Climate Ethics

July 19, 2015

Are you confused about the climate ethics of your diet?

Me, too.

I don’t doubt that humans are having a significant impact on global climate systems, but I have some limited sympathy with the climate-change skeptics. It’s going a bit too far when you claim that this is all something that Al Gore (remember him?) made up right after he invented the Internet. And it’s also going a bit too far to claim that the steady rise in average temperature, the fluctuations in climate systems, the melting glaciers and the increasing number of extreme weather events have absolutely no connection to the fact that human beings having been pumping ever increasing amounts of methane, carbon dioxide and possibly some other stuff I’ve never heard of into the atmosphere. So hold on, Bessie, I’m not going anywhere near that far when I admit to being a bit confused.

Not to say that there isn’t something confusing here. I can hardly blame the so-called average person for not thinking too hard about stuff. Not thinking about stuff too hard is one of the perennial themes of the Thornapple Blog, after all. Have you seen those hilarious U-Tube videos where Jimmy Kimmel goes around asking all these people who are cutting down on gluten what it is that they think they are cutting down on? They don’t have a clue. So we could hardly blame folks who are skeptical about climate change who also have no clue what it is they are skeptical about. Confusing, isn’t it?

So if you are just either incensed or skeptical about climate change from the get-go with absolutely nothing further to base your respective attitude on, it would follow that you would not have much to go on when it comes to whether or not you should change your diet to save the world from sea-level rise, constant monsoons, desertification, and stoppage of the thermohaline circulation! Just getting through that sentence alone is pretty confusing, isn’t it?

Well, that’s about where I find myself.

So I sat down this morning to throw out a few musings on the subject, but by now I’m just so confused I don’t even know where to start.

So I’m just going to put the whole thing off until next week.

Paul B. Thompson is the W.K. Kellogg Professor of Agricultural Food and Community Ethics at Michigan State University


2 thoughts on “Climate Ethics

  1. I’m not sure that sympathy for climate change skeptics is warranted. All the CCSs that I’ve met are skeptical of climate change not because they fail to understand the empirical and theoretical claims of various branches of scientific inquiry, but rather because they think that the Gummint is going to take more of their money away and that can’t be based on anything true now can it? Because if it doesn’t (seem to) benefit me, it is surely false; QED.

    By the way, the online video repository is YouTube. I get confused, myself, by the incongruent references to the device used to get air during underwater running of a WWII-era German submarine.


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