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It’s Wrong to Wreck the World: Climate Change and the Moral Obligation to the Future

March 20, 2012

An SFU Lecture presented by Dr. Kathleen Dean Moore, Philosophy, Oregon State University:

Although climate change is a scientific & technological issue, it is also a moral issue, & calls for a moral response. Why has climate-change science elicited such stunning indifference? How can we respond to the crisis in ways that honor duties of compassion, justice, & respect for human rights? How can we discuss these values across differences?

Wednesday, March 21  – 7-9 pm

SFU Vancouver-Harbour Centre, Room 1400

Register: http://at.sfu.ca/WNuiXW

How astonishing that this even needs to be said. A reminder of what’s happening out there:

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Richard Miller asks: “Why Don’t We Take Climate Change Seriously?”

When faced with the overwhelming character of these forecasts, we develop coping mechanisms (as multiple studies in psychology and climate change have shown) that shield us from the real gravity of our situation. This is understandable, and to some extent we are all to a certain degree susceptible to this, since a real acceptance of the science requires one to fundamentally revise one’s understanding of the world and one’s responsibilities to it. That is not easy to do.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jon Petrie permalink
    March 20, 2012 11:44 pm

    If climate change is a moral issue, then it’s also a moral issue to get the facts right — and a moral duty to not be a bystander when climate change ‘facts’ are circulated that are false or misleading.

    Vancouver BC on its web site claims per capita 2008 green house gases were , a comforting and useful marketing claim for real estate interests but untrue and dangerously encouraging complacency. (1) Vancouver WA estimates circa 7.7 tons per capita of embodied GHGs (green house gases) just in imports from outside of city boundaries — about 165% of Vancouver BC’s declared per capita total emissions. (2)

    Excluding green house gases embodied in imports (e.g. cement/concrete from Delta and Richmond) from the Vancouver BC figures creates the illusion that a meaningful lowering of GHG emissions is possible without lowering consumption or radically changing consumption patterns. Suppose Vancouver BC could lower its per capita road emissions by say 30% over a five year period then given the existing Enron accounting favored by our city, it will appear that total per capita emissions have dropped by a seemingly respectable 11%. But using the more revealing accounting favored by Vancouver WA a drop of 30% in per capita road emissions would lower that honest city’s estimated per capita’s emissions by a bit under 5%.

    How come you are reading this here now, not a few years ago and written by a respected academic ?

    I did question former Vancouver alderman David Cadman (Carbon Cadman) a year and a half ago about the absences in Vancouver BC`s GHG numbers. He replied more or less: `the Kyoto protocols allow for these absences.` I emailed the Vancouver based Suzuki foundation a year ago and suggested that in not criticizing the highly misleading Vancouver BC GHG figures the foundation was implicitly endorsing them. Someone at the foundation replied:
    No response has been received.

    1) http://vancouver.ca/sustainability/climate_protection.htm Both Vancouver BC and Seattle claim radically lower per capita GHG emissions than Portland Oregon due primarily to the low number they give for their GHG cost of electical consumption. The three cities are linked by high voltage power lines and if consumption was curtailed in the two northern cities, Portland would use less coal generated electricity. But the GHG opportunity cost of consuming ‘green’ hydro energy goes unrecognized in Seattle and Vancouver BC’s GHG accounts. Vancouver WA accounting of GHG emissions from electrical use contrasts dramatically: “depending on the emissions factor … the results are widely different …” and three different results are presented in bar chart form — much more informative than presenting one low figure (“garbage in, gospel out”). http://www.cityofvancouver.us/upload/images/PublicWorks/CoV_GHGComm_Final-TechnicalReport-102009.pdf p 20 and 21
    Vancouver BC unlike Seattle makes no estimate of GHG’s from its port and airport — subtract the categories of GHG emissions found in the Seattle figures that do not appear in the Vancouver BC figures and Seattle’s 2008 per capita emissions falls from 7.1 tonnes. to 4.7 tons per capita — essentially the same as Vancouver BC’s claimed 4.6 tonnes per capita.

    2) http://www.cityofvancouver.us/upload/images/PublicWorks/CoV_GHGComm_Final-TechnicalReport-102009.pdf
    A UC Berkeley report of campus emissions went beyond what was required by protocols and made an estimate of embodied GHGs in ‘imports’ to the campus. Employing conventional reporting, the campus ‘economy’ was responsible for circa 210,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent, adding embodied emissions and the figure became 480,000 tons, a 130% increase — p. 26 in

    http://sustainability.berkeley.edu/calcap/docs/CalCAP%20Report%20FINAL%202007.pdf

  2. Jon Petrie permalink
    March 21, 2012 4:37 pm

    Sorry, comment above has some important absences:

    Second paragraph, first line should have read:

    Vancouver BC claims per capita 2008 GHG (green house gas, mainly CO2) emissions were [quote]

    And second to last line before footnotes should have read;

    Suzuki foundation reply to me read

  3. Jon Petrie permalink
    March 21, 2012 4:42 pm

    Again an absence…

    Suzuki foundation reply to me read :

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