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Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet
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2017 Book Discussions > Six Degrees by Mark Lynas

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message 1: by Traveller (new)

Traveller (moontravlr) | 34 comments Mod
Discussion thread for Six Degrees by Mark Lynas.


message 2: by Antonomasia (new) - added it

Antonomasia | 8 comments Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is for Lynas to use the highest-temperature rise scenarios. I found them very interesting, but does it contribute to the image of climate scientists as excessively alarmist? Or should that concern be set aside because it's really the people who accuse them of alarmism who are wrong and refusing to wake up to the dangers?
To use the risk analogies common in climate writing, these people wouldn't think it was completely impossible they might have a car crash when driving home from work and would take reasonable precautions against that, or they would be built into the car (e.g. airbag).


Dave Schaafsma | 8 comments Mod
I just read it and here's my review:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 4: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Antonomasia wrote: "Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is for Lynas to use the highest-temperature rise scenarios. I fou..."


I don't see that as being excessively alarmist. It's simply what models say WOULD happen if the temperature DID RISE by 4 degrees, 5 degrees, etc. I don't remember Lynas offering anywhere in the book a personal opinion (or even a consensus scientific opinion) about how far temps actually will rise. Those types of numbers do come out of models, based on the assumptions that are fed into them, of course.

Since writing this book Lynas has I think become more radical about where he thinks this is all going, and what needs to be done about it. In Six Degrees, I don't remember him saying too much about what should be done to keep the most drastic scenarios from occurring; beyond perhaps some very basic, obvious things like moving away from fossil fuels towards renewables.


Dave Schaafsma | 8 comments Mod
Ted wrote: "Antonomasia wrote: "Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is for Lynas to use the highest-temperature r..."
I think arms should be going off now, if not already then. He does not say what is going to happen, but he makes it clear nothing much has done to work against the models...


Dave Schaafsma | 8 comments Mod
David wrote: "Ted wrote: "Antonomasia wrote: "Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is for Lynas to use the highest-t..."
We have to be able to imagine the future if we continue on the path we are going on now. The failure of imagination is one problem here. Most people only imagine that with higher temperatures they will get more time at the beach in midwinter. Weather people are still today celebrating the forty and city degrees above normal temperatures here in February as a "gift" rather than very very bad news.


message 7: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
David wrote: "David wrote: "Ted wrote: "Antonomasia wrote: "Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is for Lynas to use..."


Yeah. I've made comments to people like, "we shouldn't be having this weather", and sometimes I get odd looks, as if I'm weird.


message 8: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Ted wrote: "David wrote: "David wrote: "Ted wrote: "Antonomasia wrote: "Hey. I read this last summer. (review)

What would you guys like to discuss about it?

One of the things I wonder is how helpful it is fo..."


Totally agree though most of my friends, while enjoying it, agree it's just too weird and wrong. And the weather stations here in Boston have been keeping a running report of temperature variations above normal.

And I'm also wondering about these vicious winds we're having because of the wild variations and changing weather fronts. Three people in Greater Boston area were killed while driving by falling trees just last week (2 episodes on 2 different days). And this didn't happen during storms--just wind of 40 to 60 mph. I don't recall so many episodes of this type of weather before. And we had the same today as the temp is going to fall about 20 degrees by tomorrow and more by Saturday. I think more and more people are seeing this weather as strange where I am.


message 9: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
We've had several episodes of unusually high winds in 2017. One was actually called a derecho, very unusual for these months. I'd never heard the term until we had one maybe three years ago in the summer. We've also had a few winter tornadoes, also very unusual.

There's a group called the Capital Weather Gang that blog for the Washington Post about weather, my wife is a big fan. Here's a run-down on who they are: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/c...

Anyway, last fall they came out with a long-term prediction that this past winter was going to be quite a bit colder than average. NOT. I would guess the winter was one of the two warmest in the last ten years. We did have a couple really cold winters two and three years ago, resulting from the so-called polar vortex.

I'm a bit worried that some sort of tipping point has been reached and northern winters are starting to enter a completely new regime of weather. Temps have been ridiculously high in Alaska this winter with daily temperatures hitting 40 degrees above normal on a few occasions.

