A moralist on cynicism and climate change

Is uncertainty really the biggest problem in our dealing (or rather: not dealing) with climate change? Klaus Michael Meyer-Abich (physicist and philosopher) doesn’t think so.

In an incredibly frank interview (in German, sorry) he suggests that what really hinders the industrialized nations from taking action is not uncertainty, but objective costs an interests. The objective costs for developed nations for reducing their CO2 now are much higher than the costs they will have to face in dealing with  the effects of climate change in their own countries. Less developed countries in the South, on the other hand, are not as responsible for CO2 emissions (he does not mean India and China, obviously), but they will be affected in worse ways, and have fewer means to deal with the results.

Here are some excerpts from the interview:

journalist: “But even in the industrialized nations we have an interest in stability in the Third World, because we need resources and because hunger and war could be threatening to our own well-being as well.”

K.M. M-A: “Well, that’s what they say, but is actually true? Sure, we have an interest in world peace. But de facto we’d rather build walls than deal with the causes of strife. […]”

journalist: “But you aren’t without hope all-together. After all, you don’t think we are openly cynical.”

K.M. M-A: “You see, there is an unconscious cynicism: we aren’t doing anything, but quietly hope that things will somehow be o.k.. Then of course there is also a conscious cynicism: sure, we caused CC, but then, we also benefit from it. Let the south deal with the problems on their own. Now I don’t think that most of us are really capable of being that cold-blooded, […], but we need an open debate about these issues if we want to stop fooling ourselves. […]”

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