Vulnerability, Adaptation & Climate Justice – Sydney Ideas

Monday 20th August 2012

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Law School Foyer Level 2, Sydney Law School University of Sydney


Dale Jamieson: Living with Climate Change

Climate change is occurring and is effectively irreversible on time scales that are meaningful to us.

Our failure to prevent or even to respond significantly to climate change reflects the impoverishment of our systems of practical reason, the paralysis of our politics, and the limits of our cognitive and affective capacities. As a result of our failure, the physical conditions of our existence are likely to become more trying. Virtually everything that matters to us in human culture and civilization occurred in a 10,000 year period in which the Earth was extraordinarily quiet and planetary conditions unusually stable. This was likely to change in any case, but it is particularly tragic that we are currently the major force in their disruption. In this talk I try to provide some consolation and motivation in the face of these sobering realities. Perhaps more than ever it matters what we do.

The rate and extent of climate change is still to some extent under our control. It matter how much and how quickly we emit, and in a radically unequal world it matters who does the emitting. It also matters whether and how we adapt and who bears the costs. Most of all it matters how we and our children will find meaning in a strange world that we have made.

Dale Jamieson is Director of Environmental Studies at New York University, where he is also Professor of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, and Affiliated Professor of Law. Formerly he was Henry R. Luce Professor in Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carleton College, and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he was the only faculty member to have won both the Dean’s award for research in the social sciences and the Chancellor’s award for research in the humanities.
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