The tundra in the far north is undergoing significant melting, releasing vast amounts of both carbon dioxide and methane. Happening in Siberia also. Whatever can and should be done, the current group in power in Washington is dead set against it. Disheartening. "Sad" indeed.


message 10: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments I also read somewhere, unsure of the source, that one of the planned cutbacks includes coverage of the output of the various weather satellites that provide much more up to date predictive forecasts than in the past. I imagine that business interests will get this added back---no humanitarian interest in saving lives involved!


message 11: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Sue wrote: "I also read somewhere, unsure of the source, that one of the planned cutbacks includes coverage of the output of the various weather satellites that provide much more up to date predictive forecast..."

Yes, I believe that's a proposed cut from NOAA's budget. It's difficult to see how cuts like like (a) help anyone, and (b) save enough money to make even a noticeable molecule of money in the budget. Well, Congress is the entity which crafts the budget, and I'm hoping there will be quite a few changes by the time it gets through that complicated process.


message 12: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Ted wrote: "Sue wrote: "I also read somewhere, unsure of the source, that one of the planned cutbacks includes coverage of the output of the various weather satellites that provide much more up to date predict..."

I'm hoping "saner" heads prevail but after seeing what's going on with the health care bill I wonder what to expect.


message 13: by Jaye (new)

Jaye Sue wrote: "Ted wrote: "Sue wrote: "I also read somewhere, unsure of the source, that one of the planned cutbacks includes coverage of the output of the various weather satellites that provide much more up to ..."

"saner" heads? Yikes, after seeing what is being done to the State Department I'm starting to think there isn't going to be any.


message 14: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Jaye wrote: "Sue wrote: "Ted wrote: "Sue wrote: "I also read somewhere, unsure of the source, that one of the planned cutbacks includes coverage of the output of the various weather satellites that provide much..."

I have to agree, Jaye. I keep hoping (the Pollyanna side of me, I guess) that there are sane backroom discussions going on which we are not privy to, where some Dems and Repubs are actually talking together about this country and the future.


message 15: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments I am not too knowledgeable about how an American administration works. But the present one seems to be working as the German government did in the 1930s; that is, all those who were not "loyal" in the judiciary or anywhere in the administration (including civil servants from the top down to the lowest level) were harassed until they would quit or just simply fired to be replaced with "loyal" individuals.

Hail Trump! Or are we not there yet? Never mind, we soon will be unless saner people who still have some power will pull the emergency break.


message 16: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
My review of Six Degrees: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


message 17: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Ted wrote: "My review of Six Degrees: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

I just read your highly informative review of Six Degrees. Scary!

I keep thinking whether there isn't a legal option for Democrats (and those Republicans who still have functioning brain cells) to force an administration to act in the best interest of the country (and in this case, the whole planet).


message 18: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Lilo wrote: "Ted wrote: "My review of Six Degrees: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show..."

I just read your highly informative review of Six Degrees. Scary!

I keep thinking whether there isn't a lega..."


Don't know of such an option, Lilo.


message 19: by Lilo (last edited Mar 26, 2017 06:27PM) (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments That's too bad. There should be such an option.

Maybe someone should install a special court for environment criminals, similar to the Court in den Hague for war criminals. Yet I am afraid that if such court should ever be installed, it would only be AFTER "the child had already fallen into the well".


message 20: by Laura (last edited Apr 12, 2017 06:28PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 3 comments Here is my review of Six Degrees . I hope it can add some food for thought to the discussion.

I finished Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet several days ago, but wanted to let the book's subject matter sit with me a few days before I wrote a review. Plus, I've been freakin busy! There are many insightful reviews on the subject matter itself, so I'm going to focus more on what the book meant to me as a human, and as a nurse. Bottom line: our earth is warming up. What is *causing* the warming, and how *severe* the warming will be constitutes almost all the discussion on climate change in mainstream media...when any discussion occurs at all. But as another astute reviewer put it--while the patient is alive we focus on the symptoms and a cure. Autopsies occur AFTER the patient dies. So, with our planet, I fear that we are so focused on the cause that we won't address the symptoms or a viable cure until its too late.

