Shue on intergenerational climate responsibility and vulnerability


in Politics, The environment

“Doing nothing” about climate change in the sense of simply continuing business as usual is — far from actually doing nothing — continuing to change the environmental conditions that future generations will face for the worst. To persist in the activities that make climate change worse, and thereby make living conditions for future generations worse, is not merely to decline to provide protection. It is to inflict danger, and to inflict it on people who are vulnerable to us and to whom we are invulnerable. The relationship is entirely asymmetric: they are at our mercy, but we are out of their reach. Causation runs through time in only one direction. Lucky for us.

Shue, Henry. “Deadly Delays, Saving Opportunities” in Pachauri, Rajendra Kumar, Stephen Gardiner, Simon Caney, Dale Jamieson, and Henry Shue. Climate Ethics: Essential Readings. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010. p. 151


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