The Ethics of Climate Change: Pay Now or Pay More Later?

Weighing our own prosperity against the chances that climate change will diminish the well-being of our grandchildren calls on economists to make hard ethical judgments
or subscribe to access the full article.

Chris Gould

What should we do about climate change? The question is an ethical one. Science, including the science of economics, can help discover the causes and effects of climate change. It can also help work out what we can do about climate change. But what we should do is an ethical question.

Not all “should” questions are ethical. “How should you hold a golf club?” is not, for instance. The climate question is ethical, however, because any thoughtful answer must weigh conflicting interests among different people. If the world is to do something about climate change, some people—chiefly the better-off among the current generation—will have to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases to save future generations from the possibility of a bleak existence in a hotter world. When interests conflict, “should” questions are always ethical.

or subscribe to access the full article.
Buy Digital Issue $7.99
Print + Digital
All Access
$99.99 Subscribe
Rights & Permissions
Share this Article:


You must sign in or register as a member to submit a comment.

Give a Gift &
Get a Gift - Free!

Give a 1 year subscription
as low as $14.99

Subscribe Now! >


Email this Article