor people will suffer most from CC where-ever they live

27.    Social factors caused Hurricane Katrina to be so devastating in New Orleans (high inequality, large groups living in poverty, poor public services)–will lead to similar problems in future

28.    Reason to believe that poor in U.S. will suffer more from CC than similarly situated people in a country such as Cuba, which has less inequality and more effective public sector responses to weather disasters


29.    Conclusions

30.    CC does pose questions of global justice

31.    But it strays from paradigm of global justice

32.    CC not like one country invading another

33.    Nation state is relevant to addressing CC because it is casually efficacious

34.    But nation state not primary bearer or beneficiary of ethical responsibilities in this regard

35.    Must revise our concepts of ethical (moral and political) responsibility for CC to fall under them.



37.    Respect for nature is a value that climate change puts at risk

38.    Embracing this value (duty to respect nature) should motivate people to acknowledge a responsibility to respond to CC

39.    Vitousek argument that we live on a human dominated planet

         a.      1/3 to ½ earth’s land surface been transformed by human action

         b.      More nitrogen fixed by humanity that all other terrestrial organisms combined

         c.      Over ½ all accessible surface fresh water been appropriated by humans

         d.      1/4 world’s bird species driven to extinction

         e.      1997 figures–greater today

40.    Human domination of nature violates the duty to respect it

41.    Jamieson rejects idea only other people can be dominated

42.    Env ethics tradition that thinks of nature as autonomous

43.    Humans dominate nature by undermining nature’s autonomy (wildness) through arbitrary interference

44.    Nature’s autonomy

         a.      Involves being self-caused

         b.      If nature distinct from humanity, facts show that humans dominate nature (it is no longer self-caused in important ways)

         c.      Rather than being governed by its own laws and internal relations, nature is increasingly affected by human action

45.    All organisms influenced their environments, including humans

46.    What makes human influence domination is the degree and extremity of it

         a.      At some point causal influenced is so through-going that it can be said to constitute domination


47.    Anthropocentric CC violates duty to respect nature as it is a central expression of human domination of nature


48.    Human domination not only expressed in what we do, but in our attitude toward nature (how we think and feel about it)

49.    As a civilization we treat the Earth and is fundamental systems as if they were toys that we can treat carelessly

         a.      As if their functions could easily be replaced by a minor exercise of human ingenuity

50.    Our collective behavior towards nature is paradigm of disrespect


51.    3 possible grounds for why think have such a duty

52.    1: Prudential: we do better by our own lights when we respect nature

         a.      “Everything is connected to everything else”

         b.      “Nature knows best”

         c.      Emitting greenhouse gases is like poking a dragon with sharp stick

         d.      Nature’s services yearly value to human economy are between $16 and $54 trillion

         e.      Are there duties to others founded on prudence?


53.    2: Respect nature as it provides background condition for our lives having meaning

         a.      Not plausible to think it is a necessary or sufficient condition for all lives having meaning, it is an important condition in many cultures at many times.

                   i.       Role landscapes play in cultures of indigenous peoples

                   ii.      How flatirons define Boulder, CO

         b.      Like in representational painting where what is in the foreground gains its meaning from its contrast with the background

                   i.       Nature provides background against which we live our lives and thus provides us with important source of meaning

                   ii.      When we fail to respect nature we lose an important source of meaning in our lives


54.    3: Respect nature from a concern for psychological integrity/wholeness

         a.      Respecting the other is central to knowing who we are and to respecting ourselves

         b.      Failure to respect other is a form of narcissism (inordinate fascination with oneself)

         c.      Nature as other, beyond our control, as root of self-identity and communal life


55.    Respect for nature is a plausible duty and it need not be based on morally extravagant views such as biocentrist and ecocentrism

         a.      Does this result in the duties being self-directed?


56.    Unless a duty of respect for nature is widely recognized and acknowledged, there will be little hope of successfully addressing problem of CC

Questions on Jamieson’s Climate Change, Responsibility and Justice

1.      Jamieson distinguishes paradigm cases of moral responsibility and contrasts them with moral responsibility for climate change using an bike stealing analogy. Using this analogy explain how CC does not fit the paradigm case of moral responsibility.

2.      What point is Jamieson making when he says (paraphrasing) “if CC were caused by gay sex or eating kittens, millions of protestors would be in the street.”

3.      According to Jamieson what is wrong with the idea that since the rich are responsibly for climate change and the poor will disproportionately suffer, full political responsibility for addressing CC must be placed on the rich developed countries?

4.      Explain How Jamieson thinks our duty to respect nature is violated by CC (use the concepts of domination and autonomy in your explanation). Now explain the connection he makes between violating our duty to respect nature and the vice of narcissism and worries about psychological integrity.

5.      Does Jamieson think respect for nature is important to addressing CC? Why or why not? Given this, what follows concerning Jamieson’s view about the convergence thesis.