Article | Proceedings from the 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference 2013. Climate Change; Sustainability; and an Ethics of an Open Future. August 22-25; 2013; Soesterberg; The Netherlands | Understanding Climate Change as an Existential Threat: Confronting Climate Denial as a Challenge to Climate Ethics
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Title:
Understanding Climate Change as an Existential Threat: Confronting Climate Denial as a Challenge to Climate Ethics
Author:
Tim Christion Myers: Departments of Environmental Studies and Philosophy, University of Oregon Eugene, Oregon, USA
Download:
Full text (pdf)
Year:
2013
Conference:
Proceedings from the 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference 2013. Climate Change; Sustainability; and an Ethics of an Open Future. August 22-25; 2013; Soesterberg; The Netherlands
Issue:
098
Article no.:
003
Pages:
25-39
No. of pages:
15
Publication type:
Abstract and Fulltext
Published:
2014-04-24
ISBN:
978-91-7519-289-5
Series:
Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings
ISSN (print):
1650-3686
ISSN (online):
1650-3740
Publisher:
Linköping University Electronic Press; Linköpings universitet


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Climate change cannot be managed by experts and politicians alone. Consequently; climate ethics must take up the challenge of inviting public responsibility on this issue. New sociological research on climate denial by Kari Norgaard; however; suggests that most citizens of industrialized countries are ill-prepared to cope with the ethical significance of climate change. I draw upon Martin Heidegger to offer a new reading of climate denial that suggests viable responses to this problem. I argue that the implications of climate change are largely received as an ‚Äúexistential threat‚ÄĚ to the extent that they endanger the integrity of everyday existence. In other words; the implications of climate change for everyday life unsettle what phenomenologists call the ‚Äúlifeworld.‚ÄĚ Should basic lifeworld assumptions; which cultures rely on to makes sense of the world and their purposes in it; come under serious question; anxieties surface that most people are profoundly motivated to avoid. Hence; the ethical obligations entailed by climate change are ‚Äúdenied‚ÄĚ in the form of protecting lifeworld integrity for the sake of containing anxieties that would otherwise overwhelm people. Finally; I submit that existential approaches to climate denial can empower a confrontation with ‚Äúclimate anxiety‚ÄĚ in ways that open up ethical reflection.

Keywords: Climate ethics; climate denial; existentialism; phenomenology; anxiety

Proceedings from the 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference 2013. Climate Change; Sustainability; and an Ethics of an Open Future. August 22-25; 2013; Soesterberg; The Netherlands

Author:
Tim Christion Myers
Title:
Understanding Climate Change as an Existential Threat: Confronting Climate Denial as a Challenge to Climate Ethics
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Proceedings from the 50th Societas Ethica Annual Conference 2013. Climate Change; Sustainability; and an Ethics of an Open Future. August 22-25; 2013; Soesterberg; The Netherlands

Author:
Tim Christion Myers
Title:
Understanding Climate Change as an Existential Threat: Confronting Climate Denial as a Challenge to Climate Ethics
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