Sample Research Paper on The Morals of Climate Change

The Morals of Climate Change

Through the proliferation of technological and scientific discoveries, society has undergone a spiritual transition that has elicited the erosion of cultural barriers and an upsurge in global awareness. The central concord of the hominid populace is becoming increasingly ostensible. The onset of climate change, albeit disputed by many, is bound to become one of the driving forces for unity as people cognize the adverse effects of climate change for this generation and future ones. There is need for a massive global undertaking to enounce the ethical issues of the problem as well as all additional climate change.

The Science of Climate Change

Before articulating the ethical concerns surrounding the debacle, there is need to explore the genesis of the problem. Science has long predicted that the planet is vulnerable to global warming occasioned by the proliferating CO2 and other greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere.The issue emanates from the way life evolved, a set of complex, delicately balanced systems that are still poorly comprehended (Dahl, 2011). Carbon cycles through the biosphere with plants up taking carbon dioxide while decomposers and other animals oxidize organic compounds, in so doing returning carbon dioxide to the biosphere. Today, however, the long-standing balance between these processes has seen a significant upset by the extraction and combustion of fossils, returning carbon that had been long cut out of circulation into the oceans and atmosphere. For climate, the significance is that carbon dioxide alongside methane is some of the most significant greenhouse gasses, ensnaring heat in the biosphere.

With the inception of the industrial revolution, fossil fuel use has increased, and with it the concentration of carbon dioxide which has risen to 370 parts per million (ppm), up from 290. The figure is anticipated to escalate to about 550 ppm in mid-century. Statistics shows that every turn of fossil fuel combusted produces over 2.9 tons of CO2 (Dahl, 2011). The degradation of soil and deforestation have also contributed to the snowballing quantities of CO2in the sky. The UN-sanctioned global warming study organization, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has affirmed that there is a momentous human impact on the climate, with expectations of more (IPCC, 2001). Despite the retort by critics arguing the reality of the link between fossil fuel use and climate change, these rebuttals have failed to withstand close scientific scrutiny.

Anticipated Effects

Climate change will have an intense impression on human goings-on and the environment in plentiful fundamental ways. Firstly, there will be an upsurge in food insecurity as various expanses encounter water shortages with the alteration in rainfall arrays and the disappearance of mountain glaciers. The adverse impression on ocean fisheries will also contribute to the food shortage menace. Climate change will also occasion the displacement of people and consequently an upsurge in the flows of environmental refugees, the resultant social disintegration of which could lead to terrorism and anarchy. The rise in sea levels is also expected to contribute to this debacle. There is also an expected loss of biodiversity as species, and ecological systems will be adversely impacted (IPCC, 2001). The commonality and severity of societal, fiscal, and natural catastrophes are expected to intensify.

Climate change modeling has evinced that the most susceptible crowds are the poor in society. This is since developing nations are more vulnerable to escalating sea levels, flooding, and tempests. Also, their environmental structures are the most at risk. Statistical estimates for persons at risk of flooding owing to storm swells is 46 million people annually. The health of these global underprivileged is also the most at risk. Health impacts comprise an upsurge in cardio respiratory illnesses and morbidity due to anticipated increases in the length and concentration of heat waves. Indirect effects encompass the diffusion of vector-borne communicable illnesses. The costs of adaptation mitigation are expected to be enormous, but the cost of doing nothing about the menace is already very high and is expected to increase astronomically. In a new report commissioned by the UK government, the projected annual cost of taking no action is $600 billion. The expected cost of taking mitigating actions is considerably lesser, only 1 percent of global GDP. With this cognizance, one would expect there to be conceited efforts in curbing the challenge, at least from an economic point of view. The lack of conceited efforts to tackle the global warming challenge is one of the moral topics under reflection.

Ethical Issues

Climate change is a difficultytypically caused by the emission of greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by individuals and nations in one portion of the biosphere, emissions that threaten millions of persons, as well as innumerable numbers of forthcoming generations. Most of those affected can barely afford to safeguard themselves from the adverse effects; they can only be optimistic that those responsible for it will recognize the injustice they are instigating and ease their GHG emissions. Climate change makes it hard for a majority of people to enjoy their most fundamental human rights and as such, nations must limit their GHG emissions to levels that constitute their fair portion of benign global discharges (Dahl, 2011).

The foregoing presents the challenge of whether developed nations should bear special responsibilities to act before poor nations do. The present self-centered materialism experienced in the globe, and especially in developed nations, drives most of the climate change seen presently. This dogmatic materialism has pervaded all the significant power and information centers and economic paradigm around the globe, in turn ensuring that there are no competing voices to challenge the projects of worldwide economic exploitation. While it has elicited many paybacks, this selfishness has failed to address materialism’s ultimate flaw. Businesses and nations base their resolutions on financial bottom-line rather than the environmental effects of their actions. As such, there is a hedonistic, self-centered culture of the rich that has spread across the globe but which has failed to recognize its primary responsibility for climate change. There are skewed vulnerabilities, with the nations contributing less to global warming being the ones most affected. Based on these facts, many policy-makers have posited that the developed nations should bear the bigger cost of any mitigating efforts, but this has been met with many challenges.

The complexity of the scientific and ethical terrain makes the challenge susceptible to arguments of inaction; arguments that cloak themselves in ethical dialect but that in reality are weak and self-deceptive. The nonexistence of scientific conviction as regards the consequences of human-induced climate change validates the excuse for not taking mitigating action. In the US, for example, those opposing intervention contend that no act should be taken until nations resolve the scientific reservations about the impact of climate change. The deep fiscal, societal, and dogmatic separations between nations have prevented action in the common interest. Climate change is thus only one indicator of the inability of global governance systems to resolve the most critical challenges of today’s generation.

