Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change
Human Virtues of the Future
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: The MIT Press
Title Page, Copyright
This book began with a conference, “Human Flourishing and Restoration in the Age of Global Warming,” held in September 2008 at Clemson University and sponsored by the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities, the Restoration Institute, the Science and Technology in Society program, the...
Introduction: Adapting Humanity
When we take all of our core values seriously, they can make tough demands on us. This is the case regarding climate change, where our values ought to commit us to a robust understanding of adapting ourselves to a new global climate. As many have argued, climate change is not just a scientific...
I. Adapting Restoration to Climate Change
1. Nature Restoration as a Paradigm for the Human Relationship with Nature
Throughout most of the twentieth century, preservation was the reigning nature-protection paradigm. On this view, protecting nature involves setting aside nature preserves and keeping them “untrammeled by man” (U.S. Congress 1964). For preservationists, nature’s key value is its “naturalness” or...
2. Environmental Virtues and the Aims of Restoration
The practice of ecological restoration provides an important arena within which we can work out what it means to have a moral relationship with nature today (see Throop 2000; Hettinger, chapter 1, this volume). The practice involves responding to damage for which we are responsible; it involves morally...
3. Global Warming and Virtues of Ecological Restoration
In this chapter, I explore the implications of global warming for virtues associated with ecological restoration and assisted recovery. In doing so, I begin from the premise that global warming is now part of the ecological present and future of the planet. Returning to climactic trajectories that would have...
4. History, Novelty, and Virtue in Ecological Restoration
The science and practice of ecological restoration have thrived for several decades on the idea that historical knowledge anchors our judgments and practice. The approach has shifted from the idea of fixed reference points to more recent process-oriented configurations. All of this is poised to change...
II. Integrating Ecology into the Virtue of Justice
5. The Death of Restoration?
The science and practice of restoration ecology has traditionally been tied to some understanding of environmental history. As opposed to other kinds of environmental management, the justification primarily used for an ecological restoration is to return an ecosystem, a place, or even a species to some...
6. Animal Flourishing and Capabilities in an Era of Global Change
In part I of this book a core assumption of ecological restoration is seriously being challenged: are historical baselines or benchmarks still of any use for setting goals in ecological restoration in an era where human impact on the environment is omnipresent to such an extent that Nobel Prize winner...
7. Environment as Meta-capability: Why a Dignified Human Life Requires a Stable Climate System
What are the prospects for human flourishing on a planet facing dramatic ecological changes brought on by a warming global climate? Scientific research warns of a future in which significant portions of the human population will face more drought, flooding, famine, and disease. These problems are...
8. Justice, Ecological Integrity, and Climate Change
The “restoration” of humanity — or, more directly, humanity’s adaptation to a coming world of climate change — will come only with recognition of the human place within the rest of the natural world. In line with the themes of this volume, one key element of our adaptation to a changing climate will be a...
III. Adjusting Character to a Changing Environment
9. Ethics, Public Policy, and Global Warming
There has been speculation about the possibility of anthropogenic global warming since at least the late nineteenth century (Arrhenius 1896, 1908). At times the prospect of such a warming has been welcomed, for it has been thought that it would increase agricultural productivity and delay the onset of...
10. The Virtue of Responsibility for the Global Climate
Claims about moral responsibility for climate change are difficult to establish. One problem is that relevant harms and causes are diffuse, another is that actions of individual persons or nations can neither bring about nor prevent the phenomena (Jamieson 1992; revised as chapter 9, this volume). There...
11. Rethinking Greed
Greed is often thought to be a particularly common and troubling vice in contemporary, market-driven societies. The negative effects of greed seem wide-ranging and severe: environmental harms afflicting current generations of humans (and nonhumans), exploitation of workers across the world, weakened...
12. Are We the Scum of the Earth? Climate Change, Geoengineering, and Humanity’s Challenge
According to many august scientific reports and bodies, humanity is currently causing environmental change at an unprecedented rate and on a global scale. Moreover, the magnitude of this change is profound. Human activities, we are told, are already ecologically unsustainable; but if current trends...
IV. Reorganizing Institutions to Enable Human Virtue
13. The Sixth Mass Extinction Is Caused by Us
As you leave the platform for the subway in London’s Tube, you see a sign at your feet: Mind the Gap. In all the societies in which I’ve lived, there is a gap between character and consequence, though we are not minding it. The gap comes to the fore, to me, with the sixth mass extinction, although...
14. Human Values and Institutional Responses to Climate Change
When addressing problems of the scale of those associated with climate change, it may seem that we need to design institutions to help us handle those problems. We need to develop political bodies and social regimes capable of handling what it might seem individual, uncoordinated persons are...
15. Alienation and the Commons
What does it mean to be alienated from nature? The claim that we suffer today from such alienation is familiar in environmental discourse, but it isn’t always clear what that means. Both “nature” and “alienation” are famously difficult terms, first of all, but second (as I’ll argue), under certain standard understandings...
16. Thinking like a Planet
Throughout this book, the authors of each chapter have grappled with the question of what constitutes virtue in the context of climatic change and its attendant impacts on ecological and human systems. A central theme has been that our notion of virtue needs to adapt. Thompson and Bendik-Keymer articulate...
About the Contributors
Page Count: 360
Publication Year: 2012