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Climate change, Responsibilities, and Defeatism and Complacency

Keywords: Climate Change, Political Inaction, Responsibilities.

Author(s): Thomas Heyd

Date: 2011-12-12

Issue: 2011-13

  Download this working paper (205 KB.)

Paradoxically, knowledge of the increasing certainty about climate change, and of the severe consequences of this phenomenon for large portions of the world population, may lead individuals and communities to fall into a paralysing defeatism. Such defeatism, even more paradoxically, may be accompanied by complacency, due to assumption that, on the basis of our societies’ institutional, scientific and technical capabilities, we can wait until problems really become evident. Both the defeatist and the complacent attitude may lead to failure in the application of entirely feasible mitigation and adaptation measures, with consequent much increased probabilities of economic, human and ecological costs. In view of the degree to which these attitudes are present in our societies we may wonder whether inaction may be justifiable on our part despite awareness of stringent responsibilities. Here I argue that, even if it may appear that, under these conditions, we cannot take direct action on our responsibilities regarding climate change, we still have responsibilities to act at another level.

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