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Book Review: A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change , written by Stephen Gardiner

Book Review: A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change , written by Stephen... New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 489 pp. isbn 978-0-190537944-0, us $35. Stephen Gardiner’s A Perfect Moral Storm is an epic and forceful account of our current moral quandary. Its central argument is that the global, intergenerational, and theoretical problems presented by climate change converge in a ‘perfect storm’ that leads to buck-passing, undermines moral discourse, and leads to ‘moral corruption’. Gardiner lays out his forensic analysis in 450 pages, and concludes that we are ethically adrift in a climate storm and no easy answers are forthcoming. Globally and temporally, climate change is radically distributed, and this distributed character inhibits collective action. Globally, responsibilities for climate change are concentrated in the developed nations, but vulnerability is greater elsewhere – this creates incentives for moral corruption, such as rationalization or denial. Temporally, the fact that climate impacts are seriously back-loaded, that is, deferred, leaves current generations with little rational incentive to act, which in turn further reduces the incentive for subsequent generations to step up to the challenge. The final element of the ‘perfect storm’ is theoretical: both mainstream economic theories and ethical thought are inadequate in the face of climate change, while ‘the conventional grab bag of public http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Climate Law Brill

Book Review: A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change , written by Stephen Gardiner

Climate Law , Volume 4 (1-2): 193 – Jul 25, 2014

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2014 by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
Subject
Book Reviews
ISSN
1878-6553
eISSN
1878-6561
DOI
10.1163/18786561-00402019
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 489 pp. isbn 978-0-190537944-0, us $35. Stephen Gardiner’s A Perfect Moral Storm is an epic and forceful account of our current moral quandary. Its central argument is that the global, intergenerational, and theoretical problems presented by climate change converge in a ‘perfect storm’ that leads to buck-passing, undermines moral discourse, and leads to ‘moral corruption’. Gardiner lays out his forensic analysis in 450 pages, and concludes that we are ethically adrift in a climate storm and no easy answers are forthcoming. Globally and temporally, climate change is radically distributed, and this distributed character inhibits collective action. Globally, responsibilities for climate change are concentrated in the developed nations, but vulnerability is greater elsewhere – this creates incentives for moral corruption, such as rationalization or denial. Temporally, the fact that climate impacts are seriously back-loaded, that is, deferred, leaves current generations with little rational incentive to act, which in turn further reduces the incentive for subsequent generations to step up to the challenge. The final element of the ‘perfect storm’ is theoretical: both mainstream economic theories and ethical thought are inadequate in the face of climate change, while ‘the conventional grab bag of public

Journal

Climate LawBrill

Published: Jul 25, 2014

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