A Perfect Moral Storm: The Ethical Tragedy of Climate Change (Environmental Ethics & Science Policy)

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Climate change is arguably the great problem confronting humanity, but we have done little to head off this looming catastrophe. In The Perfect Moral Storm, philosopher Stephen Gardiner illuminates our dangerous inaction by placing the environmental crisis in an entirely new light, considering it as an ethical failure. Gardiner clarifies the moral situation, identifying the temptations (or "storms") that make us vulnerable to a certain kind of corruption. First, the world's most affluent nations are tempted to pass on the cost of climate change to the poorer and weaker citizens of the world. Second, the present generation is tempted to pass the problem on to future generations. Third, our poor grasp of science, international justice, and the human relationship to nature helps to facilitate inaction. As a result, we are engaging in willful self-deception when the lives of future generations, the world's poor, and even the basic fabric of life on the planet is at stake. We should wake up to this profound ethical failure, Gardiner concludes, and demand more of our institutions, our leaders and ourselves.

"This is a radical book, both in the sense that it faces extremes and in the sense that it goes to the roots." –Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"The book's strength lies in Gardiner's success at understanding and clarifying the types of moral issues that climate change raises, which is an important first step toward solutions." –Science Magazine
"Gardiner has expertly explored some very instinctual and vitally important considerations which cannot realistically be ignored. –Required reading." –Green Prophet

"Gardiner makes a strong case for highlighting and insisting on the ethical dimensions of the climate problem, and his warnings about buck-passing and the dangerous appeal of moral corruptions hit home." –Times Higher Education

"Stephen Gardiner takes to a new

Product Details

  • Series: Environmental Ethics and Science Policy Series
  • Paperback: 518 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (March 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199985146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199985142
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds

Customer Reviews

Wonderful Exposition of the Moral and Ethical Elements Surrounding Climate Change

6 people found this helpful.
 on January 30, 2014
By David H. Vonseggern
A Perfect Moral Storm is a supremely written volume and requires much from the reader. However, it is well worth the attention. In a tight discourse of nearly 500 pages, the author presents his perspective on the moral challenge posed by global warming. If the text alone were not enough, ample footnotes on nearly every page carry details of the author’s arguments. Whence the title? The author states that “… climate change constitutes a perfect moral storm that threatens our ability to behave ethically.”

Belongs on my Kindles

 on February 25, 2017
By Amazon Customer
For me, where I’m at on learning about climate change and climate denial, anything less than a full 5 stars would be a bad faith report on this philosophy book. I recommend this book. It belongs on my Kindles because it clarifies the issues while giving us a warning on what to expect from the deniers.

The result makes the work worthwhile

 on December 14, 2013
By Fiona
Excellent dissection of the actual climate change mitigation problem. It is tough to read through the endless hair-splitting detail, but the work is worth it in terms of the precision that Gardiner achieves. Every climate negotiator should read this book, examine his/her conscience and then act. Every citizen should read something a bit less daunting and then act. I thoroughly enjoyed the Austen dissection and my eyes opened wider and wider as the parallels with the climate negotiations became clear. I would only recommend the whole book to someone very interested in the issues.

Must read

 on August 14, 2017
By dominique wuylens
Dense, difficult but so compelling, should be read by all!

Four Stars

 on October 31, 2015
By Douglas S. Longman
Revised edition could really use some IPCC data in a situation analysis section

Very Thoughtful

32 people found this helpful.
 on July 16, 2011
By R. Albin
This is a very thoughtful and systematic analysis of the moral aspects of climate change. Gardiner is a moral philospher and appropriately approaches climate change as an ethical challenge. This book is a serious and largely successful attempt to lay out the ethical dimensions of climate change, and in particular, why it is such a challenging problem. Gardiner argues well that a conjunction of 3 major and mutually reinforcing factors make addressing climate change particularly challenging, leading to what he calls a “perfect moral storm.” One is that it is a truly global problem requiring an unprecendented degree of international cooperation in a world of nation-states with markedly different aims and an international system with only rudimentary institutions for the required endeavour. The second, and as he points out, somewhat related major problem is that this is an intergenerational problem. A lot of the book is devoted to working out the details of climate change as a particularly difficult intergenerational issue. Finally, and in perhaps the most novel section, Gardiner argues that climate change presents a “theoretical” challenge. The different types of theories we possess in political philosophy, moral philosophy, and policy analysis are poorly suited to addressing climate change. Individually, each of these three components is formidable, put together, the problem of developing an adequate response is beyond daunting.

A Vital Book

13 people found this helpful.
 on August 24, 2011
By G W PETTY
If there is a more important book on Amazon I don’t know of it. Gardiner explains why we are doing so little about a potential climate change catastrophe, when 1% of global GDP could fix it (`so little we would hardly notice it’). The book, even by academic standards is rigorous, meticulous and exceedingly fair-minded but he suggests useful `skips’ for the less technically minded. You don’t need to be a moral philosopher to understand it.

Good, but Disapointing

4 people found this helpful.
 on August 7, 2011
By Publius
This is the best book on climate philosophy out there — and I believe I have looked at almost all of them.

Put off by the preface!

One person found this helpful.
 on May 5, 2012
By A Customer
In the Preface the author announces that the book deals with eight propositions. But only seven are stated. Proposition 2 is missing. Also, the heading formatting in the Preface is inconsistent.

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