Description of the Issue
The warming trend experienced in different parts of the world is unprecedented (Dietz and Garrelts 4). The rate of climate change is of much interest because human-induced activities are to blame. Modern technologies such as “the use of satellites have made it easier for scientists to analyze climate on a global scale” (Gardiner par. 4).
Scientific evidence shows conclusively that the global climate is changing very fast. Dietz and Garrelts indicate that the current global warming is capable of disorienting many geological and ecological processes (11).
Several evidences have been presented to explain why climate change has become a major problem today. For example, sea levels across the world have been rising steadily within the last one century. The rate stands at 6.7 inches (Dietz and Garrelts 6).
Surface temperatures across the globe have been increasing. Statistics show that the last two decades have been the warmest since the year 1879 (Dietz and Garrelts 4). Experts and scientists have gone further to indicate that global temperatures are expected to rise within the next decade.
The other evidence of climate change is the rate at which ice sheets in the Polar Regions. Satellite pictures have indicated that ice sheets in the Antarctica and Greenland have reduced significantly within the past four decades.
This kind of loss can be attributed to the increasing surface temperatures in the regions (Gardiner par. 3). Consequently, the melting ice sheets have led to the rising sea levels. Unless something is done, these issues will get out of hand and eventually affect the welfare of many global communities.
Extreme weather and climatic events have been recorded in different parts of the globe since the year 1950 (Dietz and Garrelts 4). For example, the United States has experienced intense rainfalls in the recent past. The occurrence of tsunamis and typhoons are some of these extreme events.
Towards the end of 20th century, the El-Niño phenomenon was experienced in different parts of the world. Such downpours damaged infrastructures and claimed the lives of many persons in different continents. The rainfall changes and melting glaciers are extreme events that might endanger different human societies. Chances are extremely high that many people will lack clean and sufficient water in the near future.
Scientists have confirmed that the emission of different greenhouses gases from different nations is what has led to the current rise in global temperatures. Industries and manufacturing firms have been burning different fossil materials such as oil, gas, and coal.
These practices explain why greenhouses gases released from different human activities have affected the integrity of the natural environment. Some of these greenhouse gases include carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide (Dietz and Garrelts 67). Land use changes, continuous deforestation, and industrial practices have led to climate change.
Between 1990 and 2000, over 200 disasters associated with changing climatic patterns were recorded across the world. From 2000, the damage causes by climate-related extreme events and disasters have caused damages amounting to over 800 billion dollars. These facts therefore indicate that climate change is a reality that should encourage people to identify evidence-based initiatives to deal with it (Gardiner par. 4).
Using Global Ethic to Understand and Address Global Climate Change
The first fact to acknowledge is that climate change is today one of the morally or ethically challenging issues facing human (Appiah 6). The whole world has been grappling with a number of pervasive and urgent issues that must be addressed. Human beings have been known to abuse the earth’s natural ecosystems.
Human activities have been done in such a way that they threaten the future of the universe for posterity. Using the concept of egoism, most of the people who destroy the natural ecosystem do so with the aim of fulfilling their needs. This issue raises numerous ethical concerns because the individuals fail to consider the needs of the other citizens. They also ignore the issue of human posterity.
The ethical attributes surrounding the issue of climate change can be understood further by examining the works of Pope Paul VI (Arnold 12). In the year 1971, the Catholic Church leader argued that “the ecological concerns arising from unchecked industrial and human activities had become a tragic consequence” (Arnold 19).
It was observed that man was exploiting the natural environment at a very fast rate. Many people were engaged in unsustainable practices that continued to threaten the natural environment. Consequently, it was argued that man might eventually face the brunt of his malpractices.
Similar ideas have been presented by other professionals who believe strongly that humanity has increased chances of becoming the victim of this kind of environmental destruction. The biggest question is how this problematic issue can be tackled in an attempt to support the needs of the greatest number of people while at the same time addressing the needs of every future generation (Appiah 8).
The second issue to consider is how global climate change raises the basic question of ethics. This question is: how ought we to live? The selected issue presents a serious ethical dilemma that forces different stakeholders to act as moral agents (Kung 2). Climate change is a problem that cuts across all generations and continents.
Earlier generations were observed to exploit the natural environment. By so doing, the “generations took the benefits while at the time passing on catastrophic costs to people of the future” (Kung 4). The most pressing issue is how human beings should live without having to affect the welfare of future generations.
The above analysis shows clearly that climate change can only be addressed using adequate moral approaches. Human beings should be encouraged to think differently in an attempt to understand the major gaps associated with the fight against the problem.
Members of the global community should also become moral agents capable of taking actions and addressing the unique problems affecting the global society. Aristotle believes strongly that the challenge of climate change is something that revolves around the issue of human rights, posterity, political legitimacy, and welfare (26). Mankind’s relationship with the natural environment is another policy concern that surrounds the question of ethics.
The good news is that the global community can consider different frameworks and ideals in an attempt to make things right. The best solution is founded on the concept of global ethic (Appiah 17). Global ethic appeals to all men and women to change their consciousness.
By so doing, they can focus on transformation and positive thinking in an attempt to deal with the challenges affecting them. When human beings are committed to a specific global ethic, it can be easier for them to have mutual understanding, foster peace, and implement new practices that have the potential to produce a friendly earth (Aristotle 37).
The concept indicates that all aspects of creation are interdependent. That being the case, every human being has a calling to focus on the wellbeing of the entire universe. This goal can be realized by respecting the global community that is characterized by plants, people, animals, and geological cycles.
