Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Obama and the ethics of climate change

Donald A. Brown, an associate professor of environmental ethics science and law at Pennsylvania State University, has posted a very interesting commentary on the site. Brown questions whether the United States has the right to make climate change policy decisions based only on its own national interests rather than global interests. He begins as follows:

Three times in his movie Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore asserts that climate change is a moral issue. Yet, the US response to climate change has often failed to take seriously the implications of the claim that climate change raises moral issues. Although statements of President-elect Obama indicate a new willingness to assure that US climate change policy is consistent with global obligations, a recent report raises the question of whether the failure to understand the moral and ethical dimensions of climate change policy remains a problem among members of the Obama team.

Brown goes on to discuss the two camps in the Obama team, one represented by Carol Browner and the other by Lawrence Summers, and goes into a lot of details about the ethical issues that I would urge you to read. His conclusion:

Economists like Lawrence Summers can help policy makers figure out how to achieve US international obligations at lowest cost but they do not have a right to conflate national economic interest with global obligations.

With thanks to CHP for alerting me and others to this post.

Gaza and the New York Times. The Times has finally broken its editorial silence on the current situation, in a fashion that puts most of the blame on Hamas but gives friendly advice to Israel that its best interests ultimately lie in negotiations. The editorial makes only passing reference to the huge human cost of the invasion, which in moral terms is the most important aspect--as should go without saying, but nevertheless falls on too many deaf ears.

Hamas speaks. A spokesperson for the organization gives its side in the Los Angeles Times. Kudos to the LAT for publishing it.

Israel's New War Ethic. A revealing look at how Israelis continue to see themselves as victims and the moral gymnastics they use to justify the slaughter in Gaza, by Israeli political scientist Neve Gordon in The Nation.

Gaza, Tribal Politics and Collective Guilt. An important commentary by Joseph Levine, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Pleased by Panetta. So says Marc Cooper in his latest blog post, which also includes a link to today's New York Times story on the 6-year detention and torture of Muhammad Saad Iqbal. Yes, the Times does lots of good things too, thanks to terrific reporters like Jane Perlez and Ray Bonner.

The Afghan Quagmire. I somehow missed this Jan 5 piece by Bob Herbert in the Times, which argues very effectively against ramping up the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. I hope this is the beginning of a serious opposition to Obama's plans--which, for once, we should hope was only empty campaign rhetoric.

L.A. Weekly: The Autopsy Report. Marc Cooper, a former news editor and long time contributor to what used to be one of the U.S.'s most important alternative newspapers, provides a detailed history of its rise and fall.

Military women and PTSD. A lengthy inquiry into the much higher rates of post-traumatic stress disorder among women than men who come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, with video and lots of personal testimony. In Boston University's online magazine BU Today.

1 comment:

Anne Gilbert said...

Just FYI, if you can get al-Jazeera in some manner, you will discover that President-elect Obama has finally come up for air on the issue of the ongoing carnage in Gaza. Better late than never I suppose. He claims to be committed to the peace process, but the current situation is just going to add to the huge pile of problems awaiting him when he starts occupying the Oval Office.
Anne G