t Essay: Climate Change
How should the costs and benefits of greenhouse gas emissions and abatement
be distributed between developed and developing countries, and why? [Both
adaptation and abatement]
− “greenhouse mechanism is both well understood and uncontroversial” (557)
− “global warming” only highlights one aspect of the greater problem: climate
− existing species are unlikely to adapt quickly and easily
− “models indicate that stabilisation of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at
450, 650, or 1000 ppm would require global anthropogenic CO2 emissions
to drop below 1990 levels, within a few decades, about a century, or about
two-centuries, respectively, and continue to decrease steadily after” (562)
− prediction doesn't account for 'threshold effects' like the melting of the West
Antarctic Ice Sheet, or the disruption of the Ocean Conveyor
− there isn't scientific uncertainty, but rather, risk.
Doing Something vs Doing Nothing
1) Costs Argument
Argues that prevention is more expensive than adaptation (Bjorn Lomborg).
However, some models come to the different conclusion.
Furthermore, economic analyses fails to capture the full dimension of the problem;
costs are sustained now, while full benefits are extended to future generations.
Hence, a time-slice analysis doesn't do the issue justice.
2) Adaptation Argument
Note: we are already commit to some climate change, so adaptation is necessity.
Real question is whether adaptation can be our only strategy.
However, costs of two models are different. With abasement, costs are controlled
and predictable. With adaptation, costs are randomly (unequally) distributed, and
3) No Harm/Precautionary Principle
No Harm: “There is a real moral problem posed by subjecting future generations
to the risk of severe harms” (576) (Shue) Precautionary: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the
environment, precautionary measures should be taken” (577).
− predicted outcomes of climate change are severe and catastrophic
− probabilities of harm is high
− gains from 'doing nothing' are low