Climate change, morality on table for Science Pub
Published: Friday, March 8, 2013
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013 01:03
Kathleen Moore will speak about the relationship between science and morality as they pertain to climate change at Monday night’s Science Pub at 6 p.m., held at the Old World Deli at 341 Second St. in downtown Corvallis.
Moore is a distinguished professor in the school of philosophy at Oregon State University. Her presentation, “It’s wrong to wreck the world,” will focus on four reasons why climate change and environmental issues are moral concerns as well as four climate change misconceptions that prevent action.
“I think I have useful things . . . to say about the relationship between the science of climate change and the ethics of climate change,” Moore said. “They can’t be distinguished. We have things to say to one another.”
For Moore, dealing with climate change will require thinking “about it as a problem of human rights, as a problem of distributive justice, as a crisis in reverence” and a “betrayal of love.”
“I’ll make the case that scientists, climate scientists and ethicists need to come together into a partnership to create a public discourse about climate change that speaks to people’s moral affirmations and their values,” Moore said.
The first misconception Moore will speak about is the belief science alone is sufficient to solve the problem. She believes science needs to be coupled with morality in order to incite change.
“Another fallacy that’s blocked action is the notion that, ‘we have met the enemy and it is us,’” Moore said. “If we had to identify an enemy, we might look at the Big Oil, which is showing itself willing to risk bringing down the systems that support lives on Earth in order to rake in enormous profits.”
The final two misconceptions Moore will refute are the necessities to win over climate change cynics, and that the opposite of hope is despair. Hope and despair without action lead to abandoning morality.
“But between hope and despair is this wide, fruitful territory of moral integrity . . . not acting because you think you can save the world, because you can’t, let’s face it,” Moore said. “But acting with integrity, acting gratefully to the world because we believe it’s a gift.”
Moore will also discuss how to address climate change on an individual level.
“I want to think with people about how we can act with integrity, which is to say a matching between our values and our actions,” Moore said. “Part of that is refusing to make choices that are destructive to the world. And part of that is imagining new ways to live.”
Despite the sobering topic, Moore plans on people having a fun time.
“The topic is grim, but the evening is probably going to be fairly raucous,” Moore said.
Moore plans to involve the audience with prizes, quizzes and other modes of audience participation.
“I want [the audience] to come away feeling good,” Moore said. “I want them to come away thinking, ‘I’ve just spent the evening with people who really care about the world.’”
Moore spoke at a Science Pub in Bend last fall and will speak next to CEOs of green building companies at Disneyworld. The books she has written include “Riverwalking” and the co-edited “Moral Ground: Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril.”
Before she became interested in climate change, Moore said she wrote about “connections to wild places.”
“What I was writing about was disappearing before my eyes,” Moore said, so she considered her philosophical “obligation to the future.”
McKinley Smith, news reporter