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The Dangers of Climate Change and the Legacy of Hope

The Dangers of Climate Change and the Legacy of Hope
Vivian and David Campbell Conference Facility, Munk School
Time: Mar 15th, 3:00 pm End: Mar 15th, 5:00 pm
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Centre for Ethics Annual Public Lecture by Henry Shue, Oxford

The Centre for Ethics is pleased to present the Annual Public Lecture:

Henry Shue

The Dangers of Climate Change and the Legacy of Hope

Professor Henry Shue, Senior Research Fellow at Merton College, Oxford, and Professor of Politics and International Relations, is best-known for his book on international distributive justice, "Basic Rights", and for pioneering the sub-field of International Normative Theory, which he has been teaching as an optional subject in the M.Phil. in International Relations since 2002. He was a co-founder, in 1976, of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, a founding member of the Executive Committee of the Association for Practical and Professional Ethics (U.S.), and the inaugural Wyn and William Y. Hutchinson Professor of Ethics & Public Life at Cornell University. His research has focused on the role of human rights, especially economic rights, in international affairs and, more generally, on institutions to protect the vulnerable. After work on strategies regarding nuclear weapons in the 1980s, his writing during the 1990s mainly concerned the issues of justice arising in international negotiations over climate change. His current writing concentrates on the two primary aspects of war: the resort to war, especially preventive military attacks ["preemption"], and the conduct of war, especially the bombing of "dual-use" infrastructure like electricity-generating facilities. Unfortunately he also finds renewed interest in his 1978 article, "Torture."
Abstract:      The Dangers of Climate Change and the Legacy of Hope
The principles that ought to guide our one-way relations with future generations depend profoundly on the precise nature of what is being provided to or - in this case, inflicted on - them.  Most discussions of intergenerational justice assume that some benefit is being provided to the future.  In the case of the accelerating rate of climate change, we face a dilemma.  Business-as-usual on our part will make the environment for future generations less hospitable to human enterprises, especially agriculture, than the environment is for us and has been for previous generations, leaving the situation worse than it is now and worse than it would need to be.  On the other hand, rapid climate change can be beneficially slowed only if emissions of greenhouse gases in general, and carbon dioxide in particular, are sharply limited.  Any firm limit will make remaining cumulative emissions intergenerationally zero-sum, so that we will be competing with our own descendants for the limited remaining budget of allowable emissions.  This dilemma gives responsibility to future generations a radically unusual shape but also creates an opportunity to accomplish great good if we are resolutely innovative.

The event is free and open to the public.

Download flyer here.

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