Fighting for our Planet, the Only Home We Have: Earth Day, April 22, 2016

April 20, 2016

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina. CREDIT: Bruno Camargo

Will the 2015 Paris Agreement be effective? Were Indigenous Peoples ignored? Is it human nature to simply not be able to tackle the problem of climate change? How can making ethics a crucial part of the discussion create more effective approaches? And what are the best ways that we can all fight for our planet?

To mark Earth Day 2016, Carnegie Council presents a selection of its best resources from the past year on all of these questions.  Coping with climate change and safeguarding our environment are two of the most urgent, interlinked problems confronting humankind. As Ban Ki-moon put it, "This Earth is our only home. Together, we must protect and cherish it."


International Efforts to Curb Emissions: Will Paris Succeed Where Others Have Failed?
Steinar Andresen, Fridtjof Nansen Institute
Although there have been well over 100 scientific and political meetings on climate change within the realms of the UN, global emissions are 50 percent higher today than in 1992. Therefore it's reasonable to question the effectiveness and capacity of the UN to solve this global problem. (December 2015, Policy Innovations article)

Does the Legally Binding Character of the Paris Climate Change Agreement Matter and, If So, Why?
Daniel Bodansky, Arizona State University
Will the Paris Agreement be more effective if it is a legal rather than a political instrument, and how much does the legal character of the agreement matter? Opinions on these questions differ widely. (December 2015, Policy Innovations article)

Sidelined at the Summit: Indigenous Peoples Ignored in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement
Bennett Collins, University of St Andrews
It's no exaggeration to say that Indigenous Peoples are the frontline defenders in the fight against the forces perpetuating climate change. Yet despite lip-service about their importance, the richer, more powerful countries saw to it that Indigenous Peoples and their voices were largely unseen and unheard at the Paris Conference. (January 2016, Carnegie Ethics Online article)


Book Review: Reason in a Dark Time: Why the Struggle Against Climate Change Failed—and What It Means for Our Future by Dale Jamieson
Daniel Bodansky, Arizona State University
"Generally, human action is motivated by either economics or ethics, or some combination of the two. People address a problem because they believe that doing so is in their economic interest or is morally right. But Jamieson believes that neither economics nor ethics is up to the challenge of climate change." (June 2015, Ethics and International Affairs book review)


Short-term Goodies versus Long-term Harm: The Ethical Dilemmas of Climate Change
Stephen Gardiner, University of Washington
Irene Pedruelo, Carnegie Council
"I understand climate change as a major ethical challenge, a perfect moral storm," says Gardiner. Our theories in philosophy and economics are not at all robust when it comes to thinking about these kinds of problems and similarly our public institutions are not well-formed. (November 2015, Policy Innovations interview)

Karenna Gore on Faith Communities and the Environment
Karenna Gore, Center for Earth Ethics
Stephanie Sy, Al Jazeera America
Karenna Gore, daughter of Al Gore and director of the Center for Earth Ethics, discusses how faith communities (including Indigenous Peoples) are rallying to combat climate change; what she sees as a shift in consciousness in how we define success; and much more. (October 2015, Ethics Matter Interview Series, audio, video, and transcript)

Global Warming: Environmental Ethics and Its Practice
Joint Uehiro Foundation-Carnegie Council-Oxford University Conference, New York City
Is it possible to establish an environmental ethic to combat global warming? Are there any major differences in environmental philosophies between Eastern and Western thought? This international conference addressed these important questions and more. (October 2015, audios and transcripts)


Good Environmental Policies Equal More Just Societies
Alison Singer, Freelance writer
Conserving natural resources and the environment is an integral part of a socially just society. The big challenge is to make sure that decision-makers recognize this—and act on it. (March 2015, Policy Innovations article)

The Rights of Nature: Reconsidered
Peter Burdon, Adelaide Law School
Peter Burdon argues that the environmental rights movement would benefit from more strenuous critical engagement with the question of nature's potential legal "rights." (March 2015, Policy Innovations article)

Reversing Climate Change: A Vision of an Organic Planet
Mark Smallwood, Rodale Institute
Mark Smallwood, executive director at Rodale Institute, claims that a global shift to regenerative organic agriculture can reverse climate change. (May 2015, Policy Innovations article)

A Conversation on Climate Change with Conservation International's M. Sanjayan
M. Sanjayan, Conservation International
Zach Dorfman, Carnegie Council
"The core role an organization like Conservation International plays is to move faster than government, to be more open to competition, and to do things that you may not have the entire population already on board with." (July 2015, Ethics & International Affairs interviews)

Taking Urgent Action to Combat Climate Change in the United States within the Next 15 Years
Annabelle Dunbar, University of Central Florida
American student Annabelle Dunbar advocates for the United States and its citizens to begin a transition towards more ecologically and economically sustainable ways of living by turning to alternative sources of energy, implementing more viable innovations, and altering certain lifestyles (including eating less meat).
(First prize, undergraduate category, 2015 International Student/Teacher Essay Contest)

The Fight Against Climate Change
Dheera Vuppala, Nashua High School South
"Climate change is happening," writes 15-year-old Dheera Vuppala. "Nine out of ten scientists say it is. The U.S. has to deal with it, so let's take the proper steps to fight it. Limiting industries' carbon emissions, lowering households' use of electricity, and researching and switching to renewable energy forms are only a few of those steps." (Second prize, high school category, 2015 International Student/Teacher Essay Contest)

Winners of the 2015 International Student Photo Contest on Climate Change
We asked students to send us examples of climate change OR examples of combating or adapting to climate change. Check out the winning photos.