Mark Lynas has written a book that does just that...focuses on the symptoms. He outlines what each increasing degree Celsius means for our environment, and by extension us. His book is rooted in a 300 item long bibliography of scientific studies. His lens is broad, and his chapters encompass the entire globe, cataloging changes from the Amazon rain forest, to to the Savannah of Africa, to the Alps, to the poles. It may be hard for readers to wrap their mind around the scale of projected changes, to remember that each of these large areas contains countless villages, communities, neighborhoods, families. People whose entire way of life may very well change.

When I finished the book, my first thought was...how am I a nurse in a large university teaching hospital...and we aren't talking about this. We aren't actively participating in local or state governmental policy or taking action to advocate for our community. Some nurses, maybe even dozens of nurses are, but there isn't a collective, unified action. So then I wondered...are there any platform statements by nursing/health organizations? Turns out there are some, but many are woefully outdated. Here's one from the WHO--

Environmental Health...also refers to the theory and practice of assessing, correcting, controlling, and preventing those factors in the environment that can potentially adversely affect the health of present and future generations.

*1992*

And here's another quote, also from 1992, from the International Council of Nurses.

The concern of nurses is for people's health--it's promotion, its maintenance, its restoration. The healthy lives of people depend ultimately on the health of Planet Earth--its soil, its water, its oceans, its atmosphere, its biological diversity--all of the elements which constitute people's natural environment. By extension, therefore, nurses need to be concerned with the promotion, maintenance, and restoration of health of the natural environment, particularly with the pollution, degradation, and destruction of that environment being caused by human activities.



Much more recently the Ohio Nurses Review released a paper in September, 2016. They agree with many of the predictions that Lynas laid out in his book--namely the looming threats to public health of temperature related death and illness (heat stroke), air quality impacts, increasing extreme events (heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, floods, wildfires, and drought), growing food insecurity, and increased vector-borne diseases. These are serious threats to populations, and nurses need to educate themselves so that they can educate and advocate for their communities. We need to be doing this now!

I'm well aware of the educational challenges though. Almost 10 years after this book was published, a large percentage of Americans still refuse to believe that climate change is real. An even smaller percentage believe that climate change will affect them personally. Lynas does a great job of discussing the forms that denial take. Here are some of the major ones: 1. denial of responsibility (I'm not the main cause of the problem) 2. rejection of blame (I've done nothing wrong) 3. powerlessness (nothing I do makes much of a difference) 4. comfort (It's too difficult for me to change my behavior) 5. fabricated constraints (there are too many impediments and 6. faith in some kind of managerial fix or technological "white knight" which will solve the problem for everyone. This is a problem that requires grass roots, mass effort.

To close, Florence Nightingale wrote the first rule of Nursing in 1859. Back then wounded soldiers lay in squalor in dank wards. She famously said "Keep the air within as pure as the air without". In 2017 we must care about the air without. We must fight for its purity.


message 21: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Laura wrote: "Here is my review of Six Degrees . I hope it can add some food for thought to the discussion.

I finished Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet several days ago, but wanted to let the book's..."


Thanks for your very thoughtful review. I do hear talk about how municipal leaders in Boston, have been preparing for the increase in sea level to come but then I see the housing shows on TV where people are buying up beach front properties on the coasts and no mention is ever made of whether they are buying on a flood or disaster plain. Am I alone in thinking this is irresponsible? I guess I should start writing to these pie in the sky networks that continue to advance the "buy what and wherever" you want. Mother Nature won't mind.

I think your thought about the nursing and other health professions becoming vocally involved is important. Many people still have respect for health care practitioners even if they don't trust "scientists". Of course it might help if industry would stop lying---but that's unlikely to happen. I do wonder what planet they envision themselves or their descendants living on when the Earth is worn out. They are lying to the public but are they also lying to themselves?

Sorry if I'm a bit stream-of-consciousness with my comments but I was really struck with your comments and they sent my brain in various directions!


message 22: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Selling disaster-prone land for building lots is nothing new. It has been done all along in flood areas, landslide areas, and other hazardous areas.

Irresponsible, greedy developers bribe city/county officials to get the land approved for developing, and voila! Purchasers of building lots (and houses) are, in most cases, very ignorant.

