1st Edition

A Climate of Risk Precautionary Principles, Catastrophes, and Climate Change

By Lauren Hartzell-Nichols Copyright 2017
    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    We are living in a climate of risk. Our way of life imposes risks on ourselves and others. We are causing climatic changes that have the potential to change radically the conditions under which both we – the present generation – and future generations will live. While we are now quite certain that climate change is happening, we are unsure of exactly what will happen and when, given different emissions and policy scenarios. We are therefore in a position where we must decide what to do about the risks climate change threatens in the face of a range of uncertainties

    In this book, Lauren Hartzell-Nichols provides guidance in the face of this uncertainty by offering an in-depth discussion of how and why we ought to take a precautionary approach to climate policy, namely by appeal to a Catastrophic Precautionary Principle and Catastrophic Precautionary Decision-Making Framework. By examining the way in which climate change is harmful, Hartzell-Nichols shows how precaution does have a meaningful role to play in moving climate policy forward if we reconsider what precaution is about before too quickly appealing to precaution as a reason or justification for action.

    A Climate of Risk takes a philosophically grounded, interdisciplinary approach that will appeal to a broad scholarly and policy-oriented audience. Hartzell-Nichols’s reinterpretation of the precautionary principle enables precaution to be more effectively leveraged as a driver of action on climate change.




    Chapter 1: How Climate Change is Harmful

    Chapter 2: Making Sense of Precaution

    Chapter 3: A Precautionary Approach to Threats of Catastrophe

    Chapter 4: Precaution and the Economics of Climate Change

    Chapter 5: Responding to the Threat of Climate Catastrophe

    Appendix: Getting Around the Non-Identity Problem



    Lauren Hartzell-Nichols is an affiliate assistant professor of philosophy at the University of Washington. She has published widely on many topics in climate ethics, including precaution, adaptation, and geoengineering, both on her own and with diverse, interdisciplinary teams. Her work addresses the ethical challenges climate change poses. In particular, she addresses the complexity of ethical decision making in the face of significant, intergenerational risks.

    Precaution matters, especially when we may be on the brink of passing tipping points fit to cause catastrophic and irreversible climate change. This book does an admirable job of making the right distinctions in the right places, so as to enable a better understanding of what precaution means in the mess we are in. The distinctive view of precaution defended in the book - in particular, the Catastrophic Precautionary Principle, and the Catastrophic Precautionary Decision-Making Framework - moves climate politics forward in novel and much needed ways. - Catriona McKinnon, Professor of Political Theory, University of Reading

    How can we get a sane grip on the real possibility that extreme climate change will unleash catastrophe? This highly original, widely knowledgeable, and deeply powerful argument shows through a balanced but revealing analysis of the three core approaches of Nordhaus, Stern, and Wagner & Weitzman that the social cost of carbon is being systematically underestimated because of blind-spots in the fundamental assumptions of economics that inevitably mask uncertain dangers of catastrophe that public policy neglects at peril to many generations - a wise and exceptionally important book accessible to non-specialists. - Henry Shue, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Studies, University of Oxford; and author of Climate Justice