GLOBAL WARMING: Ethical Issues related to Global Warming
What you need to know...
Useful Web Resources
- Why there is no single solution to global warming
- Why international agreements on the environment breakdown
Who should take more responsibility for solving global warming; developed countries like the UK or developing countries like Kenya?
- There is no doubt that developed countries create more greenhouse gasses than developing countries;
- The 12% of the world’s population that lives in North America and Western Europe accounts for 60% of private consumption spending, while the 33% of the world's population living in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa accounts for only 3.2 percent.
- Developed countries in Western Europe and North America are the major consumers of the world and therefore the major contributors towards global warming
"The United States, with less than 5% of the global population, uses about a quarter of the world’s fossil fuel resources—burning up nearly 25 % of the coal, 26 % of the oil, and 27% of the world’s natural gas" (WorldWatch, 2014)
- However developing countries also contribute to global warming in their own ways through deforestation, cattle farming and burning of fossil fuels for example
- The question is therefore, should the developed world take more responsibility for solving global warming compared to the developing world as they contribute more greenhouse gasses?
- Taking a short-term view, the answer would be yes; however as countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and South America develop they will contribute more and more to greenhouse gasses and global warming
- The conclusion is that we all (both developed and developing countries) need to take responsibility and steps to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions
- Another aspect of this issue is that the effects (R.E.P.F.I.L.L.) of global warming are often suffered most by developing countries, despite the causes being mostly attributed to developed countries
- Watch the video below which clearly explains some of the relevant issues
Economic growth/development Versus Sustainability
- There is often a trade-off (incompatibility) between achieveing economic growth (and development) and sustainability
- The evidence so far indicates that as the world population has grown and countries have developed it has come at the expense of the earth's resources, ultimately leading to global warming
- Countries and businesses often make decisions based on finances and their bottom lines (i.e. their costs, revenues and profits), rather than the negative effect their pursuit of development and profits has on the environment; one example of this is China (watch the video below)
The difficulties faced in getting countries to tackle global warming
- Global warming is by definition a global issue, requiring each and every country around the world to take personal responsibility for their part in the solution
- However international agreements over environmental solutions are difficult to come by, with countries having their own agenda and economic objectives; indeed there are a number of significant boundaries or obstacles which need to be overcome before any significant progress can be made on tackling global warming! (click here to find out whether governments are sticking to their environmental targets)
- The current mindset of the world's population can be a barrier to change and finding global warming solutions; one of the difficulties in tackling global warming is convincing countries and the population that it exists or that it's caused by human activity (e.g. farming, industry); some people believe that global warming is a natural phenomenon and will continue irrespective of what steps we take to reduce greenhouse gas emissions
- Another barrier to tackling climate change is financial; changing from fossil fuels to other energy sources will require massive spending. In the near-term this will be non-profitable investment, in an economy that cannot function without profit.
-The CO2 reductions to solve global warming must be taken by everyone and every country. Air and water don’t stop at borders. So long as capitalism (the pursuit of profit) remains the world’s dominant economic system, positive changes in individual countries will be undermined by countermoves in other countries seeking competitive advantage over them.
- "Only an economy that is organised for human needs, not profit, has any chance of slowing climate change and reversing the damage that’s already been done. Only democratic socialist planning can overcome the problems caused by capitalist anarchy." (Climate & Capitalism, 2014)
- Look at the video below; how could the prisoner's dilemma be related to the issue of climate change and global warming?
- Face to face meetings and discussions between countries to agree on tackling global warming may appear productive and even result in commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; however in reality, putting into practice these commitments can be difficult, especially when there are financial incentives for countries to renege on them (i.e. go back on their promise)!
- For example taxing the use of fossil fuels will increase the production costs for businesses in a country, who may pass on these costs to consumers in the form of higher prices; this puts businesses at an international competitive disadvantage compared to other firms in other countries where no such taxes have been levied (applied).
- In order to solve the issues we need to find a way of enforcing the agreements on tackling global warming
- The difficulties of enforcing international agreements on climate change and global warming are evident in the gameshow Golden Balls.....watch the video below....would you trust a stranger to split £100,000?