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Archive: An Ethicist’s View of Climate Change

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Dr. Thomas White

While the topic of global climate change has been debated from scientific and political perspectives, the heat of those discussions has caused the ethical dimensions of the issue to be overlooked. No matter what the cause, the planet is warming in a way that will likely lead to serious harm to billions of people as a result of shortages of food and water, greater incidence of certain diseases, mass migrations of millions of people, threats to national security from increased risk of conventional military conflict, and likely increase in terrorism linked to extremist political movements. A fundamental, universally recognized ethical principle is that if we’re able to prevent harm to others, we have a responsibility to do so. How serious is the challenge we face, and how should we respond?

Dr. White is an expert in philosophy and ethics regarding the environment and sustainability, what motivates people to protect the environment, aligning environmental policy with ethics and scientific expertise, and animal advocacy. He is the Conrad N. Hilton Chair of Business Ethics and the director of the Center for Ethics and Business at Loyola Marymount University.

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