Another ethical matter raised is whether cost-benefit investigation should be utilized in designing policies to curb the menace. In the US, those arguing for no action justify it on the ground that the costs to the nation of mitigating GHGdischarges far overshadow the paybacks to the US of curtailing global warming (Rotman, 2013).What this portrays is that there is a failure of consensus on the fact that global warming is a trulyglobal phenomenon. Although as a group all nations would be willing to limit their GHG discharges to lessen the risk of calamitous effects, individually, each still desires to continue emitting unimpeded. Politicians are unwilling to sacrifice the short-term economic welfare of their nations, even when there is unanimity that sustainability is pivotal in the long term. The current economic thinking and culture fails attaches absolute value to acquisition, expansion, and the satisfaction of people’s wants without recognizing that the objectives, by themselves, are not realistic guides to policy (Dahl, 2011).

Another encounter that makes global warming a ‘perfect moral storm’ is that emissions have intense intergenerational impacts. These discharges persist in the air for an extended time, contributing negatively to climatic impacts for centuries, and even millennia. Additionally, temporal climate change diffusion elicits difficulties in collective ethical action since typical kinds of cooperation are seemingly impossible across generations (Gardiner & Hartzell-Nichols, 2012). There is a belief among many that there is no limit to nature’s capacity to fulfill any demand made on it. This theory challenges any sustainability efforts geared towards protecting the future generation.

Our conjectural tools are unfledged in various relevant areas including scientific uncertainty, intergenerational ethics, the apt correlation between hominids and the entirety of nature, and international justice. There are ethical queries of what targets for reducing GHG are equitable, and the quantity of degradation from human-induced climatic change that the global public should tolerate. Society has an ethical duty to protect distinctive places, nonhuman creatures, and nature as a whole. People have, however, failure to integrate these realities into the moral discussion of the consequences of climate change and how to tackle the menace. On matters of equity, the trading regime agonizes from a serious ethical difficulty: it can only be ethically benign if preliminary allocations are just. Before the commencement of trade, therefore, dialogue on the impartiality of apportionment allowances followed by consensus on the same must constitute the baseline of the system.  Nations today are refusing to take any action until there is agreement on ‘least-cost’ solutions, which should not be the case (Gardiner & Hartzell-Nichols, 2012).

The energy challenge, however, posits arguably the most momentous challenge to combating global warming. The industrial economies of the latter day were built on cheap energy, mostly emanating from fossil fuels. Consumerism- that encompasses trade, communications, agriculture, transportation, heating and cooling, has proliferated the demand on the shrinking energy resources. Alternative energy sources are either too expensive,dangerous or unexploited to warrant much consideration, meaning that fossil energy consumption will continue increasing. Statistics shows that world oil use is growing at 1.1 percent per annum, with the projections being a 56% rise from 2001-2020 (Dahl, 2011). As such, today’s energy demands are on a collision path with climate change.

Mitigation Strategies

The prerequisite for action is unity in eliminating the barriers to collaboration on climate change. Some nations have agreed on this and are promoting the sustainability concept as one where the needs of the present generation are met without compromising the ability of future generations to respond to their needs. Today’s society must learn to utilize natural resources, both renewable and non-renewable, in a manner that ensures egality and sustainability. This cognizance necessitates the full consideration of the environmental impacts of all development actions.

More attention needs to be devoted to the fair allocation of global emissions that are allowable at any particular point in time within suitable long-term arc. Developed nations ought to assume a larger portion of the burden and be allowed lesser discharges than the developing ones. The argument against the endeavor is that prior to 1990, there was ignorance regarding the climatic effects of emissions, and so these nations are not responsible for prior emissions. Others posit that allowing the present citizenry of developed nations to pay for past emissions would be prejudicial since most of those answerable are deceased.

The current inertia in the climate system means that some of the harmfulness can be mitigated through adaptation. However, some harmful effects such as habitat destruction and increased storm intensity are unavoidable and may necessitate endurance. These cases raise questions concerning who should shoulder the encumbrances. These questions involve complex global, ecological and intergenerational aspects of justice and equality (Rotman, 2013).

The current debate is centered on how climate change can be addressed collectively rather than at an individual level. There is an argument that individual responsibilities are primarily political, and individuals have little obligation to change their lifestyle and consumption choices. A counter-argument is that individuals should take responsibility and cultivate ‘green virtues’ not contingent on the response of others. The problem of this debate is that an individual’s emissions are very minute in comparison to the universal aggregate, and as such are unlikely to cause harm when considered in isolation.

Society requires novel, value-based economic modelling systems aimed at constructing a dynamic, thriving, and just social order that is truly altruistic and cooperative. Egality and justice are essential to achieving peace and unity of action in a global dimension. Sacrificing the wellness of the generality of the planet and humankind to the pluses that technology can make available to the privileged minorities is unjust. There is also need for solidarity with society’s poor who are the most vulnerable and incapable of protecting themselves (Rotman, 2013). The human race should consider fellow humans as a trust of the whole, and recognize that this responsibility is both individual and national. Trust is pivotal to every social and economic interaction. Currently, there is little trust in business and politicians, and the repeated failure of corporations and enterprises to respect commitments they have made does not help. Re-establishing trust is thus a critical part of the action campaign to curb climate change. For sustainability to thrive, a rethinking of economics is essential since today’s economic system is unsustainable and incapable of responding adequately to climate change.


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IPCC. (2001). Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Third Assessment Report, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Working Group I. Retrieved from

Rotman, D. (2013, April 11). Climate Change: The Moral Choices. Retrieved from