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A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND SCIENCE POLICY SERIES) [Kindle Edition]

Stephen M. Gardiner
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Climate change is arguably the great problem confronting humanity, but we have done little to head off this looming catastrophe. In The Perfect Moral Storm, philosopher Stephen Gardiner illuminates our dangerous inaction by placing the environmental crisis in an entirely new light, considering it as an ethical failure. Gardiner clarifies the moral situation, identifying the temptations (or "storms") that make us vulnerable to a certain kind of corruption. First, the world's most affluent nations are tempted to pass on the cost of climate change to the poorer and weaker citizens of the world. Second, the present generation is tempted to pass the problem on to future generations. Third, our poor grasp of science, international justice, and the human relationship to nature helps to facilitate inaction. As a result, we are engaging in willful self-deception when the lives of future generations, the world's poor, and even the basic fabric of life on the planet is at stake. We should wake up to this profound ethical failure, Gardiner concludes, and demand more of our institutions, our leaders and ourselves.
"This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." --Science Magazine
"Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. --Required reading." --Green Prophet
"Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." --Times Higher Education
"Stephen Gardiner takes to a new level our understanding of the moral dimensions of climate change. A Perfect Moral Storm argues convincingly that climate change is the greatest moral challenge our species has ever faced - and that the problem goes even deeper than we think." --Peter Singer, Princeton University


Editorial Reviews

Review


"Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. --Required reading." --Green Prophet


"Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." --Times Higher Education


"Stephen Gardiner takes to a new level our understanding of the moral dimensions of climate change. A Perfect Moral Storm argues convincingly that climate change is the greatest moral challenge our species has ever faced - and that the problem goes even deeper than we think." --Peter Singer, Princeton University


"This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." --Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews


"Everyone who is interested in ethics, the future of her children, or the welfare of the planet, should read this book. Clear, analytically precise, and superbly written, Gardiner does practical philosophy at its very best. In analyzing the ethics of climate change, no moral philosopher anywhere does a better job than Gardiner. He sets the standard for work in this area." - Kristin Shrader-Frechette, Philosophy and Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame


"Gardiner's A Perfect Moral Storm sets a new standard in erudition, philosophical rigor, and interdisciplinary breadth in discussions of climate ethics. This book should be read by any philosopher, scientist, or policy-maker who is serious about addressing the moral challenge with which climate change confronts us." --Dale Jamieson, Environmental Studies and Philosophy, New York University


"Written with great authority and lucidity, A Perfect Moral Storm identifies exactly why our ethical theories and intuitions have been found wanting in relation to climate change. Before seeking to remove the speck in other people's eyes- laying the blame -it is best to remove the log in one's own. Gardiner's book helps us to do just that: for professionals, students and advocates alike. This will be an important benchmark analysis for years to come." - Mike Hulme, Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia


"In the most penetrating analysis yet Gardiner convincingly shows the sources of the dangers likely to be our frightful legacy to coming generations. With steely foresight he pioneers the exploration of the climate abysses, including geo-engineering, that shamefully bad idea whose time seems ready to come." --Henry Shue, Politics and International Relations, Oxford University


"A Perfect Moral Storm exposes the multiple hidden agendas behind the fiery but largely vacuous public debate that focuses on the credibility of climate change science. By challenging us to acknowledge and come to grips with the profound ethical dimensions of global, intergenerational issues like human induced climate change, Gardiner's book will help us to understand and hopefully to move beyond the current impasse in environmental policy legislation." --Mike Wallace, Atmospheric Sciences, University of Washington


"Gardiner's is a distinctive voice at the forefront of contemporary debates about the ethical implications of climate change. Much of what he writes is profoundly unsettling, revealing not only the nature and scale of the problem facing us -- a perfect moral storm --but also why it is so hard for us to shift the personal and institutionalized motivations that are leading us into an already unfolding global environmental tragedy. I expect the book to be highly influential in shaping ethical debate in the years to come." - Tim Hayward, Environmental Political Theory, University of Edinburgh