Some real estate agents are aware of the the hazardous problems of the properties they are selling, but many aren't (depends on how well-known the particular problem is in the area). No matter whether the real estate agents are guilty or not, the initial criminal action lies with the developers and the bribed city/county officials.


message 23: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Lilo, what I am referring to are existing homes on especially the Southeast coast (I.e. the Carolinas, Georgia, and northward even up to the coast of Massachusetts. Some of these areas have been previously lost or badly damaged during storm tides. I believe there should be restrictions on rebuilding and warnings to potential buyers. These shows that work to draw people to coastal areas should have disclaimers. I like looking at the scenery but I am offended that there is never a mention of risk. Another area where environmentalists need to keep working. But there are so many, too many.


message 24: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Sue wrote: "Lilo, what I am referring to are existing homes on especially the Southeast coast (I.e. the Carolinas, Georgia, and northward even up to the coast of Massachusetts. Some of these areas have been pr..."

I agree with what you are saying.

There are also many existing homes on the mountain sides of the Wasatch Mountains (in Salt Lake City and suburbs and towns north and south of Salt Lake City), which are prone to slide down the hillside they are built on. And there have already been such disasters. These homes should have never been built in the first place and should not be allowed to be rebuilt after damage has already happened.

Wherever you look, there is work to do for environmentalists. They have to struggle with greed and stupidity in quite a number of different areas (with global warming probably the most important).


message 25: by Sue (new)

Sue | 13 comments Yes indeed. There is so much land management needed but now we are in an era of denial and total greed.


message 26: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Sue wrote: "Yes indeed. There is so much land management needed but now we are in an era of denial and total greed."

I think homo sapiens has been in an era of denial and total greed during most times of history. And this is not even the worst. Compare to bestiality.

As you can tell from my comments, homo sapiens is not my favorite species. "He who knows people, loves animals."


message 27: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Lilo wrote: "Sue wrote: "Yes indeed. There is so much land management needed but now we are in an era of denial and total greed."

I think homo sapiens has been in an era of denial and total greed during most t..."


or perhaps, "... loves the non-human animals better" ?


message 28: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Help me, Ted. I didn't get it.


message 29: by Ted (last edited Apr 16, 2017 12:01AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Just that people themselves are animals, so to say that people who know people love animals, implies that those people also love people. I think you meant to say people who know people, love animals more than they love people. Sorry, I was being pedantic, trying to make a light-hearted witticism. Happy Easter!


message 30: by Lilo (last edited Apr 16, 2017 11:52PM) (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Ted wrote: "Just that people themselves are animals, so to say that people who know people love animals, implies that those people also love people. I think you meant to say people who know people, love animal..."

Thank you, Ted. Now I get it.

Well, I might have loved non-human animals always a bit more than human animals. (Don't forget, I grew up surrounded by dangerous Nazis and murderous SS criminals.) And over the years, as a result of ongoing bad experiences with human animals I had treated very nicely, my love has shifted more and more toward non-human animals. Thus, I have ended up loving a much larger percentage of non-human animals (just about all non-human animals with the exception of blood-thirsty crocodiles, earwigs, and stinging insects) than human animals. (My husband and dear friends [most of whom GR friends] are the small percentage of human animals I still love [my husband] or am very fond of [friends].) :-)

Happy Easter!


message 31: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Has any of you seen the documentation "The Invisible Enemy" on CNN?

Due to some related books I have read, I have been aware of the fact that different species of bats (especially fruit bats) are the reservoirs for most plagues that have recently emerged (ebola, zica, sars, mers, etc.). However, I had not known that bats have come into more contact with humans and other ( :-)) animals (pigs, monkeys, apes, etc.), thus causing outbreaks of all kinds of deadly diseases, because CLIMATE CHANGE is forcing them to leave their natural habitats to feed on agricultural crops; they would starve if they stayed where they belong.

Did any of you know this?

P.S. We have normal (insect-eating) bats living in the rocks right next to our house. They carry (as most insect-eating bat colonies do) rabies. Our favorite cat (then a kitten) played with a sick bat (later autopsied and found to have died from rabies) 15 years ago. We ended up with a 6-months quarantine and $ 8,000+ costs (getting vaccinated ourselves and paying for the vet to come every week to check all our cats) in order to save the lives of our (then) 7 kittens, who had not yet been vaccinated when the incident happened.--However, these bats living in our rocks have nothing to do with climate change.


message 32: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Lilo wrote: "Has any of you seen the documentation "The Invisible Enemy" on CNN?

