Showing posts with label intergenerational justice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label intergenerational justice. Show all posts

Saturday, 2 July 2022

We Should Fix Climate Change, But We Should Not Regret It

Climate change is a huge and urgent problem. It is natural to suppose that it is therefore a terrible mistake, an unforced error that we should regret and try to prevent ever happening again.

I disagree. Climate change is the unfortunate outcome of the economic growth that has transformed human civilisation for the better. We cannot regret climate change without regretting the vastly better world for most people that the fossil-fuel powered technological revolutions of the last 250 years have achieved. Nor should we draw the anti-technology lesson that solutions are always worse than the original problems, that humans should retreat to living within the bounds of nature rather than attempting to escape them.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Don't Pity the People of the Future

Climate change is such a terrifying large problem that it is hard to think sensibly about. On the one hand this makes many people prefer denial. On the other hand it can exert a warping effect on the reasoning of even those who do take it seriously. In particular, many confuse the power we have over what the lives of future generations will be like - and the moral responsibility that follows from that - with the idea that we are better off than them. These people seem to have taken the idea of the world as finite and combined it with the idea that this generation is behaving selfishly to produce a picture of us as gluttons whose overconsumption will reduce future generations to penury. But this completely misrepresents the challenge of climate change.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

A Team Approach to Intergenerational Justice

We have difficulty living up to our obligations to future generations. To be precise, our problem is not not that we don’t care about what happens to the world after we're gone. It is that we can’t explain why we should care, and therefore cannot systematically think through and institutionalise the responsibilities implied. That might not matter so much - it hasn't mattered too much before in human history - except that we face at least one big intergenerational problem that just can't be muddled through: Climate Change.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Four Ideas of Sustainability

Sustainability concerns the relationship between humans and their natural environment over time. But there are various ethical understandings of that relationship with quite different implications. Two popular accounts actually repudiate human interdependence with nature by either making human interests completely subservient to a sacred nature, or by making nature completely subservient to human interests. Gro Brundtland's famous definition points in the right direction by focussing on the goal of meeting humanitarian needs in the present and the future, but her picture of human interests is too narrow and technocratic. What we need is a definition that is humanistic without necessarily being human-centred.