"The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." - Science Magazine


About the Author


Stephen Gardiner is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Program on Values in Society, University of Washington, Seattle.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1051 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0195379446
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (April 6, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B009IK6EQ2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,931 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Thoughtful July 16, 2011
Format:Hardcover
This is a very thoughtful and systematic analysis of the moral aspects of climate change. Gardiner is a moral philospher and appropriately approaches climate change as an ethical challenge. This book is a serious and largely successful attempt to lay out the ethical dimensions of climate change, and in particular, why it is such a challenging problem. Gardiner argues well that a conjunction of 3 major and mutually reinforcing factors make addressing climate change particularly challenging, leading to what he calls a "perfect moral storm." One is that it is a truly global problem requiring an unprecendented degree of international cooperation in a world of nation-states with markedly different aims and an international system with only rudimentary institutions for the required endeavour. The second, and as he points out, somewhat related major problem is that this is an intergenerational problem. A lot of the book is devoted to working out the details of climate change as a particularly difficult intergenerational issue. Finally, and in perhaps the most novel section, Gardiner argues that climate change presents a "theoretical" challenge. The different types of theories we possess in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and policy analysis are poorly suited to addressing climate change. Individually, each of these three components is formidable, put together, the problem of developing an adequate response is beyond daunting.

A lot of the descritption and analysis of each component is very good. The global problem analysis, for example, contains a nice summary of the history and failures of major climate change negotiations over the past 2 decades.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Vital Book August 24, 2011
Format:Hardcover
If there is a more important book on Amazon I don't know of it. Gardiner explains why we are doing so little about a potential climate change catastrophe, when 1% of global GDP could fix it (`so little we would hardly notice it'). The book, even by academic standards is rigorous, meticulous and exceedingly fair-minded but he suggests useful `skips' for the less technically minded. You don't need to be a moral philosopher to understand it.
He very swiftly summarises the scientific consensus - CO2 emissions are up 30% since 1990 and still rising, and we need a cut of 50% to 80% by 2050.
Until very recently average global temperatures have been constant, plus or minus half a degree, for 10,000 years. Depending in part on future emissions, global temperatures will rise this century by between 1.1 C and 6.4 C. There was a 5 C increase between the ice age and now. We are in danger of creating a different planet.
He uses the metaphor of a Perfect Moral Storm to explain why we seem paralysed in the headlights of this possible catastrophe. He argues there are three mutually reinforcing `moral storms'.
The Intergenerational Storm - in the face of conflicts of interest, we usually debate and compromise. But future generations can't talk. They are either not born yet, or are too young to defend themselves against our self-interest. No institution or individual represents future generations in climate talks for example, and governments have short time scales of a few decades at most. So each generation passes the problem on, in a more severe form, and with less time to deal with it.
The Global Storm - we aren't good at global governance, or at enforcing the few agreements we do make.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Exercise in mental masturbation April 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This books makes some important points but fails in so many ways to communicate with an audience that will make a difference. When will intellectuals/academics learn to speak in ways that appeal to someone who isn't in the academy? The laborious point-by-point arguments, many of which are repetitive, are painful to read. This was surprising to me because the book received an excellent review in the journal Nature.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A Perfect Moral Storm is a supremely written volume and requires much from the reader. However, it is well worth the attention. In a tight discourse of nearly 500 pages, the author presents his perspective on the moral challenge posed by global warming. If the text alone were not enough, ample footnotes on nearly every page carry details of the author’s arguments. Whence the title? The author states that “… climate change constitutes a perfect moral storm that threatens our ability to behave ethically.”

Gardiner is able to see every argument from nearly every perspective, and the treatment is thorough on most items. The author goes past covering whether global warming is real or not (he firmly thinks it is) and focuses on what we are morally bound to do about it. He poses the moral problem as an intergenerational one and one that has to do with justice for the disadvantaged. Take, for instance, his statement that “… many of the victims of our bad behavior (the poor, future generations, and nature) lack the ability not only to resist, but even to make their concerns heard.”

The most clever chapter of the book may be Chapter 9 in which the author draws a long and solid analogy between the behavior of certain characters in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility and that of principal geopolitical characters in the world climate forums. In both cases he demonstrates moral corruption, one at a very small scale and the other at global scale.

One of the themes he returns to often is that our current political systems are possibly incapable of dealing with the problem, if in fact they have not already shown it.
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