CLIMATE CHANGE AS AN ETHICAL ISSUE
Natural resources exist for the good of man. A river, a mountain range, a stretch of forest or desert, all this is supposed to be useful in the most ethical manner so that they continue to serve human beings. Unfortunately, we have taken the atmosphere and oceans among other resources for granted. Human activities and responsibilities continue to cause harm to these limited resources and the result is climate change. National and international catastrophes such as drought and floods are direct consequences of the negligence of human beings. We have an ethical obligation to protect Mother Nature and fight for social justice(Singer 38).
John Locke in 1960, wrote a second Treatise on Civil Government with arguments touching on “Enough and as Good”. According to Locke, human activities ought to have a limit that is “enough” and does not cause harm or overuse limited resources. When we go beyond the line we no longer leave enough and as good for others. A good example is an atmosphere that has the capacity to take up and clean up gaseous wastes such as carbon dioxide, methane among other greenhouse gases. Beyond what the capacity, the gases damage the ozone layer and interferes with a finite resource that various parties compete for the claim. This is a social injustice. On the fight to redeem the climate there is a need for equitable distribution of responsibilities just as was said by George W. Bush during the 2000 US presidential election debate. When the United States begins to restrict its emissions then China, India among other countries that are manufacturing countries must step up otherwise the USA alone cannot carry the burden of cleaning up the world(Singer 39).
Going by history, as early as 1896, the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius had already warned about the consequences of overburdening the atmosphere. No Country can, therefore, feign ignorance. Unfortunately, this information was ignored and it only became an international issue in the 1980s. In 1987 top ten scientists appeared before the US Congressional hearing to lodge a complaint on global warming. This lead to the formation of a joint intergovernmental panel, the set out to investigate the causes of climate change and the final result was the birth of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that was signed in 1992. Key among in the treaty was the clause that required the parties to stabilize the greenhouse gases at safe levels on the basis of equity and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities. The convection, though not legally binding has been able to realize a great deal of change, for example, the US were been able to reduce its carbon dioxide emission by 40% by 2000(Singer 40).
The developed countries have been able to harm the poor countries in order to prosper. Whether intentionally or not, the rich countries owe the poor compensation for the harm they have done and continue to do. Going by the words of President YoweriMuseveni during the African Union Summit, the US and Western Europe are causing aggression to Africa by causing global warming. When it comes to global warming the poor nations suffer most because they in most cases rely on agriculture when compared to the rich nations. To make things worse, the undeveloped countries lack the resources to adapt. The only way to save the global climate is to become a citizen of the world. The consequences of human activities call for the need for human beings to act globally. The problem of climate change is an ethical issue and it requires social justice to be solved (Singer 41).
Singer, Peter. “Climate change as an ethical issue.” Climate change and social justice (2009): 38-41.
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