TN-Knoxville/Oak Ridge: ActOnClimate Climate Change Press Call

John Nolt,  UT Professor in the Department of Philosophy, specializing in environmental ethics and philosophical logic.

Summary of Remarks for OFA Event
at Congressman John Duncan’s Office
January 26, 2015
John Nolt:  

Climate change is causing large numbers of deaths (in the hundreds of thousands per year). The rate of deaths is increasing, but even at current rates, the cumulative total will be in the tens of millions of deaths by the end of the century. That is on the order of magnitude of the number of deaths in World War II. The cumulative total will continue to increase long beyond that.

To kill an innocent person is simply wrong, whether that person lives next door or on the other side of the world or at the other end of this century. To kill tens of millions is heinous.

Any emission of greenhouse gases contributes to this harm. This is because harm is a continuous function of increasing temperature and temperature increase is a continuous function of total greenhouse gas emissions. Though no individual is responsible for any particular harm of climate change, we all bear some responsibility for our emissions, and collectively we all are responsible for a calculable percentage of them. Since the casualty numbers are large and growing, this moral responsibility is very large.

The American government and people should therefore take rapid and immediate steps to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

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