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Dialing Down: Undoing the Climate Damage

Benjamin Hale

Ben Hale’s research explores the ethics of climate change responses. An example of papers follows:

Geoengineering, Ocean Fertilization, and the Problem of Permissible Pollution. Science

Hale, B. and L. Dilling, 2010. Geoengineering, Ocean Fertilization, and the Problem of Permissible Pollution. Science, Technology and Human Values, doi: 10.1177/0162243910366150.

Getting the Bad Out, The Environment

In this paper Ben argues that technologies like catalytic atmospheric scrubbing should be viewed as a morally justifiable approach to global emissions, so long as they are undertaken in direct proportion to the wrong-making emission on the part of individual actors, but only insofar as they are a direct response to wrong-making pollution (MIT Press, forthcoming 2011).

Non-Renewable Resources and the Inevitability of Outcomes

Ben argues in this paper that the release of climate-altering CO2 into the atmosphere is best understood as temporally inevitable, at least from the standpoint of moral theory. Namely, in the absence of alternative energy technologies and robust global remediation strategies, human activity is headed toward the same end: the complete exhaustion of fossil fuel resources (under review).

Private Ownership and Moral Jurisdiction

In this paper Ben argues that much of the time that we engage in behaviors that are considered environmentally unacceptable, we face challenges of moral jurisdiction. Generally speaking, we’ve used legal regimes of property ownership to trace out and specify cases in which moral jurisdiction belongs to one or the other agent, thereby resolving moral conflicts before they become problems. But recent developments in environmental science and policy threaten our traditional regimes of ownership. They do so because property regimes have relied on false models of ownership, on models that presuppose an owner with discrete boundaries and discrete responsibilities.