2019-03-15 10:40:00      点击:

Question: 2250 words

“Climate change is a particularly difficult problem to address, because it involves a conflict between generations.” Explain and discuss.

Intro 200

本文主要介绍了气候变化对地球的影响,气候变化是一个长期的积累,因为气候变化,对地球的经济 气候 温湿度 降水都有一定的影响。气候的变化和海洋和陆地的影响更为巨大,温室效应并不是一件坏事,因为它维持着地球上生物的生长,但是温室效应也导致了,气温的逐渐升高,就会对气球产生比较大的负面的影响,本文就对这些因素进行了分析,对温室效应的过程也进行了阐述。


Climate change means that the weather patterns on the earth and the average temperatures have experienced a large-scale and long-term change. It brings about great influences on the temperature patterns, seasons, humidity and precipitation. Actually, it is a very complex and complicated problem involving a great deal of disciplines, including physics, economics, life sciences, political science and psychology. The Global climate is experiencing rapid changes, which will result in some serious and disruptive influences, and that change is growing faster than any change that occurs in the past two thousand years, so that more and more countries attach great importance to solving the climate change problem. However, the problem is very hard to deal with because it forms an intense conflict between the development of the current generation and that of the later generations. It is not only an environment issue, but it is also a moral issue. Stephen Gardiner's “Perfect Moral Storm” is a piece work in the aspect of philosophy, which promotes people’s understanding about the moral dilemmas that people face when dealing with the problem of global climate change. In this essay, I would explain the difficult issue of climate change in global and discuss (based on Gardiner’s theory) why it involves a conflict between generations.


Body 300 Climate change

The global climate change is a sort of natural phenomenon and currently changing. Basically, part of climate change will be caused by ‘Natural variability’, which is a normal part of the Earth’s activities. It is closely linked with the interactions and activities among the atmosphere, ocean, and land, and is also related to the changes of the amount of the solar radiation the earth receives. However, on the other hand, the most important reason accounting for the occurrence of climate change is “human-induced change”. One of the `distinct features of climate change is the global warming (green house effect). Actually, greenhouse effect itself is not a bad thing, as it supports and sustains the growth of all the creatures on the earth. But during the industrial age, the use of fossil fuels causes a chain reaction. The burning of the fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gases has released large amounts of greenhouse gases---particularly the carbon dioxide, one of the most important elements of greenhouse gases, to accumulate rapidly on the atmosphere. The greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere than the natural circulation process could absorb them, and therefore they wreak havoc in the whole atmosphere system. The Industrial Revolution has made the fossil fuel combustion increase drastically due to the use of coal-burning machines and the industrialized production. Besides, the invention of cars has also made the use of fossil fuels increase very quickly. Consequently, the industrial revolution, along with the fast-growing population, and the effects of massive deforestation brings about the combustion of large amounts of fossil fuels. And greenhouse gases have rapidly concentrated in the atmosphere, and the global climate change is progressing faster than any change that occurs in the past two thousand years. Just as Gardiner (2006) said, ‘Emissions of greenhouse gases from any geographical location on the Earth’s surface travel to the upper atmosphere and then play a role in affecting climate globally. It means that the atmosphere on the earth is excessively filled with heat-trapping gases, which results in a large-scale climate change with catastrophic and disastrous consequences. According to some relevant scientific researches, they show that the average temperature on the surface of the earth has increased by 0.89 °C from the year of 1901 to 2012. Meanwhile, a warming earth is also likely to influence the snow patterns and the precipitation, increase the extreme weather like severe storms, cause the melting glaciers, increase the sea level, and affect the plant’ and animal’s activities. For instance, since 1900, the sea level has risen by around 19cm, on average in the world, and has risen by 10cm in England. The increase of the seal level, to a large extent, is caused by the global warming.  Indeed, climate patterns play a fundamental role in shaping the human economies and cultures, which means climate change is mostly influenced by human behavior. Although a number of countries attach importance to environmental management, such as kyoto protocolthe consequence is still negative.

Seen from another perspective, climate change is one of the thorniest environmental issues, and Stephen Gardiner has written a large number of works about it mainly standing from an ethical angle. He argues that the climate change in not only an economic, political or technical challenge, but also, in fundamental, a moral challenge. In this argument, Gardiner (2006) proposes three main storms to explain climate change. First, thinking globally, people in the world emit the greenhouses gases in a particular place, and these gases accumulate in the atmosphere and bring about great influences on all people’s life and their living conditions all around the world. Besides, people usually live in a sovereign state system and only the state enjoys the rights and has the responsibilities to control the emission of the greenhouse gases, which makes it difficult to form a coordinated prevention and control system. Besides, it is hard for the states to produce moral or political considerations to think it necessary for addressing the climate change. For example, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, designed to reduce the emissions of the industrialized countries to below their levels made in 1990, has not been able to gain its goals. These kinds of failures, according to  Gardiner (2006), reflect a fragmentation of agency---it is rational for all the nations to cooperate with each other to collectively address the problem, while it is not rational for them to do individually. The “pure intergenerational problem” has been presented by Gardiner as a sort of greater difficulty. The current generation could be able to gain nothing by decreasing the emissions and every subsequent one has much more at stake than its predecessor does. From the theoretical viewpoint, it means that there exist no incentives for the current generation to cooperate to solve the problem even if its subsequent generations were ready to do, and that the same would be true if the current generation shifted the responsibility and failed to cooperate. And if the successive generations also behaved in this way, it would never be reasonable and rational to take some measures to deal with the problems of global warming.

