The Absence of Virtue in Climate Change

Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

In this week’s article, “Geographers and the Discourse of an Earth Transformed: Influencing the Intellectual Weather or Changing the Intellectual Climate?”, Noel Castree discusses how geographers can contribute to global climate research. Notably, Castree mentions the tendency of geoscientists to “repeatedly and severely underplay the implications of their analyses” (246). This prompted my own thoughts about the damage underplaying consequences can cause. By not portraying the full gravity of the situation, there is a distinct disservice being done to the intellectual community, and to the world at large, as there is “insufficient attention to non-academic audiences” (246). How is anyone supposed to have a full grasp of the situation at hand, when people are holding back? More important questions stem from this. What is holding them back? What are the benefits to not telling the world the full scope of what you have found? How do policies, governments, and personal beliefs factor in to these decisions?

Later in the article, Castree has a short discussion of the absence of virtue in the debate surrounding geosciences and the future of the Earth. I could not help but think of the lack of virtue in our past and present dealings with the Earth, as well as the underplaying of scientific findings described above. As we have discussed in this class, humans act as the masters of the Earth – there is very little virtue in how we have treated the Earth thus far. There is no virtue in the “uneven forms of social vulnerability to environmental change” (248). Many have continuously ignored the disproportionate impacts of climate change. The plight of climate change is the complete opposite of virtuous. But the interdisciplinary approach Castree stresses is the kind of virtue we need to incorporate in climate change solutions. We need to consider all stakeholders, all species, and all generations (present and future) when it comes to changing the climate.

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