Every human being, in accordance with the notion of global ethic, is expected to preserve the soil, water, and air (Kung 2). The practice will ensure the planet is preserved for both the current and future generations.
This knowledge goes further to encourage different stakeholders such as governments, communities, business organizations, and individuals to come up with appropriate practices that can safeguard the integrity of the natural environment.
Governments can come together to implement adequate and sustainable measures to dictate the industrial processes undertaken by different manufacturing companies. Communities and individuals should be encouraged to engage in sustainable practices such as efficient use of natural resources (Kung 6). Specific malpractices such as deforestation, ineffective land use, pollution, and destruction of natural habitats should be discouraged in order to record positive results.
Human beings should take personal responsibilities to engage in positive actions and decisions that have beneficial consequences on the natural environment. When the environment is treated properly, cases of greenhouse emissions and poor land practices will be addressed.
Since climate change is a product of man’s actions, it would be appropriate for every individual to consider the most appropriate initiatives that can deliver positive results (Appiah 28). When these issues are checked, human beings will be able to address the problems associated with climate change and support the needs of every future generation.
It would be appropriate for human beings to look beyond their immediate needs especially whenever dealing with the natural environment. The concept of ecological conversation has the potential to improve people’s relationship with nature.
Moral conditions should be safeguarded in order to promote authenticity in human ecology. This is something critically because the current rate at which the natural environment is destroyed is quite alarming (Kung 3).
The efforts aimed at improving the integrity of the environment calls for new changes in the way people live, eat, and produce. New structures and forms of power can be designed in order to ensure every leader is willing to support this agenda.
This discussion therefore indicates that the application of the global ethic can help more societies understand the unique challenges arising from the problem of climate change. The conception goes further to explore how man’s failure to take the environment seriously has failed to fulfill the promise of human ecology.
The focus on personal gains and demands is a problematic thought that has led to the destruction of the natural environment (Gardiner par. 5). With the global ethic concept in place, more people will be willing to come up with new ideas and practices that have the potential to make things right. Consequently, every future generation will be able to realize its goals.
It is also appropriate to indicate that the application of the global ethic to the issue of climate change might be met with numerous challenges. To begin with, global ethic is a school of thought that encourages people to apply different moral theories and eventually deal with a specific problem. Unfortunately, some people might choose specific theories such as ethical egoism.
The use of this theory will definitely encourage more people to focus on specific actions that have the potential to maximize their goals (Gardiner and Hartzell-Nichols 11). This kind of thought will definitely make global ethic an inappropriate concept that can address the problem of global warming and climate change.
The other challenge arises from the thoughts of different “sycophants and skeptics who believe strongly that climate change is nothing more but a hoax” (Appiah 42).
Such individuals might not be ready to embrace specific practices that can transform the integrity of the natural environment. Issues of inequalities among nations can also threaten the application of global ethic. Consequently, such nations will be unable to understand the problem and nature of climate change.
People are known to interpret ideas differently. The use of global ethic to deal with climate change can therefore encounter this dark reality (Gardiner and Hartzell-Nichols 7). Some people might argue that developed nations are responsible for the current problem of climate change. Consequently, such individuals will be unwilling to embrace every idea aimed at tackling the problem of global warming (Dietz and Garrelts 26).
Some of the above challenges explain why most of the previous attempts aimed at addressing climate change have not been successful. It would be appropriate to come up with appropriate initiatives to encourage and empower more people to embrace the global ethic notion.
The use of powerful ethical theories and thoughts will ensure more societies are in the frontline to embrace the best practices that can result in sustainability (Gardiner par. 9). By so doing, the global community will insulate itself from the disastrous impacts of climate change and secure good living conditions for its descendants.
This discussion has supported the idea that global climate change is a major problem that must be addressed immediately. This is true because atmospheric temperatures and sea levels have been rising at an unprecedented rate. The future might be grim if sustainable measures are not put in place. Global ethic is a powerful idea that can guide people to embrace positive practices to deal with the problem.
Human beings should stop focusing on their egocentric needs and needs take the question of posterity seriously (Gardiner par. 12). The decision to respect the needs of future generations will compel more communities to protect the natural environment and eventually deal with the challenges arising from climate change. The unanswered question in this paper is the connection between global ethic and the issues of climate justice.
It is agreeable that the global community has been disagreeing over the issue of equity in environmental conservation. The disagreement between the underdeveloped and the developed world has continued to affect the major initiatives aimed at tackling the problem.
Some analysts have argued that many citizens in the developed world might not have to worry about the problem of climate change because the nations are capable of supporting their needs (Gardiner and Hartzell-Nichols 8). Many nations are not ready to abandon the argument regarding the role of specific societies in the fight against climate change.
It will therefore be appropriate for future thinkers to consider how global ethic can be applied uniformly to encourage more people to embrace adequate roles that can deal with the problem. This move will ensure the global community is ready to deal with this ethical burden.
Appiah, Kwame. Cosmopolitanism. Norton, 2007.
Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. Batoche Books, 1999.
Arnold, Denis. The Ethics of Global Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, 2014.
Dietz, Matthias, and Heiko Garrelts. Routledge Handbook of the Climate Change Movement. Routledge, 2014.
Gardiner, Stephen, and Lauren Hartzell-Nichols. “Ethics and Global Climate Change.” Nature Education, vol. 3, no. 10, 2012, pp. 5-12.
Gardiner, Stephen. “Why Climate Change in an Ethical Problem.” The Washington Post.
Kung, Hans. “Declaration Toward a Global Ethic.” Parliament of the World’s Religions, vol. 1, no. 1, 1993, pp. 1-15.