The Ecological Context of Climate Change Ethics
The application of the Precautionary Principle, climate justice and biological and cultural diversity to the problems posed by climate change is not only for the sake of the vulnerable sectors of human populations and the next generation of human beings. The very conditions of human existence, their life support systems, are the ones threatened by the adverse consequences of climate change.
With respect to the Precautionary Principle, COMEST recommends that “Deliberations on the Precautionary Principle should explicitly consider the negative impacts that human activities my have on nature, even if these impacts do not pose direct risks on humans.” This recommendation is predicated on the complexity of the technological, social and ecological interactions that produce unintended harmful consequences on vulnerable populations, especially that of the Global South.
Since we have determined that the origins of our current experience of climate change is anthropogenic, however, it is incumbent upon human beings to respond in a way that is more considerate and kind to their environment. Taking care for our environment, in turn, means taking care also of each other as fellow human beings regardless of our location on this planet.
As COMEST reiterates in its Report on the “Ethical Principles of Climate Change:Adaptation and Mitigation,” (2015):
“The shared challenges imposed by climate change, however, foreground the importance of a common world to be protected and enhanced as a common basis for solidarity among peoples of different backgrounds and the interdependence of human beings and their surroundings.”
Responsibility for sharing the additional burdens experienced by the Global South as a consequence of climate change, therefore, rests on each member of the human community. When we all take care of our environment, we also take care of the rest of humanity, especially those who are most adversely affected by climate change.
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© 2015 COMEST, “Ethics of Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation”