Sunday, January 29, 2012

climate scholarship

As mentioned in the Jan 15 blistered orb post, the research annual Osiris published an issue with the title klima.  This journal deals with the history of science, and its most recent 2011 issue, volume 27, concerns scholarly aspects of the investigation of climate.  The front flap of Osiris says that the volumes in this series 'are designed to dissolve boundaries between history and the history of science' and that they 'cast science in the framework of larger issues prominent in the historical discipline but infrequently treated in the history of science, such as the development of civil society, urbanization, and the evolution of international affairs.'  In the introduction, the issue editors write, 'we have named this volume klima.  This terse but dynamic moniker fits the tone of the contributions, which revive a multivocal and inclusive understanding of a venerable but elusive term.  We seek to decouple klima from its current exclusive association with atmospheric sciences and revisit the implications of an ancient vocabulary for medical, geographical, agricultural, economic, racial, and other 'endemic' concerns.  If climate is not just about the weather, what is it? What does it seek to explain? When is climate invoked? By whom? For what purposes? How are other 'key words' linked with it, such as culture, society, civilization, time and change? In what ways is climate a proxy for other concerns such as regulation, industry, and identity?  When is it not an explanation at all?  Where is climate incarnated?  And how does it matter?'

introduction: revisiting klima
James R Fleming & Vladimir Jankovic
27 (2011): 1-15

(section: natural laboratories)

Humboldtian science, Creole meteorology, and the discovery of human-caused climate change in South America
Gregory T Cushman
27 (2011): 19-44

imperial climatographies from Tyrol to Turkestan
Deborah R Coen
27 (2011): 45-65

the anxieties of a science diplomat: field coproduction of climate knowledge and the rise of fall of Hans Ahlmann's 'Polar Warming'
Sverker Soerlin
27 (2011): 66-88

diagnosing the dry: historical case notes from Southwest Western Australia, 1945-2007
Ruth A Morgan
7 (2011): 89-108

(section: social contexts)

the letter from Dublin: climate change, colonialism, and the Royal Society in the seventeenth century
Brant Vogel
7 (2011): 111-128

inventing Caribbean climates: how science, medicine, and tourism changed tropical weather from deadly to healthy
Mark Carey
7 (2011): 129-141

reculturing and particularizing climate discourses: weather, identity, and the work of Gordon Manley
Georgina Endfield
7 (2011): 142-162

(section: international to global)

concentrating on the CO2: the Scandinavian and Arctic measurements
Maria Bohn
7 (2011): 165-179

melting empires? climate change and politics in Antarctica since the International Geophysical Year
Adrian Howkins
7 (2011): 180-197

the politics of atmospheric sciences: 'nuclear winter' and global climate change
Matthias Doerris
7 (2011): 198-223

optimal climate change: economics and climate science policy histories (from heuristic to normative)
Samuel Randalls
7 (2011): 224-242

(section: climate redux)

reducing the future to climate: a story of climate determinism and reductionism
Mike Hulme
7 (2011): 245-266


Sunday, January 15, 2012

climate philosophy

These are the articles that appeared in Journal of Global Ethics 7 (2011), special issue "Climate Ethics." An expanded edition, as a book, is in the works, with essays on African wisdom and Arctic perspectives.  I have no legit hyperlinks (sorry).  The intro is excerpted below.  An oddity about this issue is that 'climate ethics' seemed alright as a title when I put the collection together, but it strikes me now as a misnomer.  If climate ethics is what critics say--a technical application of analytic approaches meaningful in an Anglo-American domain--then what we are doing is not climate ethics!
Call it 'climate philosophy'.

Plan B: global ethics on climate change
Martin Sch├Ânfeld
7 (2011): 129-136

climate, imagination, Kant, and situational awareness
Michael Thompson
7 (2011): 137-148

moral progress and Canada's climate failure
Byron Williston
7 (2011): 149-160

climate change and philosophy in Latin America
Ernesto O. Hernandez
7 (2011): 161-172

Watsuji Tetsuro, Fudo, and climate change
Bruce B. Janz
7 (2011): 173-184

climate change and the ecological intelligence of Confucius
Shih-yu Kuo
7 (2011): 185-194

a Daoist response to climate change
Chen Xia, Martin Sch├Ânfeld
7 (2011): 195-204

justice, negative GHIs, and the consumption of farmed animal products
Jan Deckers
7 (2011): 205-216

Excerpt from my introduction (pp. 129-136)