Due to some related books I have read, I have been aware of the fact that different species of bats (especially fruit bats) are ..."


As for bats. they are dying by the thousands across the eastern US because of a fungal disease that is infecting them and their colonies. They do eat an awful lot of insects.


message 33: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Ted wrote: "Lilo wrote: "Has any of you seen the documentation "The Invisible Enemy" on CNN?

Due to some related books I have read, I have been aware of the fact that different species of bats (especially fru..."


We would never harm our bats--not only because they are beneficial and eat lots of insects but also because we love all animals (with the few exceptions mentioned above).

I haven't heard about bats dying in large numbers (for anything) here in our area. Yet many (or even most?) colonies are infected with rabies (and probably other diseases). And when one has bats living close-by, as we do, it is wise to have all pets up-to-date with rabies vaccinations and teach kids to never handle, but report, any bats behaving in an unusual way. (Any bat out in the daytime IS behaving in an unusual way.)

The fruit bats I mentioned (NOT at home in the U.S., as far as I know, but at home in Australia and Asia) are the reservoirs of many newly emerged deadly diseases. These bats are hazardous when they leave their natural habitat and move to agricultural areas.

Apart from climate change causing problems with bats, bats also get more in contact with humans and other mammals (which, again, humans are in contact with) because humans intrude more and more into wilderness areas, which are the natural habitat of the above-mentioned fruit bats and also of other species of bats, most of which are reservoirs for deadly diseases. (The bats themselves are immune to most but not all of these diseases,

Summa summarum: The more humans meddle with nature, the more newly emerging, deadly diseases can be expected to emerge.


message 34: by Lilo (last edited Apr 17, 2017 12:02PM) (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments P.S. Re our bats: I am sure the bats were here BEFORE humans came to live in our canyon. (Indians lived here in small numbers before the canyon was inhabited by white settlers.) Thus, here, too, humans intruded the habitat of bats.

On the other hand, humans are bound to inhabit habitats of wild animals. All of our planet "belonged" to wild animals before homo sapiens emerged. It is probably the speed of this intrusion that causes most problems. But I am no expert on this subject. I am only guessing.


message 35: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
I agree with both your comments, Lilo. The fungal disease is endemic on the east coast and moving south from the Middle Atlantic states, but unlikely I would guess to find its way to your area because Utah is so dry. Lucky for your bats.

It's true that bats often carry rabies, and the disease is likely found in many bat communities. If ALL bats in a community had it, the community would likely to be wiped out, or at least severely reduced in number.

Currently there are a very few known cases of humans contracting the disease and surviving it, without treatment with the vaccine. I don't think much is known about the mortality-rate for other mammals.


message 36: by Lilo (last edited Apr 18, 2017 12:44AM) (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Ted wrote: "I agree with both your comments, Lilo. The fungal disease is endemic on the east coast and moving south from the Middle Atlantic states, but unlikely I would guess to find its way to your area beca..."

From what I know, the mortality-rate for other mammals is no better than that for humans. However, raccoons are said to be carriers without getting sick.

I do not know of any cases where humans survived rabies without treatment with the vaccine.

My husband and I received the before-contact vaccination. (It cost already more than $ 2,000 per person.) We had to battle our (then) family doctor, who tried to insist giving us the after-exposure vaccination (which is extremely painful and would have cost $ 8,000+ per person) because I had handled the bat, grabbing it with a bunch of tissues, and the bat had been in a closed box in our house for several hours until our vet had picked it up.

We did not trust our doctor's advice and spent 3 days researching rabies at the website of the CDC and also consulting 2 German vets. (German vets are much more familiar with rabies than American vets, because rabies is rampant with foxes in Germany.) It turned out that there was no sound reason to have the painful and expensive after-exposure vaccination.

The big problem was that we had thought that our kitten had been bitten into the nose by the bat. There were "bite marks". We handled our kitten (who had to be treated for an eye infection, suspected by our vet to already be first symptoms of rabies) with long, heavy leather gloves. Then, after a few weeks when everything had calmed down, I viewed old photographs and found the "bite marks" to be "birth marks".

