The climate change raises some serious ethical issues on the part of all stakeholder, the individuals, the nation, the next generation and the nature. Most arguments against climate change policies are short-term economic arguments of various types that almost always raise serious ethical problems. Elaborate. (150 W/10 M)

Mentors comment:

  • The question is straight forward and wants us to identify the ethical issues involved in economic dealing with climate change.
  • The answer should start with general introduction of climate change and move to identify the three economic arguments opposing climate change policy.
  • These are ethical questions because they imply that there should be no action taken because of economic and cost arguments. The three economic arguments are increased energy prices, decrease of global GDP, and significant loss of jobs. We need to analyse the prospects of all these issues.
  • Bring conclusion based on the points incorporated in main body.

Model Answer:

Introduction:

Ethical issues are everywhere. Perhaps the greatest ethical issue of the time arrives as a problem that has the power to change the planet. Climate Change is a grave issue that is facing the world today. It is not a future problem to deal with; it is affecting people now and needs to be dealt with accordingly. There are several arguments that oppose action to limit the effects of climate change but perhaps none are more publicized or argued than those based on economic reasoning.

There are ethical issues against three economic arguments opposing climate change policy. These are ethical questions because they imply that there should be no action taken because of economic and cost arguments. The three economic arguments are increased energy prices, decrease of global GDP, and significant loss of jobs.

Increased Fuel Costs

  • The first argument of increased energy prices is being made by oil companies.
  • The oil companies claim that due to the lack of cheap alternative fuels, the cost of energy will increase.
  • The oil companies have the most to lose if climate change policies are adopted. They profit from fuel for nearly every industry imaginable. The downfall of oil companies are the amounts of carbon dioxide being emitted from their product.
  • These arguments are not based on factual statements. The oil companies are consumed by greed so make statements based on their best interest without regard to the consequences they will have on others.
  • This brings up the issue of ethics within the decisions of the oil companies to reject climate change policies.
  • The oil companies are making their arguments on utilitarian grounds meaning that the most favorable decision is the one in which happiness is experienced by the most people.
  • However, even within this argument are violations of utilitarian principles.
  • The oil companies are implicitly suggesting that a proper way to treat other humans is destroying their lives for the singular purpose of gaining profit.
  • The biggest weakness of utilitarianism logic it that it fails to respect the individual rights. The case of climate change is a perfect example of this weakness.
  • The oil companies are disregarding individual rights by continuing to fight policy regarding carbon dioxide emissions based on the argument of increasing energy costs.
  • Thus, the economic argument of rising energy costs brings up several ethical issues.
  • First, it brings up the issue of the proper way to treat other people.
  • Next it violates the idea of individual rights based upon the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Finally, it contests Kant’s principle of not using people as a means to an end.
  • Instead persons should be treated as ends in themselves because everyone deserves at least that much.

GDP Arguments

  • The next economic argument opposing climate change policy is based on cost in terms of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Critics of the actions against climate change argue that the effects of climate change are not worth the amount of money that will be saved by allowing them to take place.
  • This claim is not only debatable on factual grounds but on ethical ones as well.
  • It is still the moral responsibility of persons to counter uncertain ends because of the devastation that could be caused.
  • This brings up the question of rights. Human rights are being violated because there are greater harms at risk than those identified in the argument.
  • The GDP argument is also in question because it is utilitarian in nature and is therefore under the subjection of all utilitarian market flaws.
  • Utilitarian theory states that the free market must promote the general welfare meaning, that both parties participating must increase utility without harming anyone.
  • The next issue deals with the shortcomings of the free market based on utilitarian ideals.
  • Each of these outlines ethical issues of the GDP argument and why it is not a sound approach to oppose climate change policy.

The Job Loss Argument

  • The final economic argument opposing climate change deals with job losses that would take place if certain regulations were to be passed.
  • Many of these jobs would be lost in the coal and other energy industries because of the acts to control and regulate emissions and also move to clean energy technology.
  • However, by making the switch to clean energy technology many jobs would be created.
  • Environmental spending would offset the losses by creating new jobs.
  • So, besides having factual problems, this argument also brings up ethical questions.
  • The first ethical issue is concerns the duties and obligations to other people.
  • The claim of the manufacturers is concerned only with job loss and not looking at the big picture of human welfare.
  • It also fails to recognize human rights when making this claim.
  • Referring to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is easy to see that many of these are being violated by the job loss argument.
  • All people have a right to life and this argument fails to acknowledge this right.
  • It does so by ignoring the harms and costs to society that will be imposed if climate change is allowed to continue at the present rate.

Conclusion:

The economic arguments of increased energy prices, decreased global GDP, and loss of jobs all have ethical issues associated with them. Examining all of these cost arguments, it can be seen that they ignore human rights and duties and obligations to others. Thus, all of these arguments have ethical issues. It is because of this that the debate is so sensitive. In order to make correct and educated decisions that affect billions of people, the factual as well as the ethical issues must be examined at all angles. This is the only way a proper and ethical decision concerning climate change policies can reached.

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