Earth on fire: Climate change from a philosophical and ethical perspective

This book is a translation of the Danish book Jorden brænder klimaforandringerne i videnskabsteoretisk og etisk perspektiv (Forlaget ALFA, 2009). 

The changes we face are both alarming and far-reaching. They will have a major impact on our lives. In order to meet this challenge, it is necessary that we understand both the scientific details and the broader contexts of the different problems. Technical solutions detached from the social reality into which they must be incorporated cannot solve these problems, just as theoretical musings on background, causes and values are of no use in the present situation. However, if we gather the threads and endeavor to tackle the task based on a high level of expertise and sound knowledge about the context of the problems, we believe there is every possibility that the huge challenges we face can be resolved. We hope that this book will make a small contribution to this task.

This book is about climate change. It will contribute to your understanding of what is happening and why it is happening. The objective is to show how climate change raises not only a number of questions to do with natural science, but also many questions of a more universal nature that are based on philosophical, political, ethical and religious assumptions about how the world is and how it should be.  

We hope that this book will encourage critical reflection and ethical consideration of what is happening, why it is happening and what we ought to do. The book consists of seven chapters which show how the climate changes are rooted in our scientific, philosophical, political, ethical and religious understanding of the world.

At the end of the book, three actual cases from the climate debate are discussed: CO2 trading, GM crops and biofuels. These cases are addressed by experts who have played a prominent role in the public debate of these topics. What all three cases have in common is that they describe controversial solutions to problems resulting from climate change. The purpose of these cases is partly to present some of the more controversial strategies for countering climate change to the reader, and partly to show how the ethical and philosophical issues on which the seven main chapters centre can be used as keys to understanding the disagreements that arise when discussing some of the most important issues currently faced by mankind.

The English online version is free for all to use. All we ask you is that you share the existence of the book with your colleagues and fellow students so that as many as possible might benefit from it.   

Earth on fire (front page, content etc.) eds.: Mickey Gjerris, Christian Gamborg, Jørgen E. Olesen & Jakob Wolf

pdf: 14MB

Foreword to the English edition Mickey Gjerris pdf: 34KB
Introduction Mickey Gjerris pdf: 62KB
The climate is changing but why? Jørgen E. Olesen pdf: 728KB
What will happen?
Scenarios of the future
Jørgen E. Olesen pdf: 1MB
Climate science how did it come about? Matthias Heymann pdf: 766KB
What is climate science all about? Philosophical perspectives Matthias Heymann, Peter Sandøe & Hanne Andersen pdf: 375KB
The price of responsibility ethical perspectives Christian Gamborg & Mickey Gjerris pdf: 12MB
A religious perspective on climate change Jakob Wolf pdf: 5MB
The climate debates debating climate: Polarisation of the public debate on climate change Gitte Meyer & Anker Brink Lund pdf: 600KB
Case 1: Bioefuels Claus Felby / Christian Friis Bach pdf: 3MB
Case 2: Genetically modified organisms Preben Bach Holm / Rikke Bagger Jørgensen pdf: 5MB
Case 3: Trading in CO2 quotas Alex Dubgaard & Peder Agger pdf: 6MB
Further reading pdf: 72KB
About the authors pdf: 76KB