After 6 months, when my husband and I got the 2nd booster shots and a blood test was taken, it turned out that my husband had NOT taken to the vaccine. His teeter was only 2.5. For protection, a teeter of 10+ is necessary.

It rarely happens that a human or other mammal does not take to a vaccine. However, kittens and puppies need to be 3+ months old in order for the vaccine to take. Quite a few years ago (before our rabies incident) we had a criminal veterinarian in town who serviced the local dog pound (precursor of our animal shelter). He vaccinated all kittens and puppies of whatever age in order to make money. Not only did he endanger the kittens and puppies but also the members of the adopting families, who trusted their pets to be vaccinated.


message 37: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Lilo wrote: "Ted wrote: "I agree with both your comments, Lilo. The fungal disease is endemic on the east coast and moving south from the Middle Atlantic states, but unlikely I would guess to find its way to yo..."

The first known case (it was in Wisconsin) of survival without the vaccine occurred a few years ago. Apparently now that number has increased to about half a dozen.


message 38: by Lilo (new) - added it

Lilo (lilo-hp) | 17 comments Ted wrote: "Lilo wrote: "Ted wrote: "I agree with both your comments, Lilo. The fungal disease is endemic on the east coast and moving south from the Middle Atlantic states, but unlikely I would guess to find ..."

Interesting! I wonder whether the survival cases had to do with the virus getting weakened by passing through several species not ideally suited for the virus. (This happens with some types of viruses, but I forgot which ones.)


message 39: by Laura (last edited Apr 24, 2017 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Laura | 3 comments I enjoyed the above discussion about bats, but don't know enough on this topic to comment :( I DID find a paper I wrote for my college ethics class while cleaning house today, and found it interesting after reading Six Degrees . We were required to attend a summit on climate change at Ohio State University for the class, and then write a short paper on what we learned. The speakers introduced the term Tolerance complicity : hearing or seeing a wrong and doing nothing.

On Thursday, January 29th, I had the opportunity to listen to lectures by Professors Julia Driver and Steven Vanderheiden on individual responsibility in regards to climate change. The lecture began by discussing remedial response which looks forward and tackles a problem through taking responsibility and resource sharing. Professor Vanderheidon postulated that rationing of CO2 emissions should move from states or countries to individuals through a sort of carbon credit card with a monthly CO2 emission budget and set limits. The premise is that this would force individuals to not only consider their environmental impacts, but to also act responsibly. In the process, the assumption is that social norms would change (ie. people would bike or take public transportation vs. driving). People would also campaign for tax dollars to be spent in a way that supported wise use of their carbon credit card (dollars spent on light rail, dedicated bike lanes/green ways vs. extra lanes on freeways). This is an interesting concept, but I feel the potential exists for current economic disparities to worsen (carbon gap in addition to income gap). Despite this misgiving, control of carbon emissions is an ethical dilemma that will probably require drastic reform to current behaviors. Discussion and ideas such as Professor Vanderheiden's on how to accomplish such change are crucial.
Professor Driver then discussed the concept of causal responsibility (ie. if driver A is morally responsible for accident E, then driver A performed an action or omission that caused accident E). Most people understand this concept, but causality becomes messy when single individuals contribute extremely minimal amounts of harm that then becomes a huge problem when multiplied by millions of people (for instance garbage or emissions). Professor Driver introduced the idea of moral complicity as an answer to this dilemma. In other words, a person can still be wrongfully complicit in a harm, even if their contribution is minimal. Some examples given were buying clothing from a company that uses slave labor/child labor or purchasing meat from a company that inhumanely treats their animals. Professor Driver suggested that integrity is the antidote to complicity. By holding true to one's values, even if there may be little difference in outcome, one can preserve one's integrity, and perhaps even influence social norms just a small bit in the process. Optimistically, this ripple effect will see more and more individuals acting responsibly with noticeable results. I felt that this concept was both appealing and empowering to me.


message 40: by Ted (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ted | 348 comments Mod
Laura wrote: "I enjoyed the above discussion about bats, but don't know enough on this topic to comment :( I DID find a paper I wrote for my college ethics class while cleaning house today, and found it interest..."

Laura, thanks for this really interesting comment. There's a lot in it, and unfortunately I don't have time to respond to even part of it now. But I will try to return in the next day or two and begin to respond.


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