Second, the perfect storm made by Gardiner is intergenerational. Generally speaking, the main point is that climate change is primarily generated by the fossil fuel combustion. The combustion of fossil fuels brings about two main consequences: first, it produces a large number of benefits by the production of energy; second, it makes the human beings exposed to the risks of some large and even disastrous costs from the climate changes. But actually, these costs and benefits are unevenly distributed to different groups of people: the benefits usually appear in the short and medium term and so the present generation receives the benefits; but the costs usually appear in the long term and therefore the future generations bear the costs incurred. This suggests a worrisome scenario. On the one hand, because the high-energy use is closely linked with the economic benefits and self-interest, the present generation will have strong egoistic reasons to leave aside the bad influences of climate change. On the other hand, this problem is iterated: each subsequent generation has to face the problem and it also has the powers to make its own decisions on whether to act or not. This means that the global warming problem has a serious and tragic structure that is the conflicts between generations. Greenhouse gases concentrate and stay in the atmosphere for ages and years and so the decisions about increasing emission of greenhouse gases are involved with the concern for the future generations. However, the future generations have no opportunities to participate in the contemporary affairs. And the politicians are willing to take some some costly measures to address the problems at present, only in the premise of having climate rewards in the near future. Gardiner(2006) argues the contempocentriciam is lost in a kind of moral dilemma, due to that the current generation often has asymmetrical power over the subsequent futures, and it means it will form a tragedy for the contemporary. The final issue is theoretical, and he thinks that people are not equipped with the intellectual tools to have an appropriate understanding about climate change. Most of the scholars have not clarified the compelling models of climate change that consist of the elements of moral sensitivity and compassion. In fact, moral corruption poses an important threat because it allows for self-deception by selectively paying our attention to components of climate change that help reduce our moral burden.  In practice, moral corruption appears with some inaction excuses that there are some scientific uncertainties hindering from dealing with the problem, and it also may bring about excessive political or economic costs. However, actually, it leaves aside the encouraging conditions such as the scientific consensus and ignores the costs of inaction that must be undertaken by the later generations. In theory, moral corruption emerges in the context that the individual has the rights to select whether to take actions or not and they often made decisions based on personal interests, but ignore the ethical commitments they must undertake for the benefits of the future generations. And actually, they must think beyond the contemporary preferences and assume moral responsibilities to take some effective measures and strategies in responding to the climate change. The moral corruption produces practical effects differently on the individual interests and collective interests. On the contrary, the theoretical implication of moral corruption suggests that the way we constitute the difference between individual interests and collective interests may render, in theory, a balance between the personal and political responsibilities, while leaving aside the questions of obligation to the future innocent generations. As a result, the challenges and complexities of the global, inter-generational, and theoretical tempests are combined together to create the perfect storm, which destroys the people’s moral action, as it makes people lose the ability to realize their own obligations, undermines people’s ethical morality, and damages people’s sense of agency.

Gardiner holds that the international should increase cooperation on addressing the climate change problem and should make real attempts to lay moral ground for human being’s further action. But he admits that at present, people are muddling through the issue of climate change without any advanced moral theoretical basis. By introducing the three typical “storms”, Gardiner explains the primary ethical challenge in dealing with the climate change problem, and also clarifies the reason accounting for the stagnation of current solutions to the problem, which lies in failing to recognize the ethics’ centrality to the climate challenge. Actually, it is extremely difficult to address the moral problems brought about by the climate change by making use of the traditional methods. Therefore, it seems to be very necessary to develop a series of ethical and moral theories for the human beings to deal with the global climate change problem. On the one hand, as for individuals, people must fully recognize the actions they take to manage the problem actually reflect their own morality and the relevant moral theories will make them very willing to do something for addressing the problem. On the other hand, as for countries and the whole international community, they must cooperate with each other to fight against their common enemy, climate change. And it is also of great importance and necessity to lay some global moral theories, to make the countries recognize the actions they take to deal with the problem actually reflect the country’s morality. In this way, both the individuals and countries have theoretical basis to take some actions for addressing the problem mainly out of morality, since it is an issue concerning both the individual and country.

To summarize, global warming is a sort of greenhouse effect caused by the heat-trapping gases such as Carbon dioxide (CO2) and water vapor released by the burning of different kinds of fuel fossils. The burning of fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas makes the CO2 constantly concentrate in the atmosphere, so as to cause the higher temperature. Global climate change will bring about a series of negative influences on people’s work and life. Climate change is not a problem having ready-made solutions. It is a kind of chronic challenge involving mitigation and adaptation with the intensification of different extreme weathers and global climate change. Gardiner (2006) introduces some key factors that prevent people from ethical behaviors regarding dealing with the climate change problem and stress that the factors combined by the spatial, intergenerational and theoretical dimension make human beings vulnerably exposed to moral corruption--- consequently, he points, climate change is a “perfect moral storm.” Therefore, climate change is a particularly difficult problem to address, because it is not only social issue in contemporary, rather it involves a conflict between generations.