An Ethical Framework for Analyzing Global Warming

Donald A. Brown

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Thursday, November 10, 2005 - 1:15pm to 2:15pm

Theater, St. Paul Student Center

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The problem of human-induced climate change raises profound ethical questions because climate change policy will determine which plants, animals, and ecosystems will survive and whether nations will support a just international order. Yet there is a curious lack of ethical reflection on a host of important questions raised by climate change despite a growing scientific and economic literature on this problem. After identifying the major ethical questions raised by climate change policymaking, Mr. Brown explained why ethical reflection on climate change policy options urgently needs to be integrated into the scientific and economic matters that are currently framing climate change debate. Mr. Brown also examined whether current approaches to climate change policy are ethically justified. The presentation concluded with Mr. Brown's suggestions on how to increase awareness about the ethical dimensions of climate change issues.

Donald A Brown

David A. Brown is currently director of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy, an organization comprised of 52 colleges and universities in Pennsylvania as well as the Pennsylvania Departments of Environmental Protection and Conservation and Natural Resources. Mr. Brown also serves as Senior Counsel for Sustainable Development for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Before holding these positions Mr. Brown was Project Manager for United Nations Organizations, United States Environmental Protection Agency, Office of International Environmental Policy. Mr. Brown has also served in a number of senior legal and policy positions with the Pennsylvania and New Jersey environmental programs, worked as an engineer and taught philosophy, environmental law, and sustainable development at a number of universities. Mr. Brown has written and spoken extensively on the need to integrate environmental ethics, science, economics, and law. His most recent book is entitled: American Heat: Ethical Problems with the United States Response to Global Warming. Mr. Brown is also director of the Program on the Ethical Dimensions of Climate Change. This program is a collaboration of eight institutions around the world for which Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State University is the secretariat.