Is Ignoring Climate Change Akin to Mass Murder? Troubling Ethical Conclusions about Climate Change and its Effects

Posted by Sandra Borden for Study of Ethics in Society

Jonathan Milgrim, faculty specialist in the WMU Department of Philosophy, argues that climate change and the harms related to climate change are both global in nature and anthropogenic. Even if radical reductions of greenhouse gasses are implemented and there is massive funding of mitigation efforts, the harms from climate change will only get worse in the coming decades.

One issue this raises is how we attribute these harms related to climate change. From one perspective, climate change is global, overdetermined and multigenerational, so it seems problematic to assign blame to individuals. However, this creates the undesirable situation in which incredible harms can occur, but if enough people are involved, then no one is considered blameworthy. The only viable conclusion is that climate change has exposed a weakness in our current ethical frameworks; they are either broken or incomplete.

Part of the WMU Climate Change Working Group’s events for Climate Emergency Month: Creating a Just and Sustainable Future.

Co-sponsors: Climate Change Working Group and Department of Philosophy.

Date: Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Time: 6:00pm to 7:30pm
Location: 208 Bernhard Center
Kalamazoo MI 49008 US
Contact: Sandra L. Borden
Email for more information