"(p. 129) If we are not careful, climate change may trigger the greatest catastrophe in the history of civilization. Climate change is not a future danger anymore. The processes are well underway, and a destabilization of the Earth system has begun. This lends vital urgency to the question that is at the heart of ethics: what should we do? Philosophy is the rational investigation of existence in the world, but the world is different now from the one our ancestors inhabited. The difference concerns not so much the obvious phenomena one associates with modernity, such as urbanization, industry, and technology, because all of them, in various ways, have shaped the world already for centuries. The real and radical difference, between our generation and all the ones in the past, is the collective arrival at the limit of existing in the world. The world is our oikos or house; we have filled this ecological house over time, and now the house is full. Reaching such limits is an experience bygone cultures knew as well, but only in localized form. This is the first time in all of history that global civilization without exception – the sum-total of humankind – arrives at this juncture.
"... (p. 133) The new reality of climate change informs virtually all phenomena on the list of environmental problems, plus spawning entire new orders of hitherto unknown troubles of its own. From the traditional vantage point of environmental ethics, it also affects whoever has moral standing in some form, whether these are people, future generations, apes, animals, plants, biotic systems, or Aldo Leopold’s integrity of the land. Climate change, through its diverse facets, manifold risks, and multiple dimensions, is an integrative reality. It puts all the traditional problems in a new place. It arises as the salient context for all of them. Thus, it is not an entry on the list; it is the new paper the old items are written on. To put it baldly, it is the list. Because being-in-the-world has arrived at the fork, everything is now different. As an academic aside, it is perhaps worth noting that environmental ethics is now obsolete. The sum-total of its subject-matter currently integrates in the existential context of climate change. Thus, climate ethics is its rightful heir. From a philosophical look at the fork, all empirical trends point to the same conceptual conclusion: taking the right path – the path of sustainability, mitigation, and resilience – requires civilization to put as much distance as possible between itself and the paradigm whose implementation unleashed the climate crisis. The question of where we stand at the fork is also a question about location relative to the paradigm.
"... (p. 134) This topic issue of Journal of Global Ethics is based on the assumption that conventional modes of thought are bankrupt. It is difficult to believe that the normative perspectives and conceptual tools that contributed to the climate crisis in the first place, such as discounting against the future, cost-benefit analysis, and other utilitarian market devices, will be capable of providing us with a solution. Put differently, I doubt that ‘Plan A’ is going to work. A continued deliberation of market tools and utilitarian devices may not lead very far. What is worse, it appears that the prevailing mentalities of philosophical convention are not going to be of great use either. Philosophy, in the past century, split into postmodern thought and analytic philosophy. These two camps, despite their obvious differences, share the common ground of skepticism. Skepticism is inappropriate and irresponsible in the face of absolute limits. Postmodernity emphasizes culture over nature, (p. 135) deconstruction over structure, and interpretation over lawfulness. Such emphasis, it appears, makes things worse, as postmodern approaches are easily appropriated by climate deniers for corporate gain. Analyticity stresses the breakdown of information, the isolation of data, and the separation of events from context. This appears wrong-headed and obsolete, because climate change asks philosophers to do the precise opposite: the reconciliation of information, the  understanding of data, and the integration of events in context.
Analysis is not needed now; synthesis is."


Sunday, January 1, 2012

climate ethics

These are the articles that appeared in The Monist 94 (2011), special issue "Morality and Climate Change," edited by Simon Caney (Oxford) and Derek Bell (Newcastle), pp. 305-452.  The links are to pdfs at the USF library; apologies if they may be iffy off-campus. The intro is excerpted below.

morality and climate change
Simon Caney, Derek Bell
94 (2011): 305-309

climate change refugees, compensation, and rectification
Avner de Shalit
94 (2011): 310-328

can the maximin principle serve as a basis for climate change policy?
Greg Bognar
94 (2011): 329-348

climate change and individual responsibility
Avram Hiller
94 (2011): 349-368

nonrenewable resources and the inevitability of outcomes
Benjamin Hale
94 (2011): 369-390

global climate justice, historic emissions, and excusable ignorance
Derek Bell
94 (2011): 391-411

climatic justice and the fair distribution of atmospheric burdens: a conjunctive account
Edward Page
94 (2011): 412-432

a right to sustainable development
Darrel Moellendorf
94 (2011): 433-452

Excerpt from Caney's introduction (p 305-309):

"Climate change poses many ethical issues.  One important normative question concerns how we evaluate the impacts of climate change. Should we be concerned only with its impact on human beings? What about its effects on nonhuman animals and on the world itself? Do these have independent moral value? Furthermore, when we are considering its impacts on human beings there are a number of different ethical criteria one might appeal to. One might, for example, focus on its effects on utility or well-being considered more broadly, or its effects on the realization of human rights (Caney 2009), or on some other criterion. ... Any normative appraisal of how to respond to the prospect of climate change requires more than an account of what criteria should be employed to evaluate climatic impacts. Another highly important question arises from the fact that there is considerable uncertainty about the magnitude of the likely changes to the earth’s climate and their corresponding effects on people’s lives. ... This raises the question: how should humanity respond to the risks and uncertainties involved?...  (p.306) In addition to the two questions considered so far, a third important question (or rather set of questions) concerns the resulting moral responsibilities to act. One can distinguish between (at least) two questions here. First, what kinds of entities have moral responsibilities to act? It is commonly assumed that states have a responsibility to act but what about individuals? Or corporations? What role, if any, should international institutions (such as theWTO or IMF orWorld Bank or EU) play? A second question is: how should the burden of combating climate change be distributed? What distributive principle should be adopted? ... (p. 307) As noted above, any adequate account of the responsibilities to address climate change must address not simply what kinds of entities are the relevant duty bearers but also how duties should be distributed among duty bearers. ... As noted above, one principle invoked by Page and others is that those responsible for bringing about climate change should pay. One issue that arises here concerns what responsibilities we should ascribe in cases where people emitted greenhouse gases but were excusably ignorant of their role in bringing about dangerous climate change. ... (p. 308) The issue of how to distribute burdens connects to another fundamental issue—namely, what is the relationship between burden sharing and enabling the least developed countries to develop? ... (p. 309) These, then, are the questions explored by the papers in this issue. There are, of course, many other questions—including, for example, What principle of intergenerational equity should be applied? Is it appropriate, as many economists have argued, to adopt a positive social discount rate? How should the right to emit greenhouse gases be distributed? What moral issues, if any, are raised by the measures suggested to deal with climate change—measures such as emissions trading, geo-engineering, population control, and nuclear energy? There is increasing interest in climate ethics (Gardiner, Caney, Jamieson, and Shue 2010). Our hope is that the essays included here help stimulate further reflection on the moral challenges raised by climate change."