Tim Hayward publishes an article on "Climate Change and Ethics"
Professor of Environmental Policy Theory uses ethics to bring clarity and order to some thorny questions.
Tim Hayward, Professor of Environmental Political Theory, has published an article in Nature: Climate Change. The journal is dedicated to publishing the most significant and cutting-edge research on the impacts of global climate change and its implications for the economy, policy and the world at large.
Tim's article poses the bold question "What does it matter if the climate changes?".
The article makes the case for the question being, at root, about how we think we should live. With numerous competing answers to that question it is the task of political theorists to bring ethics to bear on the issue, bringing clarity and order to these competing ideas.
Tim argues that ideal theory and the visions such theory generates help give orientation to more pragmatic theories geared more explicitly at policy-making. In all of the discussion surrounding, for example, geo-engineering and carbon trading, it is important to keep alive an active questioning of the ethical assumptions underlying such developments. The same applies in the security realm as the effects of climate change become more serious and the circumstances of justice break down. In such situations we must confront hard questions such as, should there be a distinct category of rights for 'environmental refugees' or for other endangered communities? More generally the question of whether protection against climate change ought to be considered a human right looms.
Tim's article calls for the academic community to renew their efforts to grapple with the problems of human population growth and the development trajectory we are on. The well-off, Tim argues, must learn to live well but with less pressure on the ecological services that support our climate while ensuring that the poorer are not precluded from decent life chances.
Tim Hayward is Professor of Environmental Political Theory and Director of the Just World Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Some of his recent publications on the theme of this article include:
- "International Political Theory and the Global Environment: Some Critical Questions for Liberal Cosmopolitans", Journal of Social Philosophy 40.2 (2009).
- "Human Rights Versus Emissions Rights: Climate Justice and the Equitable Distribution of Ecological Space", Ethics and International Affairs 21.4 (2007).
- "Ecological Citizenship: Justice, Rights and the Virtue of Resourcefulness", Environmental Politics 